Once again, I made my semi-annual pilgrimage to Canton Trade Days, which is a HUGE flea market. Without a doubt, it would literally take days to fully shop Canton, and it gets bigger every year. As we did last year, we went again this past Friday as an early birthday present for myself.
This year, I have decided to spare Jason from Dog Alley (the only part of Canton where animal sales are allowed), since he absolutely would rather eat his toenails than walk through it. Anyway, we headed on back to the unreserved section, which is, by far, my absolute favorite.
Need an antique wagon wheel? We got it. Need a Picayune Creole’s cookbook from 1945? Got it. Need an orange payphone from the 70s? A Howdy Doody doll, or an entire coyote skin? Check, check, ANNNNNND check. I’m telling you, if you want it, they HAVE IT. Somewhere, someone at Canton will have what you’re looking for. And, a cardinal rule is, if you see what you are looking for and think the price is a little high, KEEP ON WALKING. Because, inevitably, unless the item is extremely rare, someone on the next row will have it for a lot less.
Take into consideration a vintage coffee grinder. Ever since seeing one being used to grind spices in my favorite magazine, I knew I had to have one. I am seriously insane about vintage kitchen utensils. I mean, just loopy. I have to force myself not to buy any that I know I won’t really use. You know, like the vintage ice grinders I found. (I mean, what would I use them for? To crush ice for Jason’s martinis when he gets in from work? With me standing there in my pearls and heels?) So, I was on the hunt for this coffee grinder. Well, I found three at one booth. What a deal! They had the cast iron grinding mechanism, and looked to be in good shape. BUT, they were about 30 dollars each. Now, that isn’t expensive at all considering they have made it this long in good condition, but I was sure I could find them somewhere else for less. I walked on for about another hour and a half. No more grinders. It was time to go, and Jason asked me if I wanted to turn around and go ask the vendor if he would accept less, when suddenly, I turned around, and there it was. A beam of light pierced the clouds and shone upon MY vintage coffee grinder. Better yet, it highlighted the prominently displayed price tag, which was for a mere $8.50! I snatched up the grinder and held it above my head. Eureka! My search was over! The Junk Hunter’s dream! Granted, it wasn’t the nice cast iron like the others, but it was good enough for me.
I also ended up getting a clamp-style mini grinder for soapmaking as well as an old-fashioned meat grinder. I’m not sure what it was about grinders last Friday, but I am now the proud owner of three more! Who knows.
Canton is full of its own characters, as well. Usually, the buyers are the most interesting to watch, and yet, you still have some reeeeeally interesting vendors, too. Now, there are your more ‘normal’ vendors, like Doorknob Bob, who has an unending supply of doorknobs and vintage glass pulls, but then you also have folks like Superman.
Now, we’re not talking about Clark Kent here (in fact, I think that Canton Superman’s alter-ego is called “Alan”). No, no, this is far more interesting and entertaining. I met Superman earlier this year when I went junking in the spring. Superman takes every opportunity to engage any person passing his booth (whether on foot, or even in vehicle) in conversation. And, to boot, Superman is always wearing something interesting. This time, it looked like an old band uniform hat. What is even more interesting is that Canton Superman looks like someone you would be pretty wary of. I mean, he could use a good shave and a really good haircut. Judging by looks alone, he looks like he would be a frequent flier at the trashiest bar imaginable, BUT, now, that’s just going by looks, and we shouldn’t do that, right? Well, at least not most of the time. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that his parents must have been either carnies or perhaps snake oil salesmen.
“Hey there, little lady, now come on in! I don’t charge for lookin’!”
“Well now, you dig you somethin’ outta that box there, I won’t charge ya’ an arm and a leg…I don’t want to take this junk home! Oh, now you just get a handful and I’ll charge ya’ a dollar.”
“Hey, hey! Well, now that you bought something, you are a reee-peat customer! You come on back next time and see Superman, and I’ll give you the reee-peat Superman customer discount!”
(to people in a passing truck) “Hey there, now! I don’t charge no extra for people in cars! Y’all come on in and find ya’ somethin!”
He also has poems and sings little ditties, unfortunately none of which I can remember. I’m not sure what is more entertaining; watching Superman ham it up or the people’s reaction to him. An older woman approached his tables and he shouted out, “Hey there, now!”
She looked up as if to say, “Who, me?” Her face was completely bewildered at the sight of this slightly unstable looking individual in a funny hat coming towards her. Her grip on her bag tightened.
“Oh, now! Now come on in here and find ya’ somethin’! Ol’ Superman always has somethin’ for everybody!”
She looked unconvinced and actually, a little terrified.
“Ok, let me see your license, maybe I can give you a Superman discount.”
She took a step back and stammered something, but he kept on going. I was laughing too hard (internally) to watch anymore. After all, I was standing right next to her and didn’t want to laugh right in her face.
I had to walk off to keep from bursting out laughing. I looked down by my feet and there was the most pseudo-terrible painting ever. I would call it a nude painting, but that’s not really it. These people are clearly nekkid. And blue. And highlighted with day-glo yellow and orange. Fortunately, their heads were not in the painting but unfortunately their naughty bits were. I mean, the….artist was clearly showcasing a part/pair of the male anatomy which is typically not showcased. And, for darn good reason.
See? Canton really does have it all.