Sep. 21—PORT CARBON — Things in Long Island got so bad during the pandemic that Todd L. Jean decided to look for greener pastures.
Online, he found a small town in what he considered rural Pennsylvania, where residents talked of seeing deer, rabbits and even an occasional bear in their neighborhood.
"This would be the place," he said to himself.
About 15 months ago, the 54-year-old former cement worker pulled up stakes and headed for Port Carbon.
He bought a house on Commerce Street, along the Reading & Northern Railroad siding that leads to the rear of the Yuengling brewery in Mill Creek.
There, Jean is forging a new life as proprietor of an ongoing garage sale.
Enticed by a large sign near the railroad crossing on Pottsville and Commerce streets, visitors entering Jean's garage encounter a time warp of sorts.
Shelves crammed with DVDs and boxes of Matchbox cars compete for space with iconic images of Dick Tracy and Dirty Harry.
A large Superman toy doll, once the companion of some child, patiently waits for a new playmate.
A framed family portrait of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and their children, John (John-John) and Caroline goes almost unnoticed on a bookshelf.
On a wall nearby, a copy of the scandal sheet National Examiner from Jan. 26, 1976, has a photo of Jacqueline Kennedy and the headline "How Bizarre Plot To Kill Jackie Failed." Beneath it, another headline says, "Aliens From Outer Space Kidnap Human Beings."
Holding up a large plastic replica of an Army Humvee, Jean explained the operation of its TOW anti-tank missile system.
During the Gulf War in the early 1990s, Jean said, he was a gunner on a Humvee equipped with the TOW missile system. He was deployed in Desert Storm and Desert Shield while serving in the Army from 1989 to 1992.
Jean brought some items with him from Long Island, but he has picked up most of his stock at yard sales, flea markets and auctions.
He's expanded the line to include more practical items like 50-pound bags of pea coal, bales of straw ideal for Halloween displays and potted peppers and tomato plants grown in his backyard.
On a good day, Jean says, he gets maybe 100 customers. Most days, traffic is light, but he's hoping to gain a foothold among bargain hunters.
To visit, follow the "Garage Sale" sign at the Commerce and Pottsville street railroad crossing. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
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