Don’t call it a swap meet

29 Nov

As a kid growing up in the San Gabriel Valley there was always a place you could go to stare at a blanket of old tools, sample some cherry juice, buy some jeans that may be knockoffs and beg your Dad for a baby turtle – that magical place, the swap meet. It was where you could find just about anything and it was a Sunday tradition in some households. Wake up late, head on over to the swap meet where you’ll wander for aisles not finding anything that you really want and you’re not exactly sure what your Dad is looking for anyways. It was a good place to pick up a pair of All Stars or a copy of the latest East Side Story collection (if you don’t know what this is you may not be a true chicano). I haven’t been to the swap meet in Rosemead at the old drive in since leaving for UCLA and I’ve only spied a few small swap meets here in the area that don’t come close to the glory of the ones I grew up on. It must be about 10 years ago that the Melrose Trading Post popped up at Fairfax High. I live really close to this high school and this past weekend was the first time I had visited the Trading Post in about a year.

Ok so Trading Post – first let us start this by saying that the organizers do not like this event being called a swap meet. It is though! It’s an outdoor flea market where people go to paw at cowboy shirts and 70’s style coats with big collars. There are multiple booths of guys standing by a field of used boots, not sure who they are trying to sell to I’ve never seen someone trying these shoes on. I was sad to see that the Pyrex lady was gone, she was a good spot to go get a quick gift for Mom as she always had something in red available. Most of the stuff is overpriced and unnecessary but isn’t everything around Melrose? Also gone is the giant table of “sharp things” that was a field of junk drawers dumped out onto two long tables. In its place are several crystal booths! One was offering holiday crystal parties, wtf is that all about?

While the food is better at this swap meet, I do miss the baby turtles. I wonder what this area would do if one morning the trading post opened up not with booths filled with art that looks as though the artists must have some very well funded trust accounts or furniture covered in milk paint but instead had row upon row of regular swap meet booths. Stereo equipment, DJ lights, plate sets, random old tools, guys with cheap looking new tools, the key guy and socks on every corner. At least this place still has a booth where you can buy tamales and a hot dog.

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