Friday, August 18, 2006

Rogers, Ohio.- A Free (and open) Market.

Today I woke up earlier than I have all summer, in order to go to Roger's Market and Auction in Roger's, Ohio. What an incredible cavalcade of low-rent rural-living junk! It is hard to believe this slice of pseudo-Appalachia is a mere 65 miles from Pittsburgh. Really and truly... for those of you that haven't been to the confluence of the three-rivers- Pittsburgh does have some cosmopolitan culture (I'm not kidding). Of course, Pittsburgh is a bit less than 60 miles from the West Virginia border too... so never mind.

Anyway, the reader may wonder.... "Why would David get up at an ungodly hour, only to trek to another state for a look at a region's junk drawer?" That's a fair question. I had heard rumors of a giant flea market/antique center/market in daytrip driving range. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I had in mind that if I scavenged a bit I could come up with something interesting to waste a few bucks on. Anyone who has gone to, and enjoyed, a huge open-air market knows what I an talking about. I scouted the web page (linked above) and it seemed promising. More than 5 miles of outside vendor spaces? Hmmmm. Over 1600 vendors? Wow. No admission charge? Right. Free Parking? No way?! Bring comfortable walking shoes... Alrite! I sure will!

Mapquest took me on some smaller backroads, with very light traffic... and for a moment I thought that maybe the rumors and the website were part of some elaborate trap to lure unexpecting urbanites to their doom at the hands of these" salt-of-the-earth" country folk (a la 2000 Maniacs). It seemed particularly foreboding that my cell phone (and that of the friend I brought alone, "just in case") was not working. But the market does exist. For I am here now telling you about it.

Indeed I had no difficulty finding convenient parking, despite the presence of 1000's of cars. There are, in fact, over 70 acres of grasslot where you are free to park your pickup. My friend and I took a look, and decided to meet at the entrance gate four hours hence. Free to wander without considerations or concern, I started walking among the seemingly unending tables of unwanted, but commodifiable items.

I took advantage of one of the many fair-type grab joints to allay my hunger. I braved crowds of unaware zombies, weaving in and out of them with a purpose. It was frustrating, but I had a schedule to keep. I was determined. Three hours later I had become one of the horde. There's just no way to maintain any acuity after a significant amount of time spent overstimulated in this- the bottom rung of our commercialist society. Just so many choices... should I buy the Rottweiller puppy, or the camouflage boonie hat? The italian charm bracelet or the pre-viewed videos? The genuine and alive baby pot-bellied pig, or the air rifle? The chili dog, or the kettle corn? Faced with these crucial decisions, time and time after time, one begins to enter a zone of existence in between free locomotion and confused inertia.

It was time to eat again. Rogers has a restaurant right on market grounds! It even includes the requisite ten-foot long American flag tacked to the wall to remind you that you haven't left the country, only to find yourself lost in some unrecognizable foreign wonderland. (It is actually terribly unnecessary.... this place could be the national center in Disney's Epcot USA. It's completely representative of what is "special" about America.) I got in the surprisingly efficient line and ordered up some classic American fast-food fare... and a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie. I ate exhaustedly but intently. It did the trick. I dragged my ass out again to look at the indoor markets.

I spent about five hours total at Roger's, and I feel like I got a good indication of what was available. I had thoughtfully brought along extra spare cash. I guess you are wondering what I came home with... insert drum roll... wait for it... one (1) used DVD. That's right. Honestly. Despite the large quantity of goods, unless you are a compulsive shopper, or go for something specific... you just might come home unburdened by stuff. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, but I've had much better luck with similar markets closer to the city. But I wasn't disappointed.

A visit to Roger's is like a journey to an America that exists outside of my own. (It's the one, evidently, that picks the president.) But besides that, it is a true cultural experience. A reflection refracted through a multitude of objects... considered through the changing hands of subsequent owners. What better way to view the beating heart of America?

1 Comments:

Anonymous jefg said...

Enjoyed your review of the market.
The story begets the obvious question...just what DVD did you buy?

I remember driving through Kentucky many years back and noticing billboards for what was the largest garage sale in the country. It stretched along a highway cutting across the state for hundreds of miles (at least by my recollection). Now, that's not something you just wake up on a Saturday morning at 10ish and decide to spend a couple of hours passing time. For us, it was either do a sidetrip and accunulate some more clutter, or continue heading to the Music City by way of Mammouth Cave.

9:44 AM  

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