Shipshewana Flea Market

(photo credit)

My mom had given me a bottle of lotion. The smell of the lotion reminded me of potpourri. Not just any kind of potpourri, one that took me back to a place that held many memories of hot summer days and lemonades. A place called Shipshewana. It was a very long time ago, but I remember.

In the early mornings we’d get woken up at the hotel, mom loaded us sleepy kids in the suburban, and we fell back asleep as dad drove us all to the market. Not to shop. To work. Half asleep in my seat, eyes closed, I knew we were driving past miles and miles of cornfields in Amish country Indiana. We passed the KOA campground, the twin mills, more cornfields, some houses and I’d think of eating blueberry pancakes at the Perkins not far from the market. I think it was Perkins? We went sometimes and it was my favourite. As dad drove, the familiar smells of cardboard boxes, blankets and dirty shoes filled the car. It was about a twenty minute drive on those roads and when dad made the last left turn, I’d wait for the bumps of the railroad tracks beneath us, then I’d open my eyes. I loved seeing the row of old terrace housing. There was a laundromat with a flag outside, a barber shop, and other things I never got to find out what they were. These days it would be charmingly vintage.

The tiny town was buzzing. Horse and buggies everywhere, their owner’s faces told everyone they were running errands. The sound of horse hoofs on the road was always more welcoming than car engines driving by. Coach buses filled the parking lot.  It was still so early that the mist was still sleeping, yet the tourists filled the few restaurants for breakfast and shops were already open for the day. Out of towners were easy to spot: men in baggy jeans and the women wore teeshirts and ponytails. Later in the day when the sun reigns strongest, those teeshirts came off and women wore bikini tops. Even the old ladies wore strapless tops. Their bra-less breasts hanging down to their waist. I promised myself that when I grew breasts, I’d give them the support they needed. I’d also keep myself covered up. Only my husband will be allowed to see my saggy arm skin.

Soon we’d be lined up with other vendors, driving to our designated spot to set up for the day. We all had our assignments and knew exactly what to do. Tarps, tables, linens, boxes, merchandise, signs, bags, money bags, double check the change and eat donuts.

It has been over fifteen years since the last time.  I wonder if the “kite man” and Avon lady are still there. In my dreams I often see a market that represents Shipshe. Sometimes I can still taste their amazing nacho supreme and chicken salad croissant sandwiches. Maybe a summer soon I will be able to go with my husband and kids. Fingers crossed. x

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