Although the title may suggest that this post is about last summer’s trip to China, in reality, that just didn’t happen.
Instead I’m discoursing about my First Monday visit to Canton, Texas, albeit occurring on a Friday afternoon. The little, lethargic town of Canton awakens into a bustling, humongous flea market that persists for 4 days, revolving around the first Monday of each month. After living in Texas since for almost forty years, I thought it was high time to see what I could see.
Holy Cow! On arrival, we staggered back in shock and awe (of course Bob was not going to allow me to experience this by myself!) at the seemingly eternal avenues of tents, tables, and pavilions brimming with wares. Only then did we realize that this was an event that could not be absorbed in a single afternoon, but having arrived, we determined to give it our best shot. Once I eenie-meenie-minie-moed which path to take, we were able to take-in this itinerant market at a more macro scale. I recalled the wizened German women going about their daily shopping on Chicago’s Lincoln Avenue when I saw people of all ages, dispositions, and both sexes rolling these caged, two-wheeled shopping carts throughout the sinewy lanes. And loaded with what I can only artfully describe as stuff. Some of the carts were so laden with questionable treasure that the cages were buckling from the weight and their wheels compressed to ovals. Admittedly, however, due to the compact design, these were ideal trollies to push through the crowded lanes and narrow stalls.
Remember the scene from “Wall-E,” where all the evacuated humans resided on a space cruise ship? Those “emigrants” tooled around in one-man hover crafts. This visual is pretty close to what we witnessed in Canton. Not just the handicapped, nor the obese, but young and fit people were ensconced on electric scooters, their children perched in front like mastheads of pirate ships. They are logical devices of course, to run the trails in a single day, but oh-so weird. And dangerous. To perpetuate the full-circle thought, there were booths selling gently-owned vessels-of-alacrity along with the babusia-style shopping carts. We could want for nothing more.
Gradually the realization overcame us that we had dropped in on the land of Duck Dynasty fans and proud Americans proudly displaying American flags, bald eagles and other exhibits of stalwart Americana. I cautiously whispered to Bob that we likely had checked out of Kansas some at the entry gate. But before you get the impression we were a little worried that we may be sniffed out as the flaming liberals we are and unceremoniously tarred, feathered, and ran out of town, we found hawkers and treasure hunters alike to be friendly, curious, and delightful.
Certainly it helped that we brought our faithful labradoodle,
Theo T. Bear, along for the experience. Theo did a terrific job in deflecting suspicion, and was all around petted, hugged, and kissed by many admirers, as well as a stimulating topic of discussion.
Early into our adventure, we found a single tent that possessed the objets d’arts we sought (surely you will note our “find” is not described as stuff nor junk), which gave us great satisfaction, and ultimately permission to head back to Dallas after only a few weary hours of visiting this gritty microcosm in a cultural bell jar.