Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For the Love of the Flea Market

I've been a little blue. But my mom, wise in the ways of therapy, knew just the trick.

"We need to load up the kids and head to the flea market tomorrow morning," she insisted. "We'll pick up some of those sausage biscuits they love so much and make a morning of it."
And so we did.

I threw all three of my young 'uns and the rusty beach stroller {the one that's good for dirt and sand} into the van and we took a "field trip" to the Wednesday morning flea market with Nana.
We're a classy bunch, no?

Lest you think the flea market is some rinky-dink, small-scale establishment, let me tell you otherwise. Our flea market is the size of a small city. And I do say that with a strange sense of pride. Brownie informed me that he had walked two miles by the end of our excursion and he may have indeed been correct. 

You can buy everything from roosters to razor cartridge refills. I'm quite certain a not-so-small percentage of the wares are not exactly legal or legitimate. But we shop there anyway.

The flea market never fails to deliver in five key areas. I now look for these items, turning each outing into my own personal, junky, scavenger hunt: Eiffel Towers, Elvis tchotchkes, Jesus art, Confederate flags, and ammo.

{Expired pharmaceuticals are also gaining in market shares.}

Sometimes the Eiffel Towers are well-concealed. But if you look hard enough, you can always spot one. See? Here's one masquerading as a fluorescent, plastic, corked decanter. I don't think I want to know what's been "decanted" in there.

And all of this is what makes the flea market one of my favorite local haunts. My mom and I visit the flea market on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. No kids allowed. We sip hot coffee, buy Christmas presents and stock up on a year's supply of local color.

{A photo from Thanksgiving}

But this was my first spring excursion. It will not be the last.
We walked past vendors selling forsythia clippings and baby bunnies, farm-fresh eggs and newborn puppies. We trod dirt aisles lined with antiques and auto parts and gently-used sneakers, all the while inhaling a blend of fried food, fresh produce, baked bread, truck exhaust, and cigarette smoke. Call me crazy but it's actually a really pleasant aroma and strangely comforting.

I picked up the noteworthy homemade biscuits from the snack bar while the kids and my mom listened to a musical posse crooning and plucking everything from Johnny Cash to Vestal Goodman.

{The same musician I saw at Thanksgiving evidently plucks this painted bucket-broomhandle-stringed instrument year-round.}

One side of their "stage" was blocked off by the biggest, rustiest, coolest antique truck ever. As Brownie eyed the truck, an older gentlemen told him, "If you look up 'truck' in the dictionary, a picture of that there vehicle will be sittin' beside it."
And on the bed of the truck? Cages of "back-up-singing" roosters that seemed to cock-a-doodle-doo right on cue.

Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up. The market should charge admission.

It goes without saying that the flea market is a literal treasure trove of people, junk, and seriously amazing loot. I spent $10 and came home with a lovely bottle of organic olive oil, an Anthropology-looking necklace, one tube of my favorite lip balm and four jars of face cream. My absolute favorite brand...for $1 a jar!

Truly, the Confederate-Parisian-Elvis-Gospel-Gun-Totin'-Rooster gods were smiling down on me today.

The kids bought some slightly-expired gum and a sweet old lady gave Cupcake an ancient Motorola flip-phone. Honestly, people take one look at that toddler head of curly hair and they give him whatever is in his hand. He's a veritable 3-year-old shoplifter. No wonder he's such a mess.

My mom purchased a cast-iron skillet. For me. I can't believe that I've lived this long without one. It's downright shameful. She can't believe she raised me on skillet cornbread and failed to provide me with a seasoned pan of my own. I think this sobering reality guilted her into getting one for me. Plus, it was a bargain at $10. When you are southern and a mom, it's never too late to impart the domesticity you overlooked when the kids were young and driving you bananas. This gives me hope for my own neglected and undomesticated children.

For someone who just can't help but take note of people and irony and the idiosyncrasies that define us as individuals and sub-cultures, a few hours at the flea market is like drinking from a fire hose. My dream job {the realistic one, not to be confused with the unrealistic Food & Wine travel writer / photographer one,} is working for a local newspaper, covering people and places that make our locale unique, colorful, and vibrant.

In the meantime, I'll be an enthusiastic poseur with my every-now-and-then blog post and amateur iPhone photos. And in case you're wondering what to get me for my birthday, there's a darling Eiffel Tower decanter I just can't live without. A Terrorist Hunting Permit wouldn't hurt either.


  1. hillarious!!! you have to read george singleton's "half-mammals of dixie"!

  2. Too funny! I've never been to a flea market, ever. I wonder if the ones in the northeast would be anywhere near as entertaining as this one...

  3. Oh that looks like soo much fun! Being from southern, rural Alabama, I totally understand the value of a seasoned iron skillet. I inherited my Grandmother's, and though my cousins probably felt like they scored with quilts and jewelry bounty, I think I got the best end of the deal :).

  4. This one had me laughing out loud (you heard me). Loved the experience, and your post, my dear, turned it into something "extraordinaire" . . . that's French for "wouldn't have missed it for anything." And that Eiffel Tower has your name all over it (except for where it says ""Made in China.).

    The only thing that would have made it better (at least for Blondie) . . . bringing that precious bunny home!


  5. this post is awesome. I've never been to a flea market...and now I must go and maybe we can compare notes...
    Seriously though, you had me at homemade muffins. I think in my parts it would be homemade tamales, but those are good too!

  6. You had me a tchotchkes.
    I never even knew how to spell it.
    You just knew know, do ya?

    Sounds like a Cock-a-doodle-doo-wap-a-dandy time!
    I am wondering how I lived there 4 years and never went to The Flea Market!!

  7. Ok, I'm blowing the whistle. That thing you call a flea market in this part of the country is really called "The Jockey Lot". What a name. I miss it. It truly is the world's most amazing, buy anything, see anything, haggle for anything place to be! I love you and miss you so much. I can't wait until I see you again.

    If this doesn't make any sense baby girl is babbling in my ear while I type and I can't even think. She has more words than any female in the world. Why? Why mommy? Why did you get this? What is this for?


  8. Hahahahahaha! I needed this laugh today. That pail-broomhandle plucker will have me giggling all day. It reminds me of things I used to see in old cartoons as a child in Canada. I never thought I'd see one for real!

  9. I, too, blog about the flea market:

    And I have almost the same picture as you in one of my posts:

    I haven't ventured there with Cedar-the-wild-toddler yet. Not sure how I would manage.

  10. Just stumbled on this and loved it. I taught my children to call it The Pickens Mall! It's about time for my semi-annual visit. Great place to buy day lilies when you can see the bloom. And that guy playing the broom can find him at Hagood Mill every 3rd Saturday making 'shine.


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