August 13, 2020
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A native Texan, Margaret Paulsen has found a welcoming home in New England, and in particular at the Deep River Congregational Church, for which Margaret is organizing the annual Rummage Sale coming Saturday, Aug. 17. Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier

A native Texan, Margaret Paulsen has found a welcoming home in New England, and in particular at the Deep River Congregational Church, for which Margaret is organizing the annual Rummage Sale coming Saturday, Aug. 17. (Photo by Rita Christopher/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

Margaret Paulsen: A Bargain Isn’t Always in the Basement

Published July 24, 2019

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Need a chair? A sled? A music stand? A pet carrier? Or maybe something more exotic like an antique Swedish birthing chair?

All that and more will be on sale at the Deep River Congregational Church rummage sale on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., with most items halved in price from noon to 2 p.m. There is a presale the night before on Friday, Aug. 16 from 6 to 8 pm, with an admission charge of $5. Admission to the sale on Aug. 17 is free.

The rummage sale takes place inside the church, while the lawn in front is devoted to a flea market with some 80 different vendors.

“It’s wall-busting; we really have a storage problem,” says Margaret Paulsen, who heads the rummage sale, explaining that the church will be so crammed full of items that the walls can hardly hold them.

Merchandise for the sale, in fact, fills the walls of several rooms, as Margaret showed a visitor on a recent tour.

Margaret noted some items she considers special like a complete set of Franciscan Desert Rose china and four watercolors in original frames by Merle Kendy.

“They were wedding presents in the l940s,” she explains.

(Kendy, whom the Internet identifies as an artist whose full name was Norman Merle Kendy, was active in California in the mid-20th century.)

As for the Swedish birthing chair, which enabled women to give birth sitting, don’t get your heart set on it. Church office administrator Kris Lindner put a picture of it on her Facebook account and has already received offers for it.

Rummage sale workers sort through all the donated merchandise to ensure that it is salable. One volunteer not only folds items like linens, bedspreads, and tablecloths, but also marks each with dimensions to make it easier for shoppers. Another polishes all the donated silver.

Margaret is a relative newcomer to the church. She and her husband Bill joined in 2014 after moving to this area. Though Margaret herself was raised in the Lutheran tradition, as she looked for a house of worship to attend in this area, she found herself drawn to the Deep River Congregational Church.

“Once you start going to this church, you fall in love with it,” she explains.

In addition to heading the rummage sale, Margaret works regularly at the weekly Shoreline Soup Kitchen dinners held at the Deep River Congregational Church. Usually her team cooks four or five times a year, but she goes every Thursday to help with set-up.

“That makes it easier for the volunteers,” she explains.

Margaret’s voice lets you know right away she is not a New England native.

“I often get questions about my accent and where I am from,” she admits.

She has lived in Georgia, California, and West Virginia, following her husband’s career path, but she is originally from Texas.

When she talks about her background, she says some people are surprised. An art teacher from whom she was taking a class locally told her that she had changed his mind about Texans.

“I guess that meant he liked me. Maybe he thought Texas were conservative, not broad-minded,” she says.

Margaret, who had always enjoyed art and even had contemplated becoming a medical illustrator, began taking art classes after moving to this area.

“It was something that I was always interested in and I thought if I am ever going to do anything about it, I had better do it now,” she says.

She has done a series of paintings of animals, mothers and their babies, as well as landscapes of New England.

Her forebears emigrated from Germany to the hill country of Texas in the mid-19th century, but she herself grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and graduated from Texas A&M, which several generations of her family have attended. Her own degree was in biomedical science and she worked as an anesthetist technician where she met her husband, a physician whose field is anesthesiology. He is a professor at Quinnipiac University School of Medicine. The couple have an adult daughter, Lindsay, who edits a magazine on horsemanship in the Washington, D.C. area.

New England was a new area of the country for Margaret, but she is enthusiastic in talking about it.

“I love Texas, but I love New England too. It is gorgeous, so pretty. That’s why I think there are so many artists. I get happy just driving around,” she says.

There is, nonetheless, one aspect of New England that Margaret still is learning to deal with: winter.

“I really didn’t know about dealing with cold, and I hadn’t shoveled snow. I didn’t know how heavy snow was,” she says.

As she looks forward to the upcoming rummage sale, Margaret says raising funds for church programs is always a priority. Some 55 percent of the money from the rummage sale goes to youth church missions, one of which just went to West Virginia. The rest supports general funds. But Margaret says there is a goal beyond the finances.

“We always can use the money, but a big goal is to make people feel warmly welcome,” she says.

Margaret says she anticipates bargains.

“This is great for anybody starting a new home; there are housewares, great stuff, stuff you can really get creative with,” she says “Our prices are low, really low. We are known for our low prices.”

Margaret herself has a bargain from an earlier rummage sale. She had her eye on a designer handbag priced at $50; it was still on the table when the price on most items was halved at noon. She got it for $25.

Deep River Congregational Church Rummage Sale

The Deep River Congregational Church hosts its annual indoor Rummage Sale on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a presale ($5 admission for early viewing) on Friday, Aug. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. The outdoor Flea Market is in Aug. 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information or to donate items, call 860-526-5045 or visit

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