God bless Mom, who at the last-minute arranged to move-in for 2 days. We arrived in Austin late Tuesday night. Before we crashed, there was a pizza delivery and some cable watching [and maybe some chocolate cake.] The next morning, we drove an hour east to Warrenton, where I was told by an insider [who I befriended just 2 days ago] about where to shop. We thought we'd scan the rows upon rows really fast then head over to the Marburger Farm Antique Show. But we never made it. There was just too much junk to oogle over...
I don't know where I got my fascination with antiques - but there's something quirky and cool about having a piece that's got a story. I don't enjoy actually purchasing old things as much as I enjoy looking at how they are displayed. How trunks or jars are used to house unpredictable items. It's creative - and yes, inspirational!
We didn't pry ourselves away until 8pm that night and that was only because we got personal with the sweetest couple that sold us our new bench. Jeff and Sue from Lavender Bay Antiques. So hospitable and open - they shared with us their stories of how they met, what they did before "antiques" and the importance of raising kids. As you can imagine, we talked a lot about our own kids - because by this time, we were missing them dearly. We arrived home late last night/morning and unloaded our treasured finds. Ava heard us come in and woke up. We cuddled and I was in heaven - again.
This morning, we got to show Ava & Noah what a typewriter was. And as expected, they had the same fascination as we do with it - the sound of keys snapping as they karate chop the ink ribbon.
We also picked up a blue bench, circa 1840s, imported from Hungary. Two child-size farm chairs for the kids' art table, a writing desk from the early 1900's [where the wooden chair is attached to a metal box/desk], a painting, Pepsi crate and salvaged art frame.
Ultimately, it wasn't the old stuff we took possession of that made this experience memorable - but the conversations shared between random people from all walks of life. I was deeply fascinated by how illustrated they were about their lives. The preacher's wife who raised 6 kids but found self-worth after discovering the canvas; Wisconsin, riding a rusty old bicycle while selling me his Remington; the estate sale jeweler and her husband who gave me a crash course on what's real; Grandpa with his not-so-funny-story about his last encounter with a Dallasite; Mr. Miami who deals from Paris direct and needed to sell his 150 yr old "sofa bed" and of course, the Yank and Aussie who helped us fit a 7 foot bench in our car.
I feel like I stepped outside of my own storybook life and into another with details and characters I couldn't have imagined alone. It's true what they say about small Texas towns - it's quaint and weird. This much is true: You don't want to be left there after dark.
And, I also know that trips alone with your husband are mandatory and should be free of parenting guilt. Shopping at flea markets and antique road shows are rejuvenating to a crafter's spirit...and children spending time alone with Grandma without me refereeing how much chocolate they eat - priceless.
Here's what you need to know before you go:
1. Plan ahead - make a date with your spouse or girlfriends. You definitely don't want to go alone. The next outrage is Sept 30 - Oct 4, 2008.
2. Stay at a B&B if you plan on staying more than a couple of days. There aren't too many to chose from, and vendors get first pick. However, if you are a last minute planner like us - you CAN find one by contacting the chamber. They send out a mass email to all businesses and owners will call you back promptly if they have a cancellation they need to fill.
3. Start in Warrenton. You can spend an entire day and a half here alone [if you move quickly].
4. Plan a few days for the Marburger show alone. Vendors in Warrenton will tell you that it's not worth the entry fees. But I have a feeling it is and oh, so much more. Especially if you are looking for a particular hard to find piece. It costs $10 after 2pm on the first opening day. If you are really ambitious, you'll pay $25 from 9am-2pm on opening day.
5. There's a "pre-week" sale the week before. So if you want to skip Marburger and the other countless antique paid shows, then consider going the week before. You'll get the best deals at this time I am told. And Marburger vendors allegedly buy antiques here first and sell at their own booths.
6. Who cares. The way I see it, it's an experience. Talk with people and have fun. Get to know the quirky people who travel so far to trade and profit from an American past time.
7. Eat at Legal Tender Saloon if you're in Warrenton - they have huge portions and a friendly atmosphere.
8. Bring your cash, checks, credit cards - not your kids. We only saw 3 children the entire day. And they looked miserable. A babysitter is an investment.
See you in September!