I took in the sites, sounds and flavors of the Warrensburg, NY Garage Sale this past Saturday. It is billed as the worlds biggest and if there is a bigger one, I don’t want to know about it. It was just about all I could take.
After six hours of poking around I felt my legs detach from my body and take themselves to the hospital. They told me to go fuck myself and find my own way home.
Legend has it that the little town attracts between 50,000 and 100,000 people to the annual event. I’ve been to the town in the summer and I’ve been there in the winter and there was never more than a few cars on the street. This weekend it was jam packed.
Warrensburg is a small Upstate New York Town. It’s about halfway between Albany and Montreal and unless you had a reason to go there, you’d never get off the highway. It’s a town that time forgot and no one who lives there seems to care one way or another.
Most of the local economy feeds off of the vacation village of Lake George which is 15 miles south of Warrensburg. There must be enough work to keep the locals from turning their front yards into garbage piles because it’s not a dump of a town like most Upstate New York towns are. I didn’t see the abject poverty of places like Troy and Leeds. It’s not East Hampton, but it has a certain rustic charm.
I got the word the night before from the kid at the local gas station that if I wanted a place to park, I’d have to get into town before 9:00 am. I got there at 8:20 just to be sure. It was a crisp autumn morning in the Adirondacks. Main Street and several intersecting streets and yards had been converted into open air markets.
There were little canopy tents set up as far as I could see. This was no amateur event. This was a professional garage saler’s dream come true. There were the crafts people who follow these events around all summer and there were the area locals looking to make a few bucks. There were enough food vendors to feed the Italian Army. Sausage and Pepper sandwiches we the most popular menu item, although you could pick your poison as long as you like your poison grilled or deep fried.
Not long after I arrived, bought a cup of coffee and started perusing a few stands, I happened across a both selling American Indian themed art work. The man working the booth saw that I had a wind breaker with an Indian head on it. He made a comment that he liked the design and then offered that his Indian name was Chief How High Can I Get.
I said I wish I was high right now, it being before 9:00 am and a giant garage sale and all. He told me that the woman running the both next to his was as high as Jeff Spicoli on prom night. She looked it too. A classic wake and bake grin. She was grooving to the silent muse.
Joe and I hit it off and started talking about marijuana, and the economy. Certainly those are two of my favorite subjects in no particular order.
We talked about the upcoming California election and the marijuana legalization proposition. Joe said he thought it would pass. I wasn’t counting my chickens. Joe looked like he could have been following the Dead around and selling veggie sandwiches in the 1970’s. I’m guessing he was about 55 and if he wanted to he could find work as a department store Santa with no trouble. I looked like I could have been doing tax returns the day before. Khaki’s, a baseball hat and a blue wind breaker, not the official uniform of pot heads, but in spite of my Republican clothes, I don’t give off a buttoned down vibe.
We were kindred spirits nonetheless and despite our different choices in attire we hit it off as only two people talking about pot on an Adirondack morning could do.
Joe said he liked the black market economy for pot. I agreed, because in my opinion it is a true free market, free of the forces of inflation and taxation. The price of pot has remained stable for going on 20 years. This is in spite of the fact that the quality has been increasing steadily. You can’t say that about much in the legitimate economy.
Joe told me he knew of people who grew a few plants here and there in order to pay their property taxes. I thought that was ironic because the property taxes were used to pay for the police force.
He told me how shitty the economy me was. I agreed and had actually heard the same thing from the coffee guy not 10 minutes before and Again from several people throughout the day.
And then a funny thing happened. Joe told me to follow him to his van which was parked a few yards behind his canopy. He wanted to show me something. We got to his van which looked decent enough, a bit cluttered, but with none of the vibe of a serial killer luring his victim.
He opened the unlocked door, reached up on the dashboard and grabbed a ramekin bowl with some home grown weed in it. He gave me a pinch and said he wished he could give me some more but that was all he could spare. He told me to go to the Rite Aid and buy some papers.
I thanked him profusely; it had been years since someone had laid a bud on me. It had been so long in fact that I forgot that kind of thing happened. Thanks Joe for renewing my faith in the road, and for getting me higher than I have been in a long, long time. And I want to wish you luck working the craft fairs and gatherings in this God awful economy.
He and the hundreds of others working at the garage sale were keeping the ball rolling. They are true free marketers, real merchants. They are not willing to wait for Walmart to hire them. Health insurance be damned.
I tried to imagine what market day was like hundreds of years ago. I imagined it was a bit more chaotic, dirty and dangerous. I wondered where all the people urinated. I cursed and blessed the invention of the port o john and ducked inside one to roll a bone.
I didn’t buy much junk or treasures, my storage space is full to the rafters, but I did manage to eat my way up and down Main Street. I guess I had the muchies.<-->