How much would you pay to have four big high school senior boys work for you for 12 hours?
For the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction, Bob Kratzer was taking his turn as an auctioneer Sunday when “Hire a Spartan” came up for auction.
The details were that the winning bidder got to have three senior boys, listed as Eden, Carson and Iziah, work for 10 hours. Kratzer himself opened with a bid of $100.
Before long, the bids had sprung up to $450, and then a fourth teen, Luke, was added to the roster of workers. Soon the bidding was between just Carol Evanoff and Barry Thomas.
Their bidding stalled at Evanoff’s offer of $1,111. Not for long though, because the senior boys upped the work load to 12 hours and Thomas threw down a bid for $1,250. Evanoff went to $1,300. Thomas offered $1,400.
Only when the seniors offered another “Hire a Spartan” item of the same four boys doing another 10 hours of work, did Thomas get the 12 hours and four boys for $1,550.
Evanoff was the sole bidder on the second “Hire a Spartan” and she bought the boys’ labor for $1,300.
By the time the bidding on the Spartan workers was done, Kratzer had turned over the auctioneer’s microphone to Anastasia Rigby, a past graduate of Forks High, for her assigned hour.
She said that during her hour of auctioneering Saturday, $7,000 was brought in and her goal for her hour on Sunday was $10,000.
Rigby’s younger sister, Emma-Grayce Fleck, is a senior this year and frequently brought her older sister items to announce.
Each auctioneer circulated active bidding between eight items, bringing attention to each item at least three times before closing the bidding on it. They let the audience know when there was about one minute left before they called “going once, going twice and sold.”
If an item was getting interest, the auctioneer kept it open longer for bidding, often goading bidders to keep placing higher and higher bids.
This was the 55th year of the auction, which has evolved to become a major community event.
As it has for the last several years, the activity was centered in the Forks High School commons. The large, dimmed room did not make any use of the stage.
Instead, about 150 folding chairs plus tables with seats were on the concrete floor facing a podium around which most activity centered and the auctioneers paced with a roving microphone. Behind the podium were a few long tables which held four projectors so the audience could visually keep track of the bidding on a large screen as it was recorded by senior girls.
On the screen were odd pairings of items — a University of Washington Huskies clock was posted next to 1,000 bricks from the original Forks High School building, a shotgun was posted next to a hand-carved gourd, a Forks Timber Museum gift basket was posted next to a Rainshadow custom-tied fishing rod and sriracha pickled eggs posted beside a wild blackberry pie.
Some of the girls doing the writing had “Bid it 2 win it!” and “Thank you!” written on their hands in marker so their personal enthusiasm and gratitude showed to the audience as they wrote down bids.
Jerry Leppell, the auction chairman, occasionally approached the auctioneer with reports of donations taken over the phone and online.
At one point, Rigby handed the microphone over to John Dematties, who took time to explain details of an Edgar Martinez-signed store-model bat. Dematties said that though Martinez didn’t use the bat, it was an authenticated “piece of history.”
By the time he finished speaking, the bids on the bat reached $400. The bat finally closed with a bid of $900 by Barry Swanson.
Out in the audience, great-grandmas went across the room to gather their newborn relatives from daughters-in-law. Bosses casually chatted with employees. Past graduates of Forks High embraced in greeting and all the while, folks generally kept their eyes on the screen where the bidding action was taking place.
Seniors were easy to spot as they all had hunter orange T-shirts on. The shirts all had a Harley-Davidson-style logo with flames indicating they were students of the 2019 class of Forks High School. The back of their shirts had their first names in block letters.
These bright shirts allowed members of the audience to wave them down or call out to them for placing bids, getting more information on an item or just a closer look before staking money. Some seniors rode bicycles being auctioned. Another senior sat astride a scooter in Spartan colors for auction as he pushed it around with his feet.
At times the cheerful chaos probably felt like a three-ring circus to auctioneers.
When Rigby’s turn as an auctioneer was up, she handed the microphone to her father and Forks city attorney, Rod Fleck. The back of his shirt read “Emma’s Dad.”
He immediately thanked the support staff who were keeping track of money coming in and items going out. Fleck said he’d been auctioneering for 25 years.
This year, the auction brought in more than $150,000, which will be split among all 2019 graduates of Forks High School for their schooling after 12th grade.
Zorina Barker has lived on the West End for most of her life. She is married to a Forks native who works in the timber industry. Both of her kids have been home-schooled in the wilds of the Sol Duc Valley. She can be reached at 360-461-7928 or [email protected]ail.com.
West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.
Her next column will be April 2.