Chaos? Mayhem? No, just a flea market ...

 ... Stringer photog gets stomped ...

by Don Norris

The photos are all linked to larger versions.

It started out as a leisurely lunch at the neighboring town's senior center, in Saugus, known for its epicurian delights.

But the fact was, it was the day the annual three-day flea market opened. Three of us Melrosians joined the rush just before lunch: two came away unscathed, proudly holding their loot above their heads -- but the third (the only male in the group) got stomped and told,

"If you aren't part of the rush, young man, get out of the way." I was flattered.

That's where some lady walked right across my instep. But it was okay, and I managed to continue with what I consider fun: Shooting pictures of a melee on opening day of an annual flea market.

Without these pictures, you just can't imagine the, ah, rush at the tables. It was almost all the ladies, as a couple of cautious males hung back, afraid to elbow a space at a table. Apparently the Saugus Senior Center runs this flea market every year, and it draws buyers from communities throughout this area.

In fact, the luncheon hall was full that Friday, and management was scurrying to set up more places. Lunch was stuffed cabbage, and it was right good. Furthermore, we sat with some of the flea market civilian helpers, a couple who told us of their trips about the country in a small Toyota motorhome.

Strangers are usually fun, and soon they aren't strangers.

But back to the flea market. They had set up six-foot tables all along the corridors of both wings of the senior center. And all those tables were piled with donations -- everything you can imagine was piled there, haphazardly. There was no other way to do it. Haphazard.

And the buyers were there in numbers -- not droves, but you can see how crowded things got from the pictures. It was fun, you could see it on the faces of the combatants - or, er, the ladies. Most had a look of puzzlement as they sorted through the stuff piled there before them.

Some of those ladies weren't seniors. The word gets around. The flea market is a bargain, for sure. For example, my wife Lorry came away with two brass horns -- not really musical horns, but the small circular horns that are used in Christmas decorations. Fifty cents each.

Our dining partner, Natalie Thomson, came away with a plastic shopping bag full of stuff -- I'm not sure what it was, and she wasn't particularly interested in displaying her loot. But at 25 cents, everything is a bargain.

One fellow -- obviously a well-organized fellow -- came away with a card-shuffling gizmo. He said they used these things at some card function there at the Saugus Center. Another guy said he'd seen that same shuffler sold for the past three years. They laughed.

Me? I really made out. I bought four mystery paperbacks by classic mystery writers -- Ross MacDonald, Sue Grafton and the late Louis L'Amour -- a western, of course. The only place you can find L'Amour and MacDonald these days is in the dusty back shelves at the library. The fourth was by a very British Sarah Caudwell.

But the prize of the day was something I shall treasure forever -- at least a couple of months, anyway. It is a battery-operated clock built into a very flesh colored plastic "B" -- of the word "Bath". You gotta see this thing to believe. It is now five feet from me, from my computer, on the wall of my den. It is funky, it is rare, it is unique and now it is mine. For a BUCK!

Now wasn't that a great time?

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