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At Home With

Going home again

1/4/2017

choate-w-kid-toysWhoever said, “You can’t go home again,” hasn’t spoken with Ron Choate.

Choate grew up on the south side of Des Moines, a block from where he currently lives. He initially bought his quaint home and then sold it to move to California. When he moved back to central Iowa after the housing crisis, he was able to purchase the same house for $60,000 less than he’d sold it for just a few years earlier.

Choate knows how to get a good deal, and he’s been set on decorating his home with bargains he finds at garage sales, junk jubilees and other various second-hand markets around town.

“People think you have to go south of Grand to find the good stuff,” he says. “But you can get anything you want right in your own neighborhood.”

He says 99 percent of his “fun” finds come that way.

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“Most things I can tell you what I paid for them or what street or house it was from,” he says.

Choate’s single-family residence near Wakonda Golf and Country Club was built in 1965. It has four bedrooms, a pair of bathrooms and a detached garage. The main living area contains 936 square feet, a finished basement totaling an additional 660 square feet of living space and 300 square feet that are unfinished for storage.

But the highlights of the neat and tidy home aren’t in the architectural marvels but in the “fun” finds that Choate has adorned the home with. He’s his own interior decorator.

“I always say a garage sale and me,” he laughs.

While in California, Choate says he picked up some Hollywood collectibles.

“That Beethoven bust, that’s from the movie ‘American Pie.’ Band camp girl? That’s on her headboard above her head,” he says.

He points to a ladder on the wall and says it was the ladder used by Kevin Costner to climb into his “Dances With Wolves” abode. And he also owned a chair from the “Titanic” movie.

But not all of Choate’s salvages are immediately useful.

“This is the overload,” he laughs, pointing at the basement floor with piles of unused treasures.

“I’m trying to find the toys I had as a kid to give to my grandkid,” he says.

So far, he has a lunchbox, an old Santa Claus and other Christmas stuff.

“These are Kookie Spookies,” he says. “They were put out by Hasbro in 1969. There are six different ones, with names like ‘Tina Terror.’ ”

He also has things he won’t be giving to his grandkid.

“Here’s something weird,” he says and pulls out a black and white photo. “He was a man who posed as a woman to be in a dance lineup (in the early 1900s). And on the back is his handwritten note ‘…11 years fooling the public as the only man on the first all-star woman’s bill at Proctor’s Fifth Avenue Theater in New York, 1912. 54 woman on the bill, and I was the only Adam in the Garden of Eden.’ His name was Jack Moore and he posed as a woman.”

He has an Ouji board with an outdated symbol that initially appears to be a swastika, but he explains the nuance that makes it the symbol of luck.

And luck is something Choate knows something about.

Buy low, sell high, take a miniature hiatus in sunny California then return to buy the same house you sold for 60 cents on the dollar. But that’s the life for Choate — day after day of interesting stuff. ♦

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