I live in a tiny town with many older people. We have weekly farmers’ markets, summer drive in movies in the park, concerts on Main Street, craft festivals, county fairs, and all sorts of other cutesy activities throughout the year. I love being a part of the community and attending all the events but even more so, I love the people I meet when I am there.
I rarely find company to attend these amazing activities with me, mostly because there aren’t many young adults my age I know, but it serves me well because it gives me a chance to talk to people and make new friends. I particularly like talking to the older folk because they have the best stories to tell and really are just looking for someone to listen to them.
This past weekend I ran into an amazing couple that I will always remember. We had our annual arts and crafts fair on Main Street. With nearly 200 vendors selling anything and everything, it is the one of the best community events of the season. There were the usual trinkets and fair memorabilia along with the local business booths but there were also come very cool specialty tents too. After stopping at the honey bee keepers block and donating some money to the veterans, I walked into a small tent with a sorts of wooden ships, metal airplane models, and whittled cars. They were all model replicas of WWII transportation and they were hand crafted with such elegance and skill it was hard to not become enveloped in the artistry. With my nose stuck in a model of 1947 Cadillac carved out of wood, the cutest old lady in a pink garden hat came over to ask me if I needed any help. That was it, the start of a beautiful friendship.
The lady and I discussed everything from traveling to politics, WWII to her daughter. She told me how her half deaf husband fought in the war, how her brother, son, and husband made all the artifacts for the tent, and how she even spent $125 on renting the booth for the fair yesterday but only made $3 hoping to make some more today. She told me how she donates all her winter stuff to those who need it more than her and how her husband wanted to march with his fellow veterans when the government shut down the memorials, how the shutdown was stupid, and how traveling around the US can be a “pain in the ass” (her words exactly). She really was an amazing lady and in the twenty minutes I spent with, I felt I had known her for years, like she was my own great aunt or grandmother. Even her interaction with her half deaf husband who sat playing with a ball was probably the cutest most affectionate argument I had every witnessed. After all these years, even with each of their tendencies, they were chugging a long, together.
Standing there, I couldn’t help but feel sad though. Looking around there were endless rows of kitschy unoriginal crafts thronged by people who simply were missing the beauty of what was right in front of them. People walked by without even taking a glance at the craftsmanship, detailing, or horribly under priced labels on any of the items on display in the tent. I was appalled. While they spent $35 on bedazzled scantily clad shirts, no one seemed to notice the impeccably sculpted boats and 1950 model cars and planes priced for a mere $10! Aren’t the holidays around the corner as the media keeps pushing down our throats? Wouldn’t it be grand to give your grandson something he can keep forever made from a WWII veteran instead of that $20 pipe bow and arrow he probably will play with once before leaving to do the dog? My friend explained that they only reason they still traveled and even rented the tent was to have something to do, get out of the house and keep them going, it wasn’t as much about making money but something about it still broke my heart. I wanted to run down the streets and yell “LOOK! LOOK WHAT YOUR MISSING!!! I AM TAKING IT ALL HOME SINCE YOU WON’T!” (unfortunately, with a broken ankle, there would be no running anywhere). Instead I bought a $3 boat, thanked my friend and promised to be back as I headed down the street.
Maybe I’ll get a chance to see them again, maybe I won’t but I’ll always remember them and be thankful for the few moments I got to connect with an exceptional couple. I will always keep my eye out for the hard working artists, being one myself, and hope that originality and artistry don’t die out.
And if they do, at least I will always have my $3 boat: