Classified ads tell many stories

Published 2:14 am Friday, October 2, 2009

In this world, two kinds of people exist — collectors and losers.

You can fall into both categories. Over the past 55 years, I have known people who collect baseball cards, teapots, chicken-decorated items, sports memorabilia (autographed baseball and photos, for instance) and ballet figures.

Fascinating people collect bric-a-brac, knickknacks, tchotchkes, which are pretty much all the same.

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On the other hand, lost items usually are included on the list of house/car keys, anything that’s moved from one residence to another, that phone number you’ve been looking for and the list of things you’ve lost.

Thank goodness, most — if not all — newspapers provide lost-and-found notices as a matter of record in most towns and cities. Those notices are located usually in that newspaper’s classified section.

In the newspaper, the classified advertisements are that part where the little words are printed in eight columns in the back of a newspaper section.

For the longest time, they were referred to as the “want ads.” Since the recession, they should be called the “need ads:” “I need to sell this,” or “I need somebody to buy this.”

Seems more likely.

People will get rid of just about anything. From free wooden pallets and World Book Encyclopedia to whatever they can bundle together and display at a flea market.

The rise in cheap sales papers brought about the “shoppers,” which are free handouts in every town. One favorite name has been “The Thrifty Nickel” shopper. It’s even included in online shopping.

Except with the current economy, the nickel isn’t so “thrifty” anymore. It’s just “The Nickel” in the Internet edition.

The classified ads can be “happy,” especially if they find the used clarinet that they have been looking for at a reasonable price.

Or they can be “sad,” which they usually are in the lost-and-found department. Unfortunately, too many pets get separated from their owners and grief ensues.

A dear friend lost her dog while it was chasing a deer at Old Cahawba Park west of Selma. That was early August and the family pet has not been located yet. Grief is still present, in her and those who knew her dog.

Some lost-and-found ads are kinda quizzical when they are read on the face. For instance, one such ad appeared in Thursday’s Selma Times-Journal.

The ad reads: “Found.” OK, there’s good news. Somebody has located something that somebody was missing.

“BBQ Grill.” That’s a handy item, but who would have lost a barbecue grill? And why didn’t they realize it was lost?

Barbecue grills ain’t car keys; you just don’t just leave them lying around and misplace them.

So somebody’s been good enough to find someone’s barbecue grill and tell everybody about it.

“At the corner of County Road 43 and Highway 80.”

It seems like an odd place to find a barbecue grill. Did it drop off somebody’s truck while they were making the turn? You figure they would have noticed that it was missing.

“Call to identify.”

Well, I haven’t seen many different grills at the local stores. They’re either round or they’re rectangular.

Color? Black. (That was easy.)

Legs? Yes. And maybe a wheel or two.

So if you need a barbecue grill and wanna make a local phone call, I’ve got a pretty good idea where you can get one.

Buster Wolfe is sports editor of The Selma Times-Journal. Call him at 410-1735 or e-mail him at