Monday, September 11, 2006

Swap Meet Finds

--- Update ---

Roger Hedgecock, a local radio talk show host for KOGO AM 600 read my email to my coworkers on the air today. I'm truly honored. It can be heard at: <http://209.126.179.68/rogerhedgecock.2006-09-12.mp3> at the 1:55 minute time block. Thank you, Mr. Hedgecock.

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Martin and I went to the swap meet at the arena this weekend. He went off to look at something, so I decided to walk around to an area I hadn't seen yet. There was this grubby old rusty van with makeshift plywood tables surrounding it. What caught my eye were these red and white stripes with gold fringe trim crumpled up in a messy heap next to some rusty tools on one of the tables.

"It can't be," I thought. I walked over to that crumpled heap, and slowly lifted it off the table. Sure enough, it was a ratted Old Glory with blue that was faded to a light lavender and the stitching of her stars coming apart. My eyes filled with tears and I picked her up and held her to me for just a moment. Then I laid her out on the cleanest part of that table and started to fold her just the way my father taught me.

You should have seen the crowd that gathered around to watch me fold that flag. There must have been 25 people. As I deftly made the folds, the crowd started murmuring their disapproval of the guy and several comments were made about his disrespect. People started talking about their service, and what sons, brothers, and nephews, and daughters they had who were currently serving. I told them that I had served, too, in the Air Force. It was starting to get ugly for the guy, so he called out to me, "Thank you, lady! I tried to do it, but it kept coming apart!"

I shot him a very unlady-like look (instead of shouting at him like I wanted to do) and continued to fold, triangle over triangle. When I got it just right, with all of the tassel tucked in and no red showing, I asked him how much. The crowd looked like they wanted me to just take it, but I wasn't going to make another wrong by stealing.

He made $5 off of me that day for that tattered, fraying American flag. But that was the only sale he made for quite a while - nobody else in that crowd bought anything from that guy.