The Flea Market at Laurel Junction draws me back ... again

July 3, 2022

Singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell's art teacher once told her, "If you can paint with paints, you can paint with words." If I could paint a happy Saturday for myself, it would be exploring the Laurel Junction Flea Market at the intersection of Route 13 and County Seat Highway (Route 9) on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Stores inside open daily at 10 a.m.

It's a veritable souk filled with finds. The road there from Georgetown is through relatively unspoiled countryside free of taupe-hued subdivisions and spotted with a few chicken houses near gigantic farms. On the way to it this past Saturday, I saw a few opportunities at individual homes having their own yard sales, usually displaying piles of used clothing, a rag pile of colors. One had a rusted old bus with clothes spilling out the windows. Sometimes I find frames in these places along the road. As my mother once said, "Pop-up roadside yard sales are a sign of hard times." But then again, she lived through the Great Depression. Yes, and times are hard now even though she is long gone. Oh, the harsh wisdom of Marguerite!

That saying rang true this last Saturday in Laurel. There were so many vendors you could hardly drive through the lot. The purveyors of old clothes tables seemed to hug the periphery, latecomers probably, but at the heart are beautiful fruits, vegetables and plants, resplendent like colorful jewels in the sun.

Live exotic chickens peck corn in cages while a kettle corn machine churns out candy-coated popcorn nearby. There are tables of useful tools for good prices. Jeff bought a pitchfork and a long-handled shovel for a total of $12. Black-and-yellow drills like large yellowjackets are lined up on display ready to buzz through your next project.

Some tables offer toys and other collectibles. Jeff also purchased a Hillary Clinton Nutcracker for $6, his third purchase of that small amount. He's no bargainer. I told him they probably said $6 because they expected to only get $5. Rows of jewelry gleam in the sun, my treasures that I use as collage in some of my paintings.

Moving to the indoor stores, my favorite small shop is the one where my friend Gladis Jeronimo sells colorful Guatemalan imports of very good quality. We communicate through our mutual love of Guatemalan handicrafts. Her English is a little halting, but she fares much better than I would if I were peddling paintings in her native country. She also cleans houses and is very reliable. She should come to my house sometime in the future, because I display many of her crafts inside.

Another interesting indoor store is called She's Got Rocks in Her Head LLC. This could be me, so I go inside. It's sort of a sorceress's showcase for the curandero and rock collector. Dreamcatchers hang from the ceiling like kaleidoscopic spiderwebs. I have a few at home to catch my dreams, which are very colorful, as you can imagine. I try to store my dreams for these columns. They're best caught when I wake up in the morning. I purchased a small, iridescent skull for my display shelf in my Frida Kahlo kitchen. The shelves would be better used for canned goods, but I really need my retablo for when I do say the occasional prayer.

Jewel-colored rugs depicting lions, tigers and roses line the walls and lead you to the food court underneath the Bunky Eye Stage, which is perched 10 feet off the floor; it’s where local musicians play popular and country tunes. In the winter, you can find comfort in hot soup from their trusty crockpot (my favorite year-round).

One memorable winter Saturday as I read the menu, a smiling, lively old woman with bright blue eyes and a wizened face was gyrating to the music. She reminded me so much of my favorite Great-aunt Edna. In between waving her arms she said, "They've got pea and ham soup today!" I really enjoyed a steaming cup of this ancient times-inspired soup! I’m sure marketeers have partaken of this porridge for centuries.

I reluctantly leave the market with a bagful of goodies including a small collection of jewelry that has inspired me for the table full of wooden cut-outs I have baking in the sun to dry at home. They will decorate my Mardi Gras seahorse. There were no frames today to carry hanging from my arms like gigantic bracelets.

I'm still looking for the plastic candy gumdrop Christmas chains that I found there once. (Do any of my readers have any? Please contact me if you do.) The homemade relish man wasn't there, but maybe next time. Just more trinkets for underneath my paint-covered table filled with bags of bags. But please remember that I'm only "one-quarter of an ordered hoarder," future visits to Laurel Junction notwithstanding.

The Flea Market at Laurel Junction is located at 10912 County Seat Highway, Laurel, DE 19956 for all of you who know how to use GPS. I don't, so I ask Jeff to drive me!

  • Pam Bounds is a well-known artist living in Milton who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art. She will be sharing humorous and thoughtful observations about life in Sussex County and beyond.

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