For as long as I can remember, childhood weekends often involved packing the blue wire wheelie cart into the van and heading over to the swap meet. Of the many swap meets, antique and flea markets; the one at the Long Beach Veterans Stadium is definitely one of the more memorable. Most recently I went there last weekend.
This antique market has been around has been around since 1982, featuring tons of antique and vintage items from 800 vendors. It is not so much the place that makes it a historically L.A. site but the objects themselves. They hold the mundane and mysterious of SoCal’s residents. Whatever possessed someone to hold onto a full-sized, merry-go-round horse? Or a Coca-Cola briefcase? One man’s junk is another man’s treasure—or for a historian, it might shed a little light on that historical time frame. What seems pretty commonplace now, might be really worth something in the future, either in terms of money or the stories it can tell. Perhaps you’ve got some family heirloom lying around the house that has some special memories. Maybe some Hall China your grandma liked to stock up on back when there were door-to-door salespeople. Or an old Shirley Temple or Chatty Cathy doll stowed away in the attic.
Only recently I’ve come to enjoy the swap meet—as a kid I mostly just appreciated the cinnamon rolls (those are still mandatory), but now its wares concern me more.
I’ve been more interested in taking things that I find around me and manipulating them to fit my current needs rather than just buying something brand new. At the swap meet, there are all sorts of old jewelry, photographs, furniture, posters, clothing, and dinnerware to be discovered. The layout, filled with avid bargain hunters, often feels chaotic, stuffed with one person’s junk and another one’s treasure. I love artifacts of the mundane. It seems like junk, yet there’s still some kind of story behind it. There’s more than meets the eye.