Its 6:30 a.m. we pull into the Flea Market for a morning of popping corn. Other vendors are already there, setting up their ‘stuff’ while some early shoppers are strolling through, looking, looking for that elusive ‘thing’ and the sun hasn’t even appeared yet.
It takes about 45 minutes to set up our tent and equipment, washing everything down again to make sure all is bright and shiny. ‘Good morning’ greetings are called out to the vendors who are setting up close to us.
‘Its going to be a good day!’
We hear her voice before we see who it belongs to, but we know it’s Dot on her way to the office that is right next to us, to pay the fee for a table she sets up in the long barn.
Dot was one of our first regulars who wormed her way into our hearts immediately! She is a load of inspiration in everything she does, her greetings to everyone, the love and praise she proclaims for God and His goodness to her and to all of us. I can truthfully say that in the almost 2 years that we know her, she has never said a negative word.
And, her life has been nothing easy! Dot has talked about the hard stuff she has come through, and always, always saying, ‘but God is so good, He has been with me the whole way.’
She has two sons who live states away, but gets into her car, drives 9 hours by herself to spend holidays with them and her grandchildren, and attend their graduations and birthday parties. She often borrows her friend’s car to do it because ‘mine is broke right now.’ She wants to write her story yet, and knowing her, I am thinking she will get it done. ‘I have to hurry and do it!’ she says as she walks away, after giving me a big hug and telling me, ‘I love you and am praying for you’ carrying her jumbo bag of popcorn, along with other extra’s we give her. I watch her walk off with an unsteady gait, but still strong and sure, just like her faith in God. What a beautiful woman, and I think,
‘I would never have met her had we not popped corn.’
As the morning progresses, the place fills up, especially on a nice day and no rain in sight. Our regulars stop by. I can never introduce you to all of them, but such lovely people they are! Getting to know them is fun! The old timers especially have such a strong southern accent which I had to ‘learn’ to understand after many ‘say that again’ or ‘excuse me’ to which they will then repeat what they said more slowly.
People love to see the Boova working with us. “How nice that you can work with your Grandparents!” they will say.
One lady helped herself to a ‘teachable moment’ when watching 8 year old Tanner give her change back. She said, “Can you count it back to me?” Then she looked at me with a wink and said, “I’m a school teacher and I can’t help myself!”
One older man came along, soon after we started popping, and leaning over the counter said, ‘Can I get a dollar off for being good-looking?’ Tim and I laughed, and we did give him a dollar off.
Talking about discounts. One day early on, our grandson Hunter was manning the cash drawer, I was stirring the popcorn Tim had just dumped into the bin and I heard Hunter say, ‘You get a dollar off because you are an Ohio State fan!’
Well of course! We look up and the customer has a OH hat on. Tim and Hunter then get all involved in Ohio State ‘chatter’ and we have to know how or why and when they became an OHIO STATE fan. How Hunter decided to do this is beyond me, but we thought it was a good idea. And, there have been quite a few of them!
There was another time when a guy wearing a Michigan hat noticed Hunter’s Ohio State shirt and said something about it, teasingly. Hunter then said, ‘Sorry, but if you are a Michigan fan, we will have to charge you a dollar more!’
Of course he didn’t.
There is one guy who has never stopped to buy popcorn, but he will walk past with his family and yell out, ‘O.H!’ to which Hunter calls back, ‘I.O!’
Then there is the T-shirt guy. He is older, and buys popcorn, about every week. Every time he is wearing a T-shirt with a hilarious saying on it. One day I said to him, ‘You must have a lot of T-shirts,’ because I had never seen the same one twice. He smiled and said, ‘I have 100 T-Shirts with sayings on them!’ He said that friends have always given them to him as gifts and he tries to wear them all! What a guy!
Another young man came running up to the tent and said, ‘I want a bag of Kettle Corn so big it makes me sick!’ We sold him a jumbo bag!
An older guy who is a vendor and sets up just down from us, comes by and tells us our ‘smell’ drives him nuts, that he thinks he needs a bag of popcorn first thing in the morning when we start popping. We often give him a leftover bag at the end of the day, but he always walks past our stand at some time during the day to say, ‘that is the worst tasting popcorn ever! I can’t believe you even sell it!’ with a grin on his face, probably to remind us not to forget him at the end of the day!
And then we have these guys.
They come by every week, and order bags of popcorn they give to their bank tellers and the ones who cut their hair. They all grab a small bag to eat as they walk the flea market, advertising for us. Each one of them has a story too, all of them unique and interesting. I was sad when one of them told us he didn’t go anywhere for Thanksgiving. We told him he can come to our house the next time. He said he would like that.
Dave, the guy wearing a white shirt in the picture, always gives each of us a peppermint candy when he walks up to our stand. He said he gives candy only to the people he likes! He has a crazy sense of humor, which we soon realized after we met him. One time when they were paying for their order, Tim was confused giving Dave’s change back. Dave always paid for his and the other guys orders, and then they figured out the change among them. On this particular day, they were paying separately and Tim didn’t know it.
Tim kept trying to give Dave change back that belonged to one of the other guys and Dave was trying to tell Tim it wasn’t his, so Tim would go back to the money box to ‘correct’ it, adding it up all over again. I finally realized Tim didn’t know they had paid separately and was trying to tell him, as were the guys, but there were too many voices, and Tim was frustrated!
Finally, amidst all the confusion, Dave looks at me with a teeny little grin on his face, and still looking at me, he nodded his head towards Tim, and in his very southern accent said, ‘Where’d you find that guy?’ We all burst out laughing and Tim told Dave to straighten up or he may not get his ‘being a regular customer discount.’ Tim got the change corrected and the guys all cheered at his accomplishment. It’s always a good time when they stop by. Tony, the tall one in the picture, always has a joke to share with us. They literally spend the whole morning at the Flea Market, and are friends with a lot of the vendors they come to see every Wednesday.
I can’t even describe the adorable children who come to our stand. There are curly blonde heads with blue eyes, brown haired kids with dimples, and very dark-haired kids with their black eyes peering over the counter at us, wanting popcorn, all so incredibly cute. It’s fun to talk to them and watch those eyes light up. They don’t often talk, but will shyly smile and nod their heads at our questions or comments.
Then there is this guy.
He will walk the Flea Market often, looking just like this. I was intrigued with his beautiful headdress and was delighted when one day a lady asked to take a picture with him right in front of our tent. I quickly lined up beside them ( much to our Boova’s embarrassment) and asked to have one taken too. He gladly did it, and then asked if he can pronounce a blessing over me. I immediately stiffened a little bit, it was so unexpected and not knowing what was coming next, when he mentioned ‘the great spirit.’ But, he asked Jesus our Savior to bless my life, which put me at ease right away.
There is a stack of blocks in front of our tent to keep cars from driving up on the pavement where we are. There even happens to be a cushion on one of them. I have seen numerous people resting on it for a bit.
This guy comes every week and sits on the cushioned block, waiting for his friends to arrive and once they do, there is much hilarity and laughter.
If we are not busy, we can concentrate and hear their talk and its always interesting. They will be there for about 15 to 20 minutes, just depends how many will stop by. I tried to take this picture incognito but feel I was discovered because I believe most of them are looking my way. They always put a bright spot in our day!
For 2 weeks, the guy sitting on the blocks didn’t come to the Flea Market.
The next time he came, Tim was having a good time talking with him before his buddies arrived. Tim asked where he had been the last 2 weeks. The story was quite interesting.
He told Tim he has 2 grandsons who play pro football. Terrance Smith, who plays with the Kansas City Chiefs and DeAndre Hopkins, with Houston Texans.
This man’s daughter, Sabrina Greenlee, DeAndre’s mom, while being assaulted had acid thrown in her face when she was younger. It blinded her in one eye and as time went on, she became blind in the other, all from the effect of the acid. There is a movie coming out next year about her life and how she handled it. This man was gone the last two weeks, because the whole family was invited out to California to meet the actors in his daughters movie.
Well, that was an interesting tidbit and we will look forward to seeing it!
Our Boova were amazed, because both of them recognized the names of his grandsons and the teams they played on! I heard them talk among themselves, ‘So that is their grandpa?’
There are people who walk up to our tent, their eyes fixed on the popcorn, checking out prices etc. As soon as we recognize them with a ‘hello,’ 98% of them look up immediately and smile, responding back with a cheery hello and more!
But, there is one man, a bit elderly, who never smiles or says hello. He just reaches in his pocket and puts his money down, picks up his bag of popcorn and then walks on. I told Hunter that I will get that guy to smile sometime. Lately, I think we have been making inroads, because he actually looks up at us now, and I am thinking I saw a hint of a twinkle in his eye! I’ll let you know if he comes around!
I want you to meet the vendors around us who we now know. All of them, just super nice people!
Julian and Elsie Yoder, and Abigale who worked for them, had a food truck just over from us. Such fun we had working together. We miss them now! They have since sold their food trailer and are not at the Flea Market any more. They had the best food! It has been months since they left, but people still ask about them, ‘where are they? Are they ok? ‘I miss their food!’
No kidding! They had apple fritters ( Elsie often sent home the left over apple fritters for our Boova because they so loved them) and the best apple and cherry fry pies! Let me tell you, I KNOW fry pies and Julian’s are the best I ever had! (wish I had a picture to show!)
Then we have the Vegetable guy.
The Peanut guy.
The $1.00 Hot Dog people across from us.
And Papa Brat just over there, who makes the best brat’s smothered in onions and green peppers, all made on the grill! Then for Tim and I, puts on his famous Watermelon relish that he makes. He never charges us a dime, so we always give him popcorn. Sadly, Papa Brat doesn’t come to the Flea Market anymore, but we see him at Festivals occasionally were we are both working at. He and his wife are good friend of ours.
(On the picture above, Papa Brat is the guy on the far right. This is what the guys do when it rains during an event.)
And then there is M.D. He had a stand right beside us the first summer we were there and sold Slushies and boiled peanuts.
I asked him what M.D. stood for and he said with a very loud laugh, ‘People call me, Mad Dog!’ He was covered in tattoos, from head to toe. I asked him how and why he had so many. M.D. said he used to be a tattoo artist and did most of his own! He loved our Boova and they him. I told him one time, if I didn’t know him, and met him in a dark alley, I would have been afraid, to which again his signature laugh could be heard. M.D. was the nicest guy, and he ran a very clean operation. This summer he isn’t at the Flea Market, but we stay in touch through texting. We do miss him.
And then there is one memory fixed in my mind. We were very busy, popping and trying to keep up. I happened to look over, and there she stood. She was captivating and I stopped tossing the popcorn just to look at her. She was standing in the graveled walkway that goes out to other rows of vendors and the parking lot beyond.
She was by herself, a slouchy black felt hat on her head, curly salt and pepper hair sticking out from under it. She had on a long, gray corrugated sweater/coat with a fur scarf around her neck. Her purse she held in front of her, kind of Queen Elizabeth-ishy. She was looking out across the parking lot, turned her head and looked up towards our tent, then back again like she was looking for someone.
She was the epitome of elegance. At the Flea Market.
I was riveted by the look on her beautiful black face. There was an aura of peace coming from it, you couldn’t help but be drawn to her. She was probably about 80, and am sure had a lifetime of experience to give her that sense of wisdom and grace that emanated from her. I would have loved to sit and chat, to hear her story. I don’t know how long I stared at her. I had to look away for a bit to bag popcorn, and when I checked back, she was gone. However, if she would ever happen to come to our stand, I would definelty recognize her. I will never forget that face and the effect she left on me. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
This is a woman who inspired me, and I have never even met her. She has no idea the impression she left on me. It made me think; what impression do I leave with people without saying a word. Shana told me one time, when she was very young, ‘Mom, you look so mad when you are getting groceries.’
What? I love grocery shopping! How could I possibly look mad?
Well, perhaps I am frustrated with the people who think they own the aisle and let their carts in the middle so you can’t pass, or have it parked on one side while they are squatting down on the other side looking and looking for something, ignoring your ‘excuse me.’
I never forgot Shana’s observation and am horrified to see at times that she is right, when I happen across a reflection of me in a mirror or glass window while shopping, that perhaps I should lighten up a bit!
Again, I am reminded about the lovely lady I saw. I’m sure she looks the same at the grocery store as she does at the Flea Market. I learned a sweet lesson that day. I’m still working on it!
These are the peoples we have grown to love. We have learned so much from them, have been inspired by them, and so enjoy their life stories. I now find myself looking forward to Wednesday’s, when we get to see them again. They were our first friends when we moved to S.C. almost 2 years ago.
And . . I wouldn’t know any of them, if we didn’t popcorn!
I am a wife, a mom, and grandma to my 3 Boova. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, niece and friend.
Most importantly, I am a child of the King, my Savior, who I love and thank everyday, for life, the endless blessings showered on us, and the awesome world we live in.
I love to travel, read, bike and hike. I love to write about the people I meet, the places I’ve traveled to, , and about this beautiful world which is an endless discovery!