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Buyers Raid Andy Rooney's Norwalk Home

NORWALK, Conn. – Lifelong Andy Rooney fan Alexandra Karsick of Stamford snagged a keepsake Friday at a Norwalk estate sale : one of the curmudgeon's 1920s typewriters.

The archaic writing instrument was one of several still in the late celebrity's crowded Rowayton basement at about 3:30 p.m. as an estate sale proceeded. More than 100 people had lined up at the door for its 10 a.m. start, according to organizer Elizabeth Jackson. The popularity of the writer showed, as the rooms of the Victorian home were stuffed not just with collectibles but also with people who had never met him.

Andy Rooney, famous for his weekly commentary on "60 Minutes," died in November at the age of 92.

Rooney's writing studio occupies one side of the basement of the home he owned for 60 years. The other side is home to things such as the woodworking equipment given to Rooney in 1956 by Arthur Godfrey. The equipment was described as "every man's dream in the '50s" by Bud Dickey, a Maine resident who had gone through Rooney's collection of woodworking tools and unfinished projects in preparation for the sale.

Men browsed. "Who would have ever thought he plays around with wood?" one asked.

"That's a nice piece of mahogany," said another.

"I didn't know he had died," one said. "I didn't know this was his house."

"I didn't either," another replied. "I always thought he'd be on the water."

"Guys that got it, they don't need to prove it to anybody else," said Dickey, who added that the late wordsmith was a "killer woodworker."

"I've been down here for weeks," he said. "You can see the early works, when he slopped the glue, and then he got better and better. I could see when he was practicing his joinery and then finally he could make a really good dovetail. You can find it upstairs, a nice box he made that a professional guy couldn't have done it better."

Dickey hasn't missed one of Jackson's sales in the 12 years he has worked for her, and this one was busier than most. "Usually it's just people who want to buy something," he said. "But a sale like this, we always want to see what was inside. ... This is two-thirds bigger than usual."

Cars lined the block and filled a lot opened for parking. Jackson thought too many people were trying to cram into the front room at one point and asked a worker to move people along.

On the second floor, Rowaytonite Macy Elizabeth Baker found what would become a memento of her seventh birthday. A glitter globe, which featured a statue of an African elephant inside, was on a night table next to one of the vintage sleigh beds. Her eyes lit up when she saw it, sparkling like the green glitter that surrounded the elephant, ready to swirl in the water when it was shaken. Grandma Joanne Hoye of West Hartford agreed to buy it and said she "got off cheap" with the $20 price tag.

Bill Van of Stamford, who collects toy trucks, left with the box for a toy tractor-trailer. "I didn't have toys like this when I was young and neither did you," he said to a man working the sale.

Chip Paris of New Canaan bought a pair of 1962 black Head skis for $40, pleased that they had Rooney's name on them. He said a friend would hang them in his ski shop. His father had worked with Rooney at CBS, which was part of why he came.

"The house is pretty old," he said. "They didn't tear the place apart and modify it. They lived here for 60 years. You can see, they kind of fixed things a little, but they lived in it."

He was impressed by the contents of the home, and said he might go back downstairs to buy a 10-foot-long slab of mahogany.

"You see him on TV; I didn't realize he wrote so many books, but he did," he said. "Maybe I'll start reading some of his books."

The estate sale at Hunt Street and Rowayton Avenue continues through Monday and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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