Monday, March 26, 2012

Tourists vs. Ovenware

My 730 days here have taught me a little about the seasonal fluctuation in this beachtown paradise. Someone asked the other day what time of year is best in this sandy spot on the eastern seaboard. The answer was easy; for some of us non-commercial residents, the off-season weeks from mid-September to late December are the most comfortable in a town that earns its keep off the tourist trade. Those are the days when this setting comes closest to what it was before development arrived. Apart from the ocean and its fringe of beach, clearly there is little that has truly escaped the developer’s reshaping, and signs of ‘commerce’ are prominent in every quarter, but between the ninth and twelfth months of the year a good part of that business is asleep. It becomes a quiet and sleepy little town with storybook weather and long stretches of empty beach.


But nothing of that in late March, when a breakout of beach-starved tourists takes advantage of spring break to shatter the calm and desecrate the near holiness of white sand beaches. Things get rowdy about now and a big part part of what is good about living on the beach turns sour. Hard especially in the case of an oceanfront location because that means all the shouting, the raucous play and midnight revels happen in window-rattling proximity. Sometimes you have to get away.


While the quiet was still in place early Sunday morning I considered the soon-to-come awakening of tourist hordes celebrating spring break, and realized escape was the best alternative. Thank God for Sunday flea markets. It had been a while since my last visit to the big flea market on US 1 halfway between here and Daytona, so that was the perfect escape. Hoping to get away while things were still quiet, I jumped in the car un-showered and unshaven, pointing the wheels toward the treasures of secondhand heaven.


Finding a parking place all too easily, I wondered, were all the flea market dealers at the beach? Early enough to expect the lanes and aisles to be packed with junk-filled tables, the empty spots were something of a surprise. It didn’t take too long to realize that a couple of my favorite dealers were taking a holiday. Sure enough, many of the familiar vendors were there with their old records, broken watches, Elvis memorabilia, chipped dinnerware, and Danielle Steele paperbacks, but there were lots of empty spaces.


Making the rounds a few times I managed to spend five dollars on a couple of things I would have paid more for. Wish that I knew a little more about what I bought, but the pieces themselves offer few hints and the people I bought them from clearly had little notion. The first find was a white stoneware dish made in Japan and marked ‘OVENPROOF’ on the bottom. At first glance I thought it might be an oversized soap dish (long without soap and filthy), but a look at the underside quickly proved that wrong, since soap dishes are rarely ovenproof. I can only guess that it is a piece of kitchenware made in Japan sometime around the 1950s or 60s. Whatever its history, it is a handsome little piece and one that thrills my junk-shopper’s soul.


On a second turn around the tables another white something caught my eye, a container of sorts that could be used for almost anything. My immediate thought was that it would be a handsome cover for a potted plant, something you might sit the plastic pot inside of. But then it could just as well serve as a soup tureen or a container for boiled corn on the cob. Whatever its original purpose, it is interesting for its odd marking of ‘Haberdashery’ and the illegible shield-like marking under the last letters of Haberdashery. Another curious feature is the way the piece was made. It’s clear in looking at it that the two halves were crafted and then joined before being fired. First time for me to see that particular technique. (The little green bowl in the photo is one of my own making during the Japan days.)


By the time I got home the Sunday rave was in full swing.

3 comments:

  1. Two nice additions for whatever purpose: a place for keys, soap, stirring spoons while cooking. Placed anywhere in the kitchen they are so much more appealing than the throwaway plastic containers so much in evidence in most kitchens.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America