4:30 on a Sunday morning. My dad nudges me and says, “Time to get up.” I awake out of my dream state, cranky because it is pitch black out and I do not realize what is happening. It is far to early for me, a ten year old, to wake up. I rub my eyes and try to fall back asleep, then something hits me and I realize that today is the day. Today is the day I am allowed to go to the Renningers farmer’s market in Adamstown! I sluggishly crawl out of bed and drag myself into my dad’s old beat up green van. He used the van for his work, which was salvaging old buildings for antiques – like stained glass windows and church pews – and then selling them for his business. The van had many dings and scratches on it and clutter in it, but I loved it. I liked how it stood out with its bold green color; it was almost like an extension of my dad. There were only two seats in the front, the rest of the van was seatless in the back to store cargo and supplies. I crawl into the back of the van and lay on the ground trying to sleep again, but I was too excited. This was the day I would finally see the place my dad had told me about. He’d gone there several times, and the place sounded mystical. He told me about the antique dealers there and how they sold anything you could imagine. I was really eager to see if this was true. I couldn’t fathom what I was going to see in a short while.
The ride up to Adamstown seemed like five hours though it was really only one and a half. I couldn’t wait to get there. My dad tuned the radio to a religious channel, which played church songs played on a pipe organ, though I never really considered him very religious. I guess that was supposed to be our substitute for church that day, as we would be missing it. I remember peering up to take a glance out of the windshield and seeing the sunrise – the sky was a bluish, purplish, reddish color with swirling clouds. It was serene, especially with the religious music in the background. We drove into the sunrise all the way to Adamstown.
Before going to Renningers, we stopped at the gas station to fill up. I didn’t want to wait an extra three minutes to get to the farmer’s market and see everything, but I was rewarded for my patience when my dad let me get a pack of hockey cards when he was paying for his gas inside the station. This was a big deal for me, as I was never really allowed to get anything on a whim before this, but starting right then, my dad began the tradition of buying me a pack of hockey cards every time we stopped for gas before going to Renningers. I thought my dad was the best for buying me a pack every week. I then came to my senses and realized that we were not here to buy hockey cards; we were here for the farmer’s market. I looked up and lo and behold, we were there!
We pulled into the entrance and I hear the tires chew up the gravel. I look ahead and feel very disappointed; all I could see was a long, one story, boring white building with lots of doors. I look out the window to the right and I see some weird looking birds fenced off that resembled ostriches. My dad said they were emus. Where were all of the antiques? Where were all the toys? What is this place with weird looking birds and a vanilla building? We kept churning through the driveway and someone directed us toward parking. We pulled forward, and then behind the building I finally saw what we were here for. Hidden behind this mundane building was a cornucopia of vendors lined up with tables full of anything and everything, and people bustling about trying to claim whatever catches their eye.
My dad parked and I sprung out of the van. I couldn’t wait to get close up and see all the interesting things I had only glanced at, but first we ate a quick breakfast of hot chocolate and some oddly cut circular french fries with ketchup; the breakfast of champions. After finishing, I could look at everything there was to offer. I remember scanning the old, rickety, gray plywood tables stocked with items from the past. We went up and down the rows of tables examining all the interesting things. There were wooden chests, old magazines, glass bottles, comic books, iron gates, records, stained glass windows, sports cards, carved wooden figurines, clocks, and any other antique or knick-knack you could think of. My dad looked mainly for wrought iron gates, stained glass windows, and vintage glass bottles, which he could sell for his business. He would stop to look at the items that caught his eye, inspect them, and if he was satisfied, the bartering process would begin.
“How much is stained glass window?”
“Seventy-five dollars, it’s a very nice window.”
“Yeah, but it’s damaged, I think it’s only worth sixty dollars?
“Well, hmmmm, I can’t sell it that low, how about sixty-five dollars?”
“I’ll take it.”
It amazed me how well my dad was able to bargain with those people. He could talk almost anyone into selling something for less than they wanted. If they refused we would continue on, then come back later with the item still sitting there. My dad would then offer them the same price again and they would reluctantly give in.
The things I was interested in were old comic books of Spiderman and the Hulk, vintage Pez dispensers, Star Wars memorabilia, Beanie Babies, actions figures, yo-yo’s, cap guns, and anything to keep a kid entertained. The only thing that diminished my excitement were the weird looking people sitting behind the tables. It seemed like the same person stared at me from behind each table: an old, weathered, gray bearded man missing a tooth or two smoking a cigarette drinking their black coffee. These country folk scared me a little because at home I had never really seen these types of people. These vendors never spoke to me, just kept a close eye on me. I suppose they were afraid I would rip the comic books or knock over a porcelain figurine, but I was always very careful. I had a great time looking at everything even though I never really bought anything. The intrigue of the different items kept me entertained.
Once we had found our treasures for the day, we dropped them off in the van and headed into the boring white building. The doors led inside to a comfortable, lively market full of more antiques. I couldn’t believe that the boring building was actually very exciting inside. The indoor vendors sold mostly the same things as the outside ones, but the items seemed to be more valuable to me, maybe because the vendors inside were more like people I had seen before. None of the people inside stared at me while I looked at their comics, they seemed more civilized. My dad bought a few more random antiques inside, like an old doll or painting, talked to some buddies he knew, then we headed home. I was more than satisfied with the experience. I wanted to go back every Sunday, even at the expense of losing a few hours of sleep.
I cherish this experience because it is one of the best times I had with my dad before he passed away. I went with him to Renningers farmer’s market every other Sunday to search for antiques to buy and resell. Just him and I, then when my sister was old enough, she would come, too. I enjoyed the cites and smells of the market, it was so much different from home. I had never seen most of the items the vendors offered at the market. The people at the market were of a different character than people from home; they were more backwards than people I’d known. Their life revolved around the farmer’s market, and I found that interesting. When I was the age of ten, it was a new experience that I enjoyed; it was an escape from the sometimes repetitive life at home watching television and playing video games all day. When my dad passed away we had to give up his business because my mom couldn’t run it by herself. I haven’t been back to Renningers in a while, but I will always have that first memory of being there with my dad.