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Finding what you didn't know you needed

February 18, 2014 - Dawn Bliss
We are consumers, collectors and keepers.

Just stroll the aisles of tables in the 4-H building during the winter flea markets at the Webster County Fairgrounds and this is evident. We like stuff, but around here we also like the memories and associations attached to that stuff. At the weekend sales, you can find everything you could ever want and a number of things you never even knew you needed. I didn’t know I needed a hug. I mean, I am not the hugging sort. In fact, I have very defined and rigid personal space boundaries, but when Dick Heslop, of Lehigh, came out from behind his table of young children’s toys and grabbed hold of me I found myself holding on just as hard.

After all, this was a hug from a man who first charmed me when I was a toddler, and he is the source of the nickname my brother continues use even though we are both hitting middle age. Heslop was my family’s neighbor when we lived in Lehigh 30-something years ago, and he would call me “baby, baby, baby” whenever he saw me. He still does. My brother, though, a kindergartener at the time, rolled the phrase into one word that came out as Bubba.

I had gone to the event looking for dishes and pans to outfit my bare kitchen cupboards. I had purged my belongings rather than pack them and haul them back from the East Coast, but as it turned out I found an old friend who in a simple gesture reconnected me with that giggling little girl he used to tease. Of course, the large glass casserole pan I walked out of there with was something I knew I needed.

Actually, as I think of it, the morning I spent wandering among the offerings of the flea market was more about recollections than consumerism. The items available were simple things, like lunch boxes and purses; however, instead of designer names they were adorned with cartoon characters and marketing logos that brought back to life childhood heroes and adventures.

Vendors offered toys, homemade baked goods, spices and seasonings, natural soaps, costume jewelry, sewing and knitting projects, books, wood crafts, birdhouses, pocket knives, locks, lamps, old tools, aged kitchen gadgets, and knick-knacks. I even spotted a Fort Dodge school yearbook from 1923 up for sale. So much stuff, but none of it was gaudy, flashy or showy. No, the merchandise wasn’t the kind people buy just to prove they have the money to buy. It was practical, and even the pieces meant to be whimsical were down-to-earth and purposeful.

So while we are consumers who like our stuff, we also like our stuff to be meaningful and with a bit of personal history.

If you’re interested in exploring what memories you may discover among the things for sale on the vendors’ tables, upcoming winter flea markets are scheduled at the fairgrounds for March 8-9 and April 12-13.



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