Wentzville Redux – With Hobo Jack

Luckily, I had not one but two companions for the early morning trek to Wentzville’s Flea Market. It looked like a storm might ruin our quest for treasure (dark clouds definitely killed our hopes for a beautiful sunrise) but, miraculously, the system moved onward without so much as a raindrop.

The biggest thrill of the day was talking with Backwater “Hobo” Jack, a Litchfield, Ill., folksinger with a new claim to fame. Nearly 80 years old, he was featured on a segment of American Pickers last season, wherein he sold some old motorcycle parts for big bucks. He told us he lives without electricity … but hey, he’s got his music. Jack plays a sweet guitar with a smooth harmonica and chooses tunes from a tattered old song book. He sells CDs (four different ones) for “the same as everyone else gets – $15 each.” He might be a hobo, but I suspect he’s been driving hard bargains for a long time.

Dealers were out in force, but when the number of booths climbs, so does the amount of new shtuff like socks and cheap sunglasses. We breezed past a lot of them, stopping to dig into a few good trays of jewelry, a nifty box of old postcards and valentines, and a stash of old medals and tokens. I picked up a handful of vintage dog tags (literally, complete with rabies vaccination certifications … Sparky is one of my new “dogs”) and some vintage school rewards for reading and math. Not sure what I’ll do with them, but impossible to pass up.

Megan hunted for a vintage, mountable bottle opener (saw one featuring Orange Crush, but it was too rusty and boring). While we sifted through things on “Mike’s” table, Megan picked up a holy water vessel and at the same time started to ask Mike whether he had a bottle opener, but this is how the convo wound up:
Megan: Hey, do you have a …
Mike: a blessing? Sure, lots! but you’ll have to do some serious confessing first.

(Maybe you had to be there. Or maybe it was just too early.)

With the dueling aromas of kettle corn and grilled brats wafting around us, we kept moving to beat the crowd. Tracy found a gumball rake (not exactly on everyone’s antiquing wish list, but whatever …). Megan found the most treasures, including a great old wooden box marked “fancy” (fancy what? we wondered) and a couple of neat tins. Along with a few jewelry doodads, I bought more plants (how long will it take to plant them this time?).

I have yet to be disappointed by anything but the weather on an outing to Wentzville, and like most of the vendors we dealt with, even the weather gave us a break today.

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