Of Rain and Donuts—on the prowl for flea market treasures

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Jean Potetz, the society’s curator of textiles, takes bear home.

Salmon Brook Historical Society’s annual Fall Flea Market was held on Oct. 13. As has been the norm for three months, it rained. It rained on the volunteers who came at 6:30 a.m. to set up. It rained on first-through-the-door dealers, and on intrepid customers in raincoats with dripping umbrellas. Do you remember the spring flea market in May? It rained for that one too.

Old friends reminisced over the rubyrimmed punch bowl about yesteryear’s more civilized ways of entertaining; a self-proclaimed “doll lady” fell in love with and joyously bought 12 Madame Alexander dolls; a dealer, loupe in hand, found some gold earrings; volunteer Jean Potetz went home at noon with a bear she had yearningly eyed (fingers crossed that no one else would want it) as she was collecting customers’ money all morning.

There was a hustle and bustle of people on the prowl for that special bargain, that singular item which they hadn’t realized they’d needed. By late morning the sun came out reluctantly and business picked up. By 3 p.m. the concession tables were empty. Eighty hot dogs had been served and the grill was shut down. Only eight of the original 17 dozen Mrs. Murphy’s donuts remained. It is said that many people come to the society’s biannual flea markets primarily for those donuts, then they shop.

Considering competition from the rain, it was decided to re-open on Sunday. Intermittent visitors stopping by after church or on a Sunday drive did not leave empty-handed. One customer paid for Ruby-rimmed punch bowl and cups (still available). Ellen Cunha, director of sales Jean Potetz, the society’s curator of textiles, takes bear home. and loaded four bar stools, a large metal grill and three vintage standing lamps into her SUV. Then she bought a pair of earrings.

At 2 p.m. Ellen Cunha closed up shop. As director of sales in the Preservation Barn, her two-month marathon of overseeing the sorting and marking of donations—and arranging merchandize on tables, racks, and walls—was over. She had frequently consulted experts in the areas of textiles, jewelry and fine arts. Many volunteers had given hours of help, but Cunha was the mainstay. She had guided the transformation of a mishmash of disparate donations into a boutique-like setting.

Ellen Cunha, director of sales

Todd Vibert, chairperson for flea market planning and implementation, was pleased. Yes, there were fewer dealers who had actually set forth their wares, (20 of the 32 who had paid for space) and the going was sloppy. Admittedly, proceeds were a bit less than the norm, but Vibert said the market had definitely fulfilled its purpose: to provide funds towards upkeep of the society’s buildings, grounds, exhibitions and special projects.

The spring flea market will be held in May. The law of averages predicts cloudless skies, balmy temperatures and a record turnout. Consideration will be given to increasing the donut order.

Ruby-rimmed punch bowl and cups (still available).