Isaac and I visited Hopkinsville's recently re-opened Peddler's Mall this afternoon. It's an indoor flea market, located in part of the old WalMart building. I've shopped there several times in the last couple of months, and I've purchased something each time. I'm trying to help the Peddler's Mall vendors and owners pay their rent.
Today, Isaac found a movie and a cache of Harry Turtledove hardbacks, and I found a little concrete statue for my flowerbed.
Soon I was standing in line behind a talkative, 60-ish woman at the checkout. She mentioned that she was paying $8 for a little glass candelabra that was worth quite a bit more. "What's it worth?" I asked her. "Twenty dollars?"
"More like fifty or sixty," she opined.
I asked if she watches the "American Pickers" show on History Channel. (In this show, Mike and Frank drive across the U.S., visiting people's hordes of old junk and collectible stuff. Whenever they like some object, they try to buy it at a cheap price.)
"Oh, yes!" she cried. "I love that show!"
Then she told me that when she was younger, she guessed she had done some picking. Back then, she said, farmers didn't care if you went into an abandoned house or barn and took what you liked. Nowadays, farmers were likely to shoot you if they caught you.
I was reminded of a yard sale I attended some years ago. Dozens of old wooden and cast iron tools, horseshoes, and other odd pieces were arrayed on the walls of the patio. When I commented on the collection, the owner told me where it came from. When her kids were little, she drove out to the countryside with them on Sunday afternoons, and they went into old barns. The display on her wall was what they brought home from their raids.
I cringe when the "American Pickers" get great deals from people who don't know the value of their own junk. However, I give Mike and Frank (and their producer) credit for finding the owner, asking permission to look, and then making a cash offer. They are paragons of virtue, compared to the old heifer I met today and her kindred spirit with the cast iron collection.
There's picking and there's stealing, and it's not hard to tell the difference.