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Best Buys Over the Years

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Reponses from campus community members to "What was the coolest thing you ever bought at Rummage?"
From the Winter 2010 Caller

Collected by Zanny Allport '10 and excerpted from CatlinSpeak, the student newspaper

Allen Schauffler
Beginning School teacher
My engagement ring. There’s a good story to go with it.
Kent Hayes ’10
Antique all-brass forest firefighting pump.
Len Carr ’75
Middle School dean of students
A 1988 VW Jetta that was in perfect condition, donated by former science teacher Lowell Herr, who had kept it up perfectly and meticulously.
Nance Leonhardt
Upper School teacher
Three identical hot-pink and white wooden signs that say “Merry Christmas.”
Karen Katz ’74
Communications director
Hundreds of dollars worth of Brio wooden trains and tracks I bought for about $35 when my sons were little guys. I am saving the Brio for grandchildren.
Keenan Jay ’10
Air Jordan 5s circa 1990. Freaking tight!
Hannah Whitehead
Head of the Beginning School
A folding kayak we bought in the 1980s. It was in pieces and no one knew if all of them were there, so we got it at a bargain price. It turned out that only the rudder was missing, so we made one, and had many happy hours on the Willamette with it.


Rummage Memory Pages

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We posted giant pages at the last Rummage Sale for shoppers and volunteers to add their memories. Here are some of their responses.
From the Winter 2010 Caller
“Walked through Rummage while starting labor contractions. Continued on and got all shopping accomplished. Daughter born 11/4/01 and now attends 2nd grade at Catlin Gabel.”
— Rummage shopper and CGS parent
“The Journal Building—laughing in the paperback book section with Debby Schauffler ’70 and Lynne Cartwright ’69, in 1967 or so.”
— Erik Bergman ’69
“My kids are 23 and 31. We’ve been coming here since they were 1 and 7. They have grown up in Catlin Gabel 'specials' and learned how to shop carefully here. Thanks to you for the place where they could make mistakes cheaply.”
— Rummage shopper
“Running with the bulls!”
— Luke Mones ’10
“We don’t have a lot of $$, and we were able to get a ton of racks and a display case for our store. Thank you so much!”
— Annie and Carlee, Fat Fancy
“I’ve been to most sales and still have treasures from the first one—especially a dress I bought for 50 cents and got lots of compliments on! Sorry to see it end."
— Lou Layko, 82, Brush Prairie, Washington
“There’s nothing like wearing a Catlin Gabel roustabout hat or working here as a cashier with your friends. Thanks for all the memories!”
— Esichang McGautha ’12
“The end of the annual rummage sale will leave a big, gaping hole in my fall events calendar, but as George Harrison taught us so long ago, all things must pass. Goodbye and thanks to all for your hard work and beautiful, friendly spirits.”
— Rummage shopper

A Rummage Farewell

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A longtime teacher and sale announcer bids goodbye to Rummage
From the Winter 2010 Caller

By Sid Eaton

I married into Rummage. When I married Margaret (Meg) Shepard Patten ’58 in 1964, I became son-in-law to her mother, Elsie Failing Shepard Patten ’29, a 24-year volunteer for the Catlin Gabel Rummage Sale. In fact, during my first fall at both Rummage and Catlin Gabel, I was invited to attend a luncheon in Elsie’s honor, the venue for which was the then sorting center at the corner of NW Thurman and 28th Avenue. It gave me a preview of coming attractions, of the care so many put into the project known as Rummage.
My previous hints of what I was getting into were four in number. First there was Schauff, Manvel Schauffler, then headmaster of Catlin Gabel, who spoke so often and warmly of Rummage during his many visits to my previous employer, the Charles Wright Academy, up in Tacoma. He never had to say, “Sid, you have to come and see the Rummage Sale.” So tantalizingly did he speak of the Sale, I wanted to come and see it in action, invited or not.
Near the end of my 10 years at Charles Wright, I got the chance to see a bit of the Sale in preparatory action. The Sale was still at the Journal Building down on what is now known as Tom McCall Waterfront Park, but it was not yet in session. Caravan Day had occurred, and the spoils of that year’s collection were everywhere. Silent though the building was, I could sense the growing excitement. I still recall Elsie and Meg talking about one of the off-duty policemen serving as security who would honor the Sale by serving as a cashier during the early moments. Thus was my second preview of coming attractions.
Third was Meg, who had virtually grown up at Rummage, not quite like a waif out of a Dickens novel, but to the manor or manner born, the highlight of her early life being when she was asked to sort buttons or something of that sort all by herself in the sewing department: complete responsibility at an early age, something she did again during Alumni Night on the Tuesday preceding this year’s final sale. She loved it!
Fourth was working in the Rummage Truck during my first student contest. I remember Eddie Hartzell, my colleague from a previous teaching life at the Cate School, and I were unloading a load of plywood table tops when the load shifted, just missing Eddie’s head by a non-existent hair. Rummage could be dangerous, exciting, hair-raising.
Then came loading week, an entire week committed to loading up some 20 semi trailers; Caravan Day, an entire Sunday devoted to unloading them over at the Coliseum, just days before the Trail Blazers would open their season; Pre-Sale, the nervous time during which parents and alums would eagerly await the arrival of the school’s fleet of buses, loaded to their windows with eager shoppers; finally the sale itself, which opened at 10 a.m. the next day with a swarm of humanity charging through the doors after waiting in line outside for many hours.
I had to tend shop my first year at the school (four English classes in the Upper School), so I missed the sight of this human tsunami, but I heard enough about it that I managed to be present thereafter at the official start of each succeeding sale. Someone had asked me to serve as the Sale’s announcer. It was chaotic, happy madness. No one had warned me of how many shoppers would ask their party to meet them in front of the snack bar, nor that one had to broadcast their requests in the order received or face intimidating stares from the denied populace.
There were light moments, to be sure. I remember one of our workers coming over from Housewares to ask me to ask the lady who had bought some bed pans to come pick them up. With all due seriousness I made an announcement about the bed pans, made it several times in fact as the buyer hadn’t shown up yet. The worker then reappeared with the same message, and again it went over the PA system, to the amusement of all in the building. Finally we discovered that the worker, who had a strong Balkan accent, was referring to bread pans.
There are many stories, and that’s just one. Come to think of it, maybe we need a Rummage reminiscence reunion, annually perhaps, where and when all associated with Rummage over the years can gather, share their memories, small and large, and say farewell to Rummage as it deserves and as we knew it. Something will be missing when Rummage ends: the bargaining in Hardware, the mental game of knowing what items to sit upon waiting for the next bag sale vs. not holding a bag sale too soon, the sheer pleasure of finding something one wasn’t seeking, and the experience of interacting with the public and the Catlin Gabel family. This was a two-way experience. This is what I hope so deeply the school, via a series of meetings being planned for this winter, will find ways to match. I shall miss the Rummage Sale very much, but I’m sure the school will find a way to extend all of its positives into the next 65 years of Catlin Gabel School’s existence.
Sid Eaton retired in 2001 after serving as admission director and teaching Upper School and Middle School English at Catlin Gabel for 30 years.


A Tribute to Rummage, A Look Ahead

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From the Winter 2010 Caller

This past November was Catlin Gabel’s final Rummage Sale. Forces that include changes in the way goods are sold in the digital age, the growth of second hand and discount retailers, and the shrinking pool of volunteers eroded the ability of this cherished 65-year tradition to raise the funds Catlin Gabel needs for financial aid. After the sale, it was time to find new ways to bring people of all ages together the way Rummage did, and to teach our students the lessons they could learn outside the classroom from Rummage. The Catlin Gabel community— students, teachers, staffers, parents, alumni, trustees, and friends—began working together to figure out What’s Next? at a meeting on January 23.

The group of more than 100 met in the Barn for most of the day to figure out what was important to them and to the school and wider communities through self-reflection and a series of group discussions led by past trustee and parent Mindy Clark. In addition, the event was streamed live on the website, and those off campus were able to participate online. Every idea and contribution was given respectful consideration at all times as the group worked towards final consensus at the end of the meeting. From smaller to larger groups, and then to the group as a whole, participants brainstormed ideas for what’s next, given a set of basic parameters. The final products were a list of events or activities that all agreed on, a list of what was agreed to be common ground, and a list of ideas that not every one agreed to, but that were important to some. No idea was thrown away, however—all ideas were captured and will be kept for future consideration.
Common ground—values that all thought should undergird what’s next— included attributes of multiple generations, physical activity, a learning component, a local connection to the community, a service component, financial sustainability, ability of students to run or organize the activity, and a way for the school community to bond or connect.
Projects, activities, or events that drew consensus were something to do with gardens, farms, or growing food (what one called a “Honey Hollow Farm resurrection”); a “Barn Raising” as a metaphor for building and working together on a specific project on or off campus; one specific event; a Catlin Gabel service corps; and an annual Campus Day connected to a worldwide day of service so that those who don’t live nearby can take part.
The day’s discussions are available online for everyone to see and to comment on. Members of the What’s Next steering committee will consider all the input and come back to the entire Catlin Gabel community with proposals for consideration. Whether it be one event, or many, or what shape it will take, remains to be seen. But what’s definite is that the community will decide, and try it out, and see what works. A new tradition may be born, or it may take time, but we will do it together.
We’ll never forget Rummage and the memories we have. Two stalwart volunteers reminisce here about what the Sale meant to them, and think about the directions we can go from here.


Rummage 2009 TV Coverage

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News clips from KATU, KOIN, KPTV, November 09

Faces of Rummage

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Thank you, volunteers!

This is by no means a complete gallery of volunteer portraits. After all, it took more than 12,000 volunteer hours to put on the Rummage Sale.

Rummage Sale generates $274,000 in sales

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Retiring in style

The 65th and final Rummage Sale was an AMAZING success thanks to energetic volunteers and loyal customers. We generated $274,000 in sales, just $1,000 shy of last year's total.

The Catlin Gabel community spirit is epic. We do great things together — we always have and we always will.

Thank you very much!

So, what’s next?
Do you have ideas about what Catlin Gabel might do to recreate the wonderful sense of community and commitment to service we have experienced through Rummage? Share your after-Rummage Sale ideas with us on the After Rummage Forum or send your ideas by e-mail to Ideas will be considered at a community-wide meeting in January. Stay tuned for details.


Rummage Contest video highlights

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Go Blue! Go White!

Rummage contest photo gallery

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The last, best Rummage contest

Rummage Contest movers and shakersUpper School students rocked the Rummage Contest on Saturday, October 3. The weather cooperated despite threatening skies in the early hours of the day. Thank you, Blue Team and White Team captains for organizing a great event. Thank you, Upper School students and teachers for collecting and sorting an awesome collection of items to sell at our last, best Rummage Sale.

Click on any photo to start a slide show.


Oregonian story: "Catlin Gabel to end popular rummage sale"

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Oregonian article, September 09

The last Rummage Sale: Rummage retires at 65

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by Karen Katz ’74 communications director, Rummage announcer, and former sporting goods department chair 

This year, we celebrate the Rummage Sale’s 65th anniversary. As we mark this milestone, we will also commemorate the sale’s retirement. Yes, that’s right, Rummage is retiring at age 65 after the 2009 sale. I talked at length with Lark Palma, head of school, and Lesley Sepetoski, Rummage Sale coordinator since 2000, to find out why this amazing sale is being retired after this year.

Why are we retiring Rummage?

Lark: As much as we love the Rummage Sale, external forces have steadily eroded our ability to put on a great sale and deliver the best benefits to the school and the community. These include the advent of eBay and Craigslist, which have drawn high-value rummage away from us; discount retailers, second-hand, and consignment outlets; a shrinking pool of available volunteers; and ever-rising overhead costs.
Lesley: The Sale has been our cherished tradition for 65 years, but it raises far less money for financial aid than it once did. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Rummage revenue actually peaked nearly 30 years ago. Ten years ago, the sale raised 20 percent of our financial aid budget. Rummage now only contributes 7 percent of our financial aid budget, at a tremendous cost to us in hard work, volunteer time, and money. It’s hard to say “farewell,” but it’s time to find new ways to accomplish for the school what Rummage has done for 65 years.

Rummage is such a great community event. How will we replicate that?

Lark: The sense of community we gain from Rummage is vitally important to our school’s well-being. We’re sad that this will be the last sale. So many of us will miss seeing old friends and coming together for a common purpose. It is hard to let go of the iconic things about Rummage like the wobbly green carts, the red roustabout hats, Sid Eaton at the microphone, and the festive feel of the presale. In January we will bring folks together to brainstorm community-building activities and come up with new ideas to replicate the kind of community spirit generated each year at the Rummage Sale.

What were the factors that went into making the decision?

Lesley: After every sale we debrief with key volunteers, parents, development staff members, and finance committee members. It is clear from what they have said — and from the 2008 parent survey about Rummage — that our community is deeply committed to supporting financial aid and to community-building activities, but Rummage is not effectively serving either purpose. For the past several years we have been concerned about the amount of effort put forth for the sale compared with the benefit. The tipping point was the realization that 12,000 volunteer hours amounted to just 7 percent of our financial aid budget. 

Who made the decision to make this the last Rummage Sale and what was the process?

Lark: Volunteers, alumni, parents, trustees, and faculty-staff who know and love the sale and who understand our financial aid needs came to me with their concerns about the sale’s viability. I could not ignore the strong case for retiring Rummage made by some of the sale’s most devoted supporters and volunteers. Ultimately, I made the decision to make this year’s sale our last.

Will there be less financial aid available without Rummage?

Lark: The sale has been phenomenally successful, and for many years it was the school’s only source of financial aid. But times have changed, and we can raise much more if we turn our attention to less expensive ways of fundraising. Right now, we plan on increasing financial aid support through direct gifts from alumni and current families, foundation grants, and corporate sponsorships. A board of trustees task force will look at our options and work with the development office to ensure that we replace our Rummage revenue and create new programs that raise as much money or more.

What’s going to happen to Lesley?

Lark: Lesley is an asset to the school, and I am thrilled about her new role focusing on alumni and community relations.

Is this the first time the school has considered retiring Rummage?

Lesley: No, it is not. The conversation is decades old and familiar to many in our community, including alumni, parents, volunteers, students, and faculty. As a community, we identify with and take pride in this unique endeavor, and yet we struggle each year to rally the troops. We have continued because the core idea of the Rummage Sale is good, even though we have known for some time that the results no longer justify the effort and expense. It was an agonizing decision. 

Then why didn’t we retire Rummage sooner?

Lark: Tradition! The sale is a grand tradition, and nobody likes to see a tradition end — especially one that generates so many fun stories and such amazing community spirit. But this is a tradition we can no longer afford. Our tradition of supporting students who need financial aid is too important to continue an event that does not generate the financial aid we need. 

Let’s get back to the volunteer question. Why don’t we have the volunteers in place to continue the sale?

Lark: The enormous energy expended by so many dedicated Rummage volunteers is inspiring. However, the nature of volunteering has changed so much from the early days of the sale. People still want to volunteer, but they want more flexibility. Many simply don’t have the time to volunteer the way they once did. Families are more scheduled into after-school and weekend activities than before. Parents who volunteer during the week want to work near their children, help in the classroom, and make a difference on campus. We are excited about the huge potential created when our amazing volunteers set their minds on the next big thing. We clearly need to create another avenue that continues the Rummage legacy of bringing our community together to work side by side.

As an alumna and the mother of one alumnus and one current student, I really value the lessons students learn through the Rummage Sale. What about that?

Lark: Sid Eaton, retired teacher and stalwart Rummage announcer, once said, “You can always tell a Catlin Gabel alum – get more than six of them in one place and they form a bucket line and pass your furniture out the window.”Our students do know how to jump in, without being asked, to form a human conveyor belt to pack a bus or set up a campsite or pick up the other end of a couch. We instill that cooperative spirit every day — in classrooms, through community service, on campus days, and on trips. We must be intentional about maintaining that valuable piece of learning for our children.

What about the way Rummage ties into our sustainability efforts?

Lesley: An important aspect of Rummage has been recycling and re-use. I am sure people will continue their good practices on that front. Once this year’s sale concludes, we will suggest alternative organizations for our community to support with their used items. We have worked with some wonderful nonprofits that collect our unsold merchandise.

What will happen to the sorting center?

Lark: We don’t know yet. Once we are beyond this year’s sale and clean-up we can start thinking about the best use for that space. We are open to suggestions.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Lesley: We need everyone to pitch in this year as we celebrate the many lives Rummage has affected so positively, in so many ways, over its 65 years. Join with us (if you can) to help Rummage retire with a hoot and a holler and a whole lot of fun.



The Statistics of Rummage

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Cindy Beals's students survey Rummage shoppers for vital info
From the Spring 2009 Caller

By Nadine Fiedler

Catlin Gabel students are all over the Rummage Sale, but Cindy Beals’s statistics students are unique: they’re the ones with the clipboards politely asking shoppers to fill out surveys.

Cindy Beals teachingCindy and her honors math class have worked for the past five years to provide information the school needs to run a better Rummage Sale. The project was the brainchild of Rummage coordinator Lesley Sepetoski, who wanted to find out more about the demographics of the sale’s shoppers. Who’s buying what, and when? How far did people drive to get there, and is Expo a good location? What were they hoping to find? Lesley asked Cindy if she might be interested in involving students in finding the answers, and Cindy knew it would be a perfect fit for her yearlong statistics class. It would allow her and the students to apply the theory they learn, and it would give them a chance to see the messy process of statistics in the real world.

The cycle begins early in the fall, when Lesley tells them what she’d like to know. The class thinks about possible questions: how the question order makes a difference, or how slightly different wording can provoke different answers. Then they create their questionnaire.

An important aspect is learning the right way to approach Rummage shoppers so they see the students as respectful and will take the time to answer. “It’s scary for some kids to approach the shoppers, but that’s another part of the learning experience. All of them end up talking to people they wouldn’t have much chance to otherwise, and it gets them to see a different part of Rummage,” says Cindy.

When the sale arrives in late fall, each student first samples shoppers in one location for just one hour; the information from all the students shows the changes over the course of a day. Next the students all go at once, and each samples shoppers in a different department to see how that varies. The  students learn to analyze the data, and in the spring they present their finished report to Lesley and the Rummage committee.

The students’ surveys have resulted in real improvements to the sale. When it was clear from the survey that long lines were a serious problem, the committee decided to have seniors work as cashiers, speeding up the checkout process. “Having their work result in actual changes inspires them to do a thorough job so that we affect future Rummage sales,” says Cindy.

Cindy is a huge fan of the Rummage Sale, which makes this a doubly fulfilling project for her: “It’s exhilarating for me to see learning happen. And Rummage is such an amazing thing we do for so many reasons: because it provides financial aid for our students, as a service to the wider community, for getting out our name, for recycling, and for drawing the Catlin Gabel community together, including alumni. I love that I can support Rummage as a part of my job.”

Cindy was honored with a Fulbright Award to teach in Turkey in 2009-10. She says she has “insatiable wanderlust,” and took a sabbatical in 2000–01 for a trip around the world. At CGS she has led or chaperoned trips to Turkey and India, where many members of her family have lived for generations. A native of northern California, Cindy earned a BA in math from Michigan Tech and an MS from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Before coming to Catlin Gabel in 2004, she taught at two schools in Michigan and at Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.






Nadine Fiedler is editor of the Caller.

TV Coverage of Rummage '08

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Four video compilations from local news broadcasts

Rummage Contest

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Many thanks to Jordan Treible '10 and Mackenzie Treible '09 (go Blue) for taking photos of the Upper School Rummage Contest. News of which team won the contest had not been released when this photo gallery was posted.

Rummage Sale featured on AM NW

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KATU TV video clip, Novermber 07