Monday, September 3, 2012

My Inner Hillbilly

Labor Day weekend is, for me, more than just a long weekend and a sign that the summer is winding down. It’s my chance, once a year, to live up to every stereotype big-city types have of rural Ohio and embrace my inner hillbilly – at Swapper’s Day in Johnstown, Ohio. And I do it with gusto.

Swapper’s Day is a flea market/gun swap/dog show and sale held at the Sportsman’s Club grounds just outside of Johnstown, and I’ve been going there for probably close to twenty years now. Usually there’s dozens of yard sales all along the state routes leading to the Sportsman’s Club, but with limited time (and when Janet goes, on limited patience) I usually forego those and head straight for the main event.

This year, since it was raining, we took the F-150, as four-wheel drive is a must in the muddy marsh that is the parking field.  Here’s what the event looks like as you are coming in the gates:

Well actually, not when we came in, but after the rain stopped and Janet had quit asking "Now, why are we here again?" Seriously, I can almost smell the chicken cooking on the barbeque, sweet corn on the grill, and a dozen other things that aren't even that good for you when I look at this picture, and thank heavens for that – I’m not sure what was in that cage that fella’s holding, but I doubt it wears aftershave.

What’s the most fun about Swapper’s Day is you have absolutely no idea what will be there until you walk around and see it for yourself. Seriously. It’s like a thousand people decided to empty out their garage to see if anyone wants to buy anything!

Best of all are the dog races. These races are different from any dog race you’ve ever seen: they aren’t on dry land. It’s a swimming race across a lake on the far end of the grounds.

And it was near the dog races, with the wail of a dozen or so coon dogs in the background, that I found this:

I’d like to say my keen eyes picked out this weathered Sheaffer case out from all that stuff scattered around on the guy’s table, but truth be told I’d found a cheap Autopoint pen (more on that one later) and asked if he had any other pens or pencils.

Inside are two mismatched but pretty nice pieces, especially for the price (fifteen bucks):

And inside the lid, a nice bit of Ohio history:

I don’t think Herron’s Jewelry is in business anymore. I did find where William Herron, from the Barberton, Ohio Rotary Club, attended the 1939 Rotary Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, but nothing about his business or what became of it. The pen is a plunger fil, military clip Sheaffer "Defender" (no white dot, nothing written on the clip; for more information, see "A Tale of Three Sheaffers – Or Maybe Five" on December 6), but as a pencil guy, it was that Sheaffer Tuckaway that got my attention.

Now here’s the thing about collecting Sheaffer Tuckaways: it’s nearly impossible to finish collecting Sheaffer Tuckaways. There were so many different varieties that every time it seems I run across one, it’s ever so slightly different from what I’ve got and I feel the need to keep yet another one. Just take a look at the variety of the bands:

Too bad they aren’t all in green, huh?

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