Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mary from Neshanic Flea Market

Yesterday morning I saw a familiar photograph in the newspaper obituaries with the name Mary Frances Weiss. I knew the lady, but not under that name. I knew her as Mary Stone or Mary from the flea market.

I first met Mary in the mid-1970s when I bought a house in Neshanic Station and began visiting the Sunday Neshanic Flea Market - which Mary owned and ran. By the 1980s I had accumulated enough stuff (much of it at the flea market) that I took a space to sell some of it.

Now, you have to understand how "getting a space" at Neshanic worked. The night before you packed your merchandise in your car/van/truck/trailer. At 4 or 5 a.m. you rolled out of bed, drank a lot of coffee, and drove through the dark night to Neshanic. Once you arrived you got in the line of cars so that Mary could assign you your space.

When you got to the head of the line, Mary would slowly walk up to your vehicle and peer at you. This was a good time to roll down your window, wave, and let out a cheery "Morning, Mary!" Mary would point at you and then crook her finger indicating that you were to follow her. She would slowly cross the market (a large dirt field) with you trailing behind at a safe and respectful distance until she pointed at an empty space. You pulled in to that space while she went back to the next vendor.

A few vendors who had been selling at Neshanic for several decades had regular assigned spaces and didn't have to go through this.

One day we ran across a friend who told us that recently his wife had gone to sell some of her parents' stuff at Neshanic Flea Market and Mary had yelled at her. We were surprised and asked exactly what happened.

"Well,I don't know," he said. "My wife drove over there nice and early. There were some other sellers there so she asked them what to do. They told her she should just pick a spot and drive in, so she started to drive..." Okay, this is the place where we started laughing so hard that he couldn't finish his story.

The old-timers had sure set up that newcomer.

Mary's obituary.

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