A Day at the Kane County Flea Market
Normally, back when we used to go to Wolff’s flea with some regularity… we always tried to wake up super early, and to get there right when the gates opened. Today though, we took our time and didn’t meet up until around 10AM (though to be fair, it did involve about an hour of driving for us to get there).
On arriving, the parking lot was huge. Later, we learned from Michelle and Mike that today’s crowds were less than what they normally see.
One of the first items we spotted, after the garden area – a cylindrical storage system, complete with triangular drawers. I could see Liz eyeing this thing, trying to figure out how we could afford it and how we could fit it somewhere in the house.
I learned that these sewing machines, while cool looking, are not practical at all (since they’re 100% manual, with the foot pedal).
One of several buildings, packed with about two rows of vendors spanning the entire length.
While there were lots of folks wandering around the outside booths and rows, there were just as many inside each building. There were so many, in fact, that at times it was difficult to move anywhere once you stopped.
Imagine a constant stream of people walking by. If you stepped to one side and exited the stream, you had to almost fight and push your way back in, before you could actually go anywhere.
The day was warm outside, and continued to get hotter and hotter (the high was to be around 85). Despite a lack of AC, being away from the sun did feel a lot better.
A set of glass slides, grouped inside a small, wooden box. The tag on the side read $22, but I wasn’t sure if that was for each slide… or for them all.
Holding one of the slides to the light, coming in from a nearby exit.
Another slide, this one featuring a waterfall.
Mike, showing off a few that he liked.
I’m not sure what this one is, but it looks pretty neat.
There was no vendor around when we were browsing, but I did make it a point to circle back on our way out. I did find the man who was selling all this, and learned these slides were for a magic lantern.
I geeked out with the guy for a little while, and enjoyed his description of things. I found out it was $22 for the whole set, and I was definitely tempted… but walked away. I thought about haggling, but as neat as I found these slides… I wasn’t sold that I really had to have them.
They were pretty cool, though.
It’s hard to remember, but Rodney Dangerfield really was a big thing, back in the 80’s.
Side note: his headstone is hilarious.
Some vintage comics, including a few early Avengers.
The soap opera that is the Amazing Spider-Man.
Walking inside yet another building.
Despite the oppressive heat, there was still something tantalizing about the smell of funnel cakes.
A lovely, potted plant…
… that Mike noticed was housed inside a can of CALF BRAINS!
Mike ended up being the Eagle Eyes of this trip, and continued to spot a ton of gold that I overlooked.
I know the sign says “Roy Rogers Double R Bar Ranch,” but I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that this is some kind of prison box meant to contain demons from the dark dimension. Right?
I mean, look at this thing. It is totally haunted.
Was tempted to buy this, just so I could keep it in my house. And run home to get it, should I never need to.
A nursery scale…
… with a very practical warning. You really have to wonder – is the United States really such a litigious society, or was there some incident that necessitated these kinds of warnings/reminders?
Props again to Mike for spotting this.
Snapped this shot of a guy walking away from a Star Wars themed booth, taking home what looks like a very large Jabba the Hut figurine.
250 Close Encounters
At first, I thought this was some kind of saw. But then I overheard a dad talking to his son about it, and learned it’s for music. Similar to how a player piano reads music off a sheet of perforated paper, these performations pluck the string on some kind of device.
Wish I knew what these were actually played on!
The creepiest butler.
These are not the vacuums you are looking for.
9-year-old me is still at this table, listing all the reasons why we should have purchased this sweet dragon-encrusted dagger.
On a related note, there were several tables displaying nothing but knives. It was a little unnerving, but so it goes at a flea market.
One guy had a small set of these wands, that looked like just the handles to some big flashlights. The sign read: “Stun Sticks. Do Not Touch.”
I really wanted a photo of that but, alas, he wasn’t keen on me taking any pictures.
Mike, checking out some player piano rolls.
I mentioned having come across an old Edison phonograph before, and how cool those things are. Still keeping an eye out for them.
Someone’s wedding dress, which was a sad thing to find displayed out in the sun.
Reminded me of this fantastic poem, by James Galvin.
Not sure what Sodium Sulfite is for, but man that looks old.
Also not sure it’s the best idea to store that next to the sausage pizzas.
Spotted this on a table, and totally have no idea what it is. Anyone have a guess?
Looks like some kind of kitchen utensil. Maybe a peeler of some kind? I looked around for a vendor to ask, but didn’t see anyone.
There’s always some repeating theme, at each flea. And I guess that today, that theme would be Rodney.
Funny thing – we spotted a very used version of our tractor sprinkler. These guys are really quite neat, as they are powered by the water and travel along the garden hose as a guide. They’re slow, but you can water a length of yard without much effort.
They were asking $30, but you can get them for about $66 new on Amazon (disclaimer: affiliate link). The one here looks a bit vintage, but it’s really just old and used.
Another poetic aside – was reminded of this fantastic poem, by Robert Bly.
Mike and I were sifting through a booth, looking at a stack of old books. I opened one up, looking for any notes or inscriptions along the inside cover. Saw that this one was signed/dated around 1930.
I don’t feel so well, myself.
H. “Stroleo” Staley
This was an odd title. For $5, you could get a copy of “The Rudiments of Written Arithmentic for Graded Schools.”
When I looked at the inside cover, my jaw dropped! The date on here is Summer 1886! Amazing!
Mike was flipping around the inside, and found several little bookmarks – scraps of fabric or ribbon, and little bits of things tucked between various pages.
Here, there’s a small leaf with a drawing and a tiny note.
It’s hard to read, but I think this says “My Secret Prayer, January 15.”
I was realy in love with all the little notes on this book. I didn’t care at all for the content, I just loved that it was over 130 years old! And that there were these little bits of the person who owned the book, scattered between the pages.
And one more – reminded of another poem, this time by Billy Collins.
With the sun getting higher and the day getting hotter, we decided to go to one of the enclosed buildings. Though there was some AC going, it still felt hot everywhere. But being inside was definitely a relief from the outdoors.
I nearly walked by this booth, but Mike spotted that these were small film reels. At first glance, I thought they were for kids or something like that – but the seller came by and said it was all classic boxing scenes.
I never wanted a projector so bad. In hindsight, it would have been interesting to buy these and send them off to get digitized. I never ever bothered to ask the seller what he was asking for these.
A set of Star Wars cups, released close to when the film first came out!
Each cup also had a brief description of the characters depicted.
The only way this could get any nerdier is if the bit at the bottom said “Number Seven of Nine.”
And a Chia Zombie. This guy’s booth had a ton of great stuff.
I didn’t get his name, but did get a business card. You can find his wares at continentalhobby.com.
We set off to where I remembered seeing a beer tent, but I was deceived. It was a popcorn vendor, who just happened to have a small “Bud Lite” awning. We came to the slow realization that there was no beer to be had, anywhere at the flea. So we started shuffling slowly back to the building we had just left.
En route, we passed a sweet corn stand. Mike debated a while, then jumped right in and got one for each of us.
Shakers of salt, hanging from chains. I guess if there was ever the embodiment of a nutritionist’s nightmare, this would be it.
Mike and I finished our ears of corn in the hot sun, and I have to tell you… it was good.
Fast forward to the four of us doing a final pass of some vendors, Liz haggling with a seller and getting a great deal on a Bakelite bracelet.
We decided to call it around 2PM, and left the flea to grab lunch at Nobel House. I got a delicious Tangerine Wheat beer from Lost Coast, which was a really refreshing thing after the hot hours walking in the sun. Also splurged and had a burger with onion rings, which made for a really great lunch.
We chatted and caught up a bit, and about 90 minutes later… Liz and I were both being overcome by the heat and our full bellies. We had a lot of errands we were planning on doing, but instead just headed straight home.
A full, long day at the flea. It’s been a while since I’ve been, and I’ve now got a mind to go digging for my friend Maureen’s book, so I can re-read it again!
Up at 5AM, Searching for Treasure at Wolff’s Flea Market
Early Morning at Wolff’s Flea Market, With Friends
Mother’s Day at the I-80 Flea Market
Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America