So apparently flea markets started, late 19th century in France– Paris, to be exact –of all places. I recall from the film “The Accidental Tourist” (William Hurt, Geena Davis), Muriel (Davis’ character) traveling to Paris to find Leary (Hurt’s character), and also finding armloads of vintage apparel at these markets.
There is probably not much a person cannot find at these emporia. From bathtubs to antique barometers, magazines to read or arm, paintings, parasols, canes, crystal, canary cages, dressers, daguerreotypes- virtually anything.
I used to frequent a rather large market near my hometown particularly close to Christmas time. So yesterday, with the weather warm and murky and heavy with unreleased rain I found myself feeling a bit wistful for some reason. I piled the dogs into the car and headed out.
In the 20-odd years since I’d last visited this vast place they have changed their schedule. The first weekend of the month is the Really Big antiques and collectibles expo. I happened on a new venture called 3rd weekend bazaar. Not many stalls were open at all, and the largest building where it’s generally a cacophony of chatter, laughter, music boxes and general large crowd noises was opened for a special auction and bead show, neither of which I cared to see. So I meandered through the places that were open, politely nodding to the proprietors, murmuring compliments on their various arrayed finery and furniture. Vaguely looking for 1920s magazines for which a great aunt of mine occasionally drew covers, or anything else that might happen to catch my eye.
I wondered as I wandered through these corrugated-steel shops whether this might be a weekend hobby for the sellers… I did not quite see how they could make a viable living out of displaying things someone haphazardly might or might not buy. And they would need to go on buying trips, they’d have to have developed an eye for spotting treasures among trash, as the saying goes– one man’s trash is another’s treasure... but what fun to meet so many people of like mind doing the same thing. And sharing trade tips, or keeping secret troves close to one’s heart.
And occasionally, among the clutter and aromatic candles I spot a dog, stretched out on a braided rug, oblivious as a napping child to the clomp-clomping of shoppers and passers-by.