Something else to file under garage sales: the woman who accidentally sold the ashes of her husband's first wife. The turtle jar that housed the remains was purchased for fifty cents by a woman who thought it would make an excellent cookie container. The woman who sold it claimed that its urn status was obscured by the fact that they collected many turtle-themed objects. The ashes were eventually retrieved.
Overall, I think that makes a pretty sad garage sale. Objects that are ripped from their context have always struck me as sad, but I think I know where I learned to have this kind of anthropomorphic empathy: Owl at Home, by Arnold Lobel. Have any of you read this book? Lobel is the creator of the Frog and Toad series, which readied me for devouring Edward Gorey in my double digits. In Owl at Home, Owl sets out to brew a pot of "tear-water tea"--and, naturally, in order to do so he must imagine and then dwell upon the saddest objects possible. Thankfully (to a young psyche), they're not really that sad--mainly in that they don't involve tragedies befalling humans--but they are pretty pathetic: a spoon that has fallen behind a stove and will never be found, pencils that are too short to use, a page of music no one can read, etc. So my question to you (be it indulgent, perhaps juvenile) is this: let's say you were given the task of making such a tea; what would be the saddest object you could conjure?