I have a new happy place–and it’s called Brimfield. Last week my friend Beth and I set out upon the great American junking journey, driving from Raleigh, NC, all the way to Brimfield, Mass. in a rented white cargo van, which we quickly nicknamed Chester, for reasons that are too politically incorrect to go into. On the New York portion of the trip, Brunhilda, Beth’s GPS unit, routed us through the George Washington Bridge and Manhattan, which was unbelievably scary. But we made it–with Beth driving the whole way. Monday night we checked into our motel room in Auburn, Mass, and Tuesday, we got up at the butt-crack of dawn–4:30 a.m. to drive the 20 minutes to Brimfield, where we were delighted to survey a full five miles of farm fields full of antiques. The Brimfield Antiques Market is the largest outdoor market in the U.S. We started Tuesday at the daylight opening fields–Crystal Brook, Shelton’s, Quaker Acres. Beth’s first score was the most charming oil portrait of a little blonde girl in a pink dress. We named her Clarissa, and she was really a head-turner. I can’t even remember now what my first purchase was, but I quickly purchased a collapsible rolling cart to hold all my treasures as I trolled the fields for goodies for me–and for Maisie’s Daisy, my antique booth down at Seaside Sisters on Tybee Island. The Brimfield publicists claim that 5,000 dealers sell at this market, and I can believe it–along with about 10,000 shoppers who come from all over the world. We saw great antiques from New England, the Southwest, Europe, everywhere really, and lots of stuff we don’t normally see on our junking forays around the South. As I told a friend, Brimfield is my Disneyworld, my Six Flags, my Coney Island. My favorite purchase was the hot pink screen door that I hope to someday use for my virtual beach house. I also bought five pairs of shutters with great blue-green paint and crescent moon cut-outs also destined for my someday beach house. I bought two great blue chenille bedspreads, a wonderful yellow grandmother’s flower patch quilt in a sunny yellow, a sweet little pine dresser with mirror, a forties mirror that has a reverse-painted flamingo, a pair of blue-green lamps, a folk-art children’s toy Noah’s ark with hand-painted animals, an Ohio Art child’s tin litho sand shovel (I collect these tin litho sandpails and watering cans), a yellow McCoy flowerpot, a cool barkcloth dust-ruffle that’s destined to become cushions for a rattan armchair, a sweet child’s chair in beachy turquoise, and yes, to Beth’s chagrin, a six-foot wooden folk-art Uncle Sam whose moveable arms once held an American flag at the entrance to a Maine hunting camp. We slowed down our assault only for potty breaks–yes, I actually used a porta-potty–and lunch. Brimfield has a wonderful food court, which is situated in the courtyard of a 50s-era motel, called, fittingly, New England Motel.
Beth opted for lobster rolls the first two days, and a full 2-lb. lobster on our last day. I sampled sausage and peppers, and a fantastic sandwich called a Pilgrim Roll–fresh roasted turkey breast with cranberry sauce on a yeast roll. We also tried out the apple crisp with ice cream and hand-cut french fries. Excellent junking food. At the end of our first full day we were just barely able to drag ourselves back to the motel, hit a chain restaurant for dinner, shower, and then to bed by 9 pm. Wednesday we were back in line for the 6 am opening of the New England Motel field, followed by Heart-of-The-Mart at 9am, and Hertan’s at noon. I think New England Motel was my favorite field, but really, I think I found treasures in each field I shopped. One of the best things about Brimfield is the people. The dealers were unfailingly nice, willing to bargain, and just plain cool. We chatted with strangers over lunch and in lines, and everybody was really lovely. The weather was unbelievable most of the time, morning temps were in the low ’50s, so we bundled up in jackets and shawls, but by the afternoon, it had gotten sunny and warm–in the low ’80s. We did have a little rain on our last morning, Thursday, but that lasted for only about 20 minutes. My final tally of purchases numbered around 46, and I spent just about what I’d budgeted for the visit. On Thursday, after a final lunch at New England Motel, we reluctantly headed Chester South for the trip home. and yes, we’re already planning our next Brimfield excursion. Shows are also held in July, but we’ve decided that will be too hot. Maybe September, if I finish my new book on time.