Friday, August 24, 2007

The Park N Swap

So many things happened in my childhood, it’s hard to say what stuck and what didn’t. Life was just topsy-turvy. One day was normal and the next felt like you were doing handstands underwater.

Part of the divorce called for visitation rights for my father. I think they were supervised. At first we were aloud at the home he was staying at, as he was living with family friends. But then after he hit me it was at our house where he would come over, turn on the television, and promptly fall asleep. Yay, daddy’s here. *snore*

Legally, I think my father had custody rights. He had to pay child support, after all. I’m not sure. But then my mother got it in her head that life was better in New York, far away from the desert wasteland of Arizona. Granted, the place was starting to explode with industrialization which in theory would bring jobs, but New York was the promised land.

My mother sent out letters to her ‘family,’ that is, the ones she believed to be her family. At the same time we started selling everything we owned at the Park and Swap, which is basically a huge parking lot that rents out spaces each weekend so people can come and sell things. My brother and I loved the Park and Swap. We would run around and look at everything and sometimes bug our mother for money to buy something new, which of course we couldn’t considering the point was to sell off everything we owned. Once my brother did buy something new, I think a water gun, so my mother made him try to return it. When he couldn’t, he had to sell it at our table, and he made a profit.

Goodness, the Park and Swap. We would sit there all day in the sun trying to sell off what little we had. I remember there was this mirrored placemat my mother had, and on top she had placed a piece of crystal (one of her former occupations involved home parties and she had some product left over). Someone told her it was basically blinding everyone so it would be best to move it. There was the time she sold some shoehorn and then heard the guy snicker that it was worth double what he paid.

One time, I really wanted to play cards. I was bored. My mother was selling the deck of cards for 50 cents. I pleaded with her until finally she gave in. Inside was a twenty-dollar bill. She forgot she had hidden it in there. She always secreted money away, something I do now too. Every time I clean I find money hidden in places I have forgotten about.

In Arizona we have what are called dust devils, the wind starts to zip around and basically form low-level funnel clouds on the ground. It’s kind of like mini-tornado’s that zip through the vastness of the desert but then die down quickly. Next to our booth was a woman selling these little rings, they were maybe a dollar each. I used to love trying them on and smiling at the sparkling ‘jewels’ which were probably nothing more than cheap glass. One of those dust devils tore through the Park and Swap and sent everyone’s wares flying. We all scrambled to get our goods, and then helped the others around us. I ran to the lady selling jewelry and helped her get everything back together. Such excitement! Then she wanted to offer me a ring as a thank you, since I’d been admiring them for so long. I was so happy! They were a bit big for me, but there was one with a pink heart. . . .

I wasn’t allowed by my mother and had to return the ring. She refused to allow this person to give me anything. I understood part of it, she wanted me to not expect a reward, but I still remember that ring.

The best part about the Park and Swap was that after we loaded up what was left and went home, we would stop at the 7/11 and get a Big Gulp. And, even better, the fountain was in the open so we could control how much ice or soda to put in. I always mixed mine, as much as it grossed out my brother. The best recipe was half orange, a quarter sprite, and a quarter cherry soda. Sometimes I’d ad a touch of root beer on top for some bite. In fact, my favorite soda is still a mixture of orange soda, sprite, and root beer. Not that I’ve had it in years. But my brother would say I was disgusting and my mother wonder, until finally she caved and tried some and admitted it was indeed tasty. As for the others, my brother would get I think Sprite or Cola and my mother her Diet Coke.


Chewy said...

It's so hard NOT to want to buy something at flea markets.

I once found a $50 bill behind a photo I hung on the wall. I, myself, had put it there months prior and forgot all about it.

In reply to your comment at my blog; "Dirty Pillows" from the movie "Carrie" - or in my case "Dirty Blue Pillows". LOL!

david mcmahon said...

Great post. I'm sure you remember the ring vividly ....

cherished79 said...

I love flea markets and especially 'Big Gulps'. Not good at bargaining though, would prefer just to pay the price that's asked.

Amel's Realm said...


I LOVED the part about the ring and how you mixed your soda he he he...;-D