I saw a yard sale the other day while walking across Duluth with my friend Sarah. There were a few old paintings and some other things but I didn’t really take a close look. My motivation to go to yard sales is pretty low these days, particularly since I’m moving soon and have too much stuff already. I kept moving, leaving the potential deals for others.

Later on in the day we walked past a dumpster in the same area. There was a big box next to the dumpster that contained a bunch of old clothes. There was more stuff inside the bin, including a bunch of old VHS tapes and colorful embroidered doilies.

While we were looking around a guy in his 30s approached us. He assured us that he knew that the items were bug-free and that he knew where they came from. We ended up talking for a bit and he told us the story behind the objects. Apparently, they had belonged to an old couple who lived on that part of Duluth for over 30 years. One of the pair was from Chile, the other from Portugal. According to the man (who had lived on the street for six years) the couple “held the street together.”

In recent times they were almost evicted by a new landlord who hoped to bump up their rent drastically, but from what I remember they took the case to court and won. However, the wife passed away a year ago, and the husband is now in hospital and wasn’t expected to recover. The yard sale that I saw earlier contained the last remnants of their possessions.


The first thing I saw when I opened the dumpster was this framed painting, the only one that didn’t sell it seems. It’s a nice old landscape piece, signed by someone I doubt is at all well known. The guy we talked to said that he wished he had found it first, and would have taken it if he had. He told us that one room of their house was filled with 15-20 different old paintings of a similar style. I mildly regret not offering it to him now; he appeared to have an emotional attachment to the piece. I’m just a sucker for landscape paintings, and was thinking about decorating my new place.

It’s an interesting story, just one of many (the vast majority of which I’ll never hear) that get lost to the curb.

11 thoughts on “Duluth”

  1. It seriously needs a good clean. Perhaps they were smokers? I have no professional advice on doing this, but I believe soap and water, very very lightly might help. Thanks for sharing your work with us!

    1. I don’t think they were smokers because it doesn’t have that smell. (I hate that smell, I came across some stuff that smelled of it badly last night). I’ve found that stuff that’s been in or near the kitchen for a very long time can get grimy, so maybe that’s it. Thanks for the tip about cleaning it.

      1. I’d go with your reader’s use of white bread first, especially if it’s greasy grime.

  2. Well-known or not, this is a really nice painting (which needs to be brought back to life with a good cleaning, as the above poster mentioned). I love the opposing directions: on the top side the tree branches flowing into the clouds; on the bottom side the road flowing out the other way like a river. I think “well-known” in the art world is much as it is in the academic world: a lot of it is fluke, which develops into reputation, which evolves in “big name” one must cite. But I could easily see this piece in an art museum, and had this artist had a break, he or she would be (after all that grunge was cleaned up).

    I would feel the same guilt about not giving it to the guy who gave you the information. This has happened to me often in life: meeting someone, leaving, and feeling like something more should have been addressed. But such is life.

    1. Maybe I can clean it and do a before and after showing. I agree it is very nicely done, and that many great artists never become recognized.

      Who knows, maybe the guy will come across this blog post and send me an email!

        1. Thank you for sharing the bread trick! I’m new to blog and had no idea. Such great advice.

  3. Downtown or at least the Ville Marie borough has some very rich streets with opulent homes besides The Golden Mile.Victor Hugo street,Versailles,Lusignan and Lucien L’Allier have many rich homes and luxury condos.The garbage there is worth checking if you’re nearby.It is the area south of Lucien L’Allier metro.Very wealthy people have moved into some of those streets—these streets are bound on the west by many streets full of poor people in municipally subsidized housing.Go see the stark social divisions in that area.

  4. I am a student on a tight budget,22 and really find your blog interesting.I spent three hours last night reading your back posts.I have food shortages sometimes and I sneakily take out cans and bottles from the recycling bins of the neighboring building to have some extra money.I found an unopened bottle of Heinz ketchup in one of the discarded boxes on the curb destined for the garbage truck.I also found an unopened box of Oreo cookies last week on top of a trash bin and ate them.Could you please write more about rescuing good food from the trash and discarded furniture?I have only rescued food from the trash twice in my life—both in the last two weeks.

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