WAUKEE 1996: Asylum of Mud

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609 South First Street Odessa, Missouri 64076

I knew I was in trouble when it rained all of Thursday night and continued right through Friday morning.

Early Friday morning Jerry put his heavy mud boots and raincoat on, caught a break in the clouds and took off. After all, he could hardly wait to start looking through what I call 'Rust.' Not me, though; I wasn't ready to brave all that wet stuff. We had agreed to meet at the food stand at 12:30. I stayed to read in the nice dry truck cab.

I read for a while then started thinking about my predicament. Here I was surrounded with rain pelting down! Everywhere I looked was rain and a sea of mud. I had taken a personal leave day from work and had looked forward to these two days for several weeks, for what? RAIN... MUD!

I continued to read and feel sorry for myself, then I started paying attention to what was happening outside the truck cab. A pickup had turned off the main road into the field where we were parked. It immediately got stuck. A tractor came and pulled it out. During the next half-hour, two more pickups zoomed down the embankment, immediately got stuck, and also got pulled out.

The people I watched, mostly men, picking their way carefully, slipping, and squishing their way through the field up to the main road into the swap meet. I forgot my dampened spirits and started giggling as I watched the unsuspecting entertainers.

I read, watched and giggled until eleven thirty-five. I caught a break in the clouds and stepped out of the truck. I hadn't reached the road when I caught myself praying, 'My, what a mess! I hope I don't fall down!'

I heard other prayers that day mostly from women. One woman's prayer was, 'Oh, this stuffs slippery; I 'bout went down!'

Finally, I reached the gate and paid my way in. I was expecting the usual pin, displaying an antique engine, to wear on my shirt. I was surprised when a reddish-orange hospital-like bracelet was handed to me instead of the pin. It was meant to wear on my wrist, but I stuffed mine down inside my purse.

I continued down the road into the grounds of the swap meet. My shoes were beginning to feel heavy with all the mud carried on them. I finally reached the area where the trailers were parkeda grassy area. I wiped my shoes off in the grass as I made my way around the various flea market stands.

I met Jerry at the food stand at 12:30. While we were eating lunch it was announced that everyone should wear the wrist band. I dug mine out of my deep purse and snapped it on my wrist. I saw others doing the same thing. The wrist band was very similar to what you wear when you are a patient in a hospital or a mental institution. I told Jerry that we all looked like we were patients in a mud insane asylum.

A lot of trucks and trailers were leaving. Some were being pulled out by tractors. All of this was creating more deep ruts in places where green grass once had been. The rain stopped after pouring all Thursday night and half of Friday. There was a promise of more rain for Friday night. 'I want to go home,' kept running through my thoughts. Jerry even said once that if it wasn't for the Maytag Meeting on Saturday, we'd go home. I wholeheartedly agreed with him.

We went back to the truck and had it pulled out of the field and took it on in to the swap meet grounds. We were lucky enough to park on a fairly high spot with grass. We stayed until after the Saturday Maytag Meeting. By the time we left, it was raining again. So many vehicles had been pulled out leaving Waukee a desolate sea of mud, I wasn't sorry to leave Waukee this year. I was glad to get out of what I thought of as the 'Asylum of Mud.' It didn't take me long to take off that wrist band.

God willing, even though the creeks rise, I will be ready to go to the Waukee Swap Meet in May 1997.