I love to wander flea markets. At an antique show, you know you’re going to see some wonderful things. They might not be exactly what you collect, but they are fun to look at anyway.
A flea market can be a much bigger challenge. Amidst the new socks and T-shirts, old record albums and kitchen utensils, you sometimes can find some great history.
This past summer, early on a Saturday morning, I was wandering the aisles of a little flea market in northeast Georgia when a large, framed photo of Admiral George Dewey caught my eye. Dewey was a hero of the Spanish-American War in 1898, and talked about as a presidential candidate for some years afterward.
The Dewey photo drew me in, and as I approached, I noticed a young couple leafing through some old ledgers beside the Dewey photo. They talked to the dealer, talked between themselves, then eventually walked away. Whew! I wanted to get a good look at the items and was concerned they would buy the items before I got a chance to look.
One of the ledgers had a print of Dewey that had been pasted to the front of it. I opened the ledgers and found that someone had taped newspaper articles in them from the start of the war all the way through its completion a few months later. The articles were all from Atlanta and Valdosta, Ga., newspapers, so they are heavy with stories about local boys in the war. But they also contain all the major events of the war, including Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
After a short negotiation, I left with the two ledgers and Dewey photo in my possession. Another great day at the flea market.