Almost Run Over By A Lawn Mower

A Wife's Introduction to the ''Swap Meet'' Circuit

| March/April 1998

13012N, Mill Road Spokane, Washington 99218

For several years my husband has dreamed of our attending some of the larger swap meets as soon as we 'were 'free' from our responsibilities as community college instructors. His enthusiasm for attending these swap meets was fueled by the numerous smaller ones we were able to attend on weekends and in the summers, so when the time arrived last June for us to begin a new phase of our lives called 'retirement,' the first thing he said to me was 'next May we will be able to attend the Portland, Indiana, and the Waukee, Iowa, swap meets!! Won't that just be great?' (Oh, sure!)

When we found that we could couple these two swap meets with an antique gas engine auction in Minnesota, he was in seventh heaven.

We loaded the camper, hooked up the horse trailer (because it's the only trailer we have, and how would we get all our purchases home without a trailer, honey?), withdrew from our savings account for all those purchases, and took off.

The auction in Minnesota was held on a beautiful farm; everything was clean and we were provided with a nice pasture in which to camp overnight. The next morning, as the auction progressed, I noticed that No. 112 (my husband's number) was being called out frequently, and by the end of the afternoon when we were loading' our 'things,' we noticed that our trailer was approaching three-quarters full, and we still had two swap meets to go! What a great time we were having already!!

We greeted relatives and did a little sightseeing as we journeyed to the first swap meet at Portland, Indiana. We arrived and were anxious to start 'swap -ping.' Actually, we were only buying, not swapping, but you get the idea. As my husband located an appropriate place for the camper for the evening, I checked out the bathroom situation very nice, clean, flushers and plenty of stalls. I'm impressed!! Maybe this won't be so bad after all.

When I got back to the camper, my excited husband was ready to roll. We started down the first aisle of rusted, broken, bent, unpainted treasures. As I began to look and wonder just what made this stuff so wonderful, I could hear my husband shouting at me for some reason, but something behind me was making so much racket that I couldn't hear him. All of a sudden, he reached out and grabbed my arm and yanked me onto the grass, just as a Cub Cadet riding lawn mower rolled by, with its driver gawking in the opposite direction. Man! I was almost run over by a lawn mower! I can just hear my husband trying to explain it later on the phone to our kids and grandkids! 'Well, kids, Grandma died of a gaping lawn-mower wound while enjoying herself at the swap meet. She was having a great time, though, right up to the very last. What a way to go!'

But back to my story. I wondered why on earth that guy was driving that thing down the middle of the path? Then, as I looked around, I saw all manner of noisy, slow-moving 'vehicles' that turned out to be lawn mowers, golf carts, high-boy tractors, homemade three-wheelers, etc. all driven by perfectly healthy-looking men. Why weren't they walking like the rest of us? Didn't they need the exercise just as much as we did? I then realized that they all had the same look on their faces the look of an eight-year-old boy who had finally found a reason to play all day with his prized toy. When my husband looked a little longingly at the guys playing, I reminded him how much better it was to be 'heart healthy' and walk around the grounds. I even told him that I recognized that it would be better for me, too. However, I had no intention of walking around all day; I had a good novel in the camper. As the day progressed, the purchases mounted up, and my husband's happiness could not be measured. He had lots of help from fellow 'swappers' when he was loading his buys into the horse trailer, mostly in the form of 'You paid HOW much for that? I bought one last year for only half that much.'

We took off for our next destination Waukee, Iowa. However, I had no fear of almost being run over by anything there because their advertisement in the April issue of Gas Engine Magazine clearly stated 'Small motorized vehicles limited to handicap only (enforced 5 MPH speed limit).' People would be walking on the grounds there!! We arrived on the Wednesday before the first official day of the swap meet, which was Friday. Everything was under way already, and most of the 'good deals' were happening then. We found a campsite, and I immediately checked out the bathroom situation again not so impressive. Pit toilets, but running water to wash your hands. I never did quite figure that one out.

We started down the endless aisles of pieces, parts, whole 'things' and miscellaneous merchandise, some of which had attached notes that read 'does anyone know what this is?' We had walked only a few hundred yards, when we were suddenly honked at by a high-boy tractor carrying a man and his wife, both of whom looked completely able-bodied to me! As we looked around we could see that there were all sorts of motorized vehicles, carrying perfectly healthy people to and from places on the grounds, driving at speeds much more than 5 MPH; the only conclusion I could draw was that they had not read the same advertisement that I had. They did, however, each have a number stuck to the vehicle somewhere, so if you were accosted by one, you could at least 'turn in their number' to someone. (It was never clear who that might be, however.)

By Friday, the official start of the swap meet, we were all done with our 'swapping' by noon and headed back to Washington. We were tired from all our walking, but convinced we were better off because of it that is until we stopped at the first rest stop. After sitting for several hours in the truck, we could barely move because of the cramps in our calves and thighs due to all that healthy walking. For two-thousand miles, we paid for our healthy lifestyle each time we stopped. It took several minutes each time to convince our legs to 'start.'

All in all, we had a wonderful time on our first retirement trip and didn't sustain any permanent injuries, either from motorized vehicles on the swap meet grounds or from all our walking. I must close, but what's that noise I hear through the window? Oh, yes, it's my husband starting up his Cub Cadet riding lawnmower. . . I wonder, if he removed that cutting blade and put an extra seat on back if we could. . . Oh, no, after writing this story, I better stick to walking!


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