I can’t say I remember the first time I went to a flea market, but I can tell you where it was; Collinsville, Alabama. Weekends were made for plundering through booths, digging through piles of junque, and finally finding that “treasure” you just can’t live without.
The Collinsville Trade Day has been around for forty-two years and it’s not unusual to find more than 30,000 other treasure hunters on a nice day. The thing about this one is that you have to get there early. Folks generally start setting up shop around 4.30 in the morning and by noon they’re ready to call it a day. By 2 pm you’ll be lucky to find anything at all.
A gently sloping hillside on Highway 11 South just outside of Collinsville is home to the market. Don’t worry about getting lost. If you’re within 35-40 miles of the place anyone can tell you how to get there. After finding a parking spot for your car you’ll find yourself in a heaven of antiques, collectibles, pottery, used “stuff”, pets and farm animals… you name it and you can probably find it there. On one lucky visit, I found a 1936 Truetone radio for my living room. Would you believe it was still in working order? Oh, how I loved that radio!
You’ll also find some good homemade biscuits stuffed with tenderloin or sausage or any number of other goodies. Funnel cakes are a staple of flea markets, so you’ll find lots of those, too!
Trade Day will take care of your Saturday. After some well deserved rest, get up early on Sunday morning and make a run up Highway 278, just beyond Attalla and you’ll find the Mountain Top Flea Market. This one is huge. Really huge, so start out as early as 5 am to satisfy your “treasure appetite”. Furniture, electronics, food, clothing, junk, junque, stuff, and things are all on the menu at Mountain Top!
Once, my Pawpaw and I went to Mountain Top “to see what we can find”. After an hour or so we came upon a man with farming implements for sale. Pawpaw shoved his hands in his overall pockets and looked around a bit, appearing not to find anything of interest. Finally, he tapped a plow stock with the toe of his shoe, tipped it to one side to inspect the working parts, and started to walk away. The owner, his face alight with joy, rushed over. His greeting, “How do, Sir?” was met with an expressionless gaze. “Oh, alright, how you? What you want for this old thing?”
The twinkle in the man’s eyes and the barely contained grin gave away his excitement. “I reckon I could let it go for twenty dollars”.
Now, let me interrupt this to say that this plow, in a well-placed antique shop might’ve fetched $100 even in those days. But, this was Trade Day and nothing was taken at the first offered price.
Pawpaw pushed back his Stetson fedora and gave it another look. “Well,” he drawled, “I might take it off your hands for five. It’s just about used up and I don’t think that cutting blade would turn my fields. Yeah, I’ll give you five dollars and you take it out yonder an’ put it on the back of my ol’ truck.”
Mister Seller was shocked and mortified. “Five dollars wouldn’t pay for the gas it took to bring it up here! Why, that’s worth fifteen of anybody’s dollars!”
“It might be, but it ain’t worth fifteen of my dollars.” Pawpaw pulled out a rolled up ten-dollar bill, and held it in his hand so the man could clearly see it. “You gonna take it over yonder and put it on that blue truck?”
I never did figure out why Pawpaw wanted that plow. He didn’t have a mule to pull it nor plans to get a mule. He just wanted that plow. From that day until the day he died, that old plow stock languished in one of the sheds out back of the house.
Food, fun, treasures, and pure entertainment are always in plentiful supply at the flea market. I’ve told you about the two I frequented the most. There are dozens more scattered across the state, and each one is well worth the drive. So, get out this weekend and go “treasure hunting”!
But! The weekend isn’t here yet, so you have time to check out some of my blogging buddies. Go round to visit them and you’ll be sure to come away with something good. And, you won’t even have to haggle on the price!