By Amber Rodgers
It was last summer in July or August, I can’t remember. My grandpa (I call him Dad) and I were on one of our many outings together. This time we happened to be strolling through the Lions’ Club flea market in Dublin.
The flea market was quite large. Rows of tents extended several yards in either direction, uphill, downhill, and clear across the field. Vendors sold everything from their deceased grandmother’s nightgown to suspicious, out-of-date Advil. Dad and I had browsed the entire flea market, and so far his only prizes were a new splitting mall handle and maybe a secondhand wrench or screwdriver. For me, it was a weathered twenty-five-cent postcard showcasing an aerial view of the Welch, West Virginia, courthouse.
We had, however, saved the best, most valuable prize for last. The midsummer heat had zapped most of our energy and our tummies were growing ever so empty and hollow.
As we approached the massive concession stand near the front gate, Dad turned to me and said, “I’m gettin’ kind of weak. How about a corn dog?” I, of course, had no argument to his testament. I opted to go to another, smaller concession stand to buy a large strawberry lemonade to split between us.
After purchasing the corn dogs we made our way to the stadium just across the way. Since the Dublin flea market takes place on the Dublin fairgrounds, it is equipped with a set of bleachers almost like a half football stadium. Instead of football, it is where proud teens and feisty children show off their young Angus bull calf or wrestle a squealing pig in hopes of winning a blue ribbon.
We chose our seats, a few rows of bleachers up from the ground so we could have an adequate view. After getting situated, I placed the napkins underneath the trap of corn dogs so the wind would not blow them away, and took my first bite. The flaky, golden-brown breading of the corn dog almost melted in my mouth. The meat was so juicy and flavorful I closed my eyes to really appreciate it. The slightly spice taste of ketchup encased my mouth like a pillowcase and added a tiny punch to the already bursting flavor. I knew Dad felt the same way, but, unlike me, he had mustard.
Reluctantly, we finished the corn dogs. We knew that they would be the last we would get to indulge in before next spring when the flea market came back for a weekend. We sat a while to take in the vendors, and beyond them, a huge grassy field, and beyond it, rolling hills.
Dad and I chatted with each other, wondering how long it took to cut corn from the field, and we sipped the strawberry lemonade until there was nothing left but ice.
It was a unanimous decision that it was time to head home. I took the scenery in one last time; my pale sunburned shoulders and freckled cheeks had finally eased after resting them in the shade. Silently, sadly, we gathered our purchases and carefully navigated the steps back down to the ground, back into the hot sunshine before heading home.
(Beyond the grade is an occasional column submitted by students in Phyllis Eastridge’s English 112 class at Patrick Henry Community College.)