I think most of us have heard the expression, “First Monday Trade Days.” At one time, most of the county seats in Texas had a “First Monday.” So, how did they start?
Let’s consider Weatherford’s First Monday Trade Days. According to their Web site: “This is one of the oldest in Texas, dating from the turn of the 20th century. At that time Parker County held court in Weatherford every first Monday of the month, which usually drew large crowds.
“Some began bringing stray livestock from around the county to sell. After a while others began bringing produce and other items to sell. Soon a local merchant decided to give the market a name, calling it the ‘Stray Day Sale,’ later changing it to ‘First Monday Stray Days,’ and finally to ‘First Monday Trade Days.’”
Since a lot of today’s farmers are part time, working other jobs Monday through Friday, the trade days are now Friday, Saturday and Sunday before the first Monday.
Yet it is still called “First Monday Trade Days.”
The Weatherford Trade Days grounds are on Santa Fe Drive. Off Interstate 20 take exit No. 409 and drive north. The grounds will be on the right.
There you can shop for unique gifts, crafts, antiques and junk. As they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Those interested in hand tools can find anything there that has been made in the past hundred years, from monkey wrenches to buggy wrenches.
I visited the trade days the first Saturday in April and met some interesting people. My first encounter was with Bill Grisham of Sunshine Rose Porch and Patio, which deals in custom-made Mesquite, Cedar and Pine furniture. One thing that caught my eye was what I would call a “modern antique.” This consisted of a dresser, complete with mirror, made of cedar and set upon the base of an old treadle Singer sewing machine. Remember those?
Someone else was promoting a “Truck Load” sale of carpets and flags.
One display was promoting the National Vietnam War Museum in Mineral Wells. There I met Jim Messinger, who is the treasurer and on the board of directors of the museum. Messinger told me they have now completed the third memorial garden at the site and have started work on the 2,500-square foot temporary visitor center to be opened later this year. He also said that all the wildflowers are now coming into bloom with a lot of bluebonnets. A drive by there would make for good wildflower viewing. The museum, with a Huey helicopter mounted high on a pole beside the road, is one mile east of the Mineral Wells city limit on Texas 180.
Skip Elliott was set up with western saddles, tack and western art. Elliott is a Cleburne native now living in Wichita Falls.
While visiting with one dealer who had a large display of pocket knives, I asked how the business had been for the day. He replied, “Slow. I’ve sharpened more knives than I’ve sold.”
There was an old house across the street from the main market area with tables set up all over the yard with all kinds of old “junk.” One table was covered with white porcelain and glass door knobs. Back in the old days on the farm we used the white porcelain door knobs to go in the hen nests in the hen house as “nest eggs.”
After making the round of all the vendors, looking over all the crafts, artwork, old and new tools and food vendors, I realized there was something missing.
When I sold knickknacks there in the ’60s and early ’70s, a section was set up devoted entirely to livestock. There you could find just about anything from the farm including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, chickens and ducks. Sometimes you might even find a good coon hound to buy. Today, there is no livestock to be found.
After checking with the trade days office, I received a copy of their handout on policies and procedures. Under general policies for all vendors, Item 3, Section D reads: “Only animals allowed on the FMTD grounds are pets. Pets must remain on a leash at all times. Animals are not to be sold or traded.”
Item 3, Section H also caught my attention. “All Vendors must have a current TAX ID number issued by the State of Texas.”
So, this has evolved from an original farmers market that sold livestock and produce to a flea market today filled with licensed dealers.
Well, as the old country song goes, “Time changes everything.”
Now I’m wondering. With the state getting desperate for more money, will the city require me to get a state Tax ID number before they will let me have a garage sale permit so the state can collect taxes on what I sell?
John Watson is a Cleburne resident who can be reached at email@example.com.