Made in the USSR

Today was Flea Market Morning. It was pretty amazing. A bright, sunny, warm day, and anything you could ever hope to find – and more – piled on tarps, blankets, tables, and fold-out trailers.

Here are some of the things I saw (next time I’m going to make a list of odd items; I know I’ve forgotten many things already):

Lingerie, probably a few hundred pounds of it (consider how much one of those dainty scraps weighs), Soviet Brigade buttons and pins, personal ration books from the 60’s complete with stamps and signatures, guns (real and fake), lawnmowers, busts, paintings, pottery, all kinds of shoes and sandals and boots for all kinds of people, candy, fruit, vegetables (including cabbages on the ground right next to old shoes and VHS tapes), cassettes, cameras, eyeglasses, sunglasses, batteries, cell phones, typewriters and fax machines, costume jewelry, regular jewelry, leather coats, pleather coats, sweaters, jeans, rip-off Nike and Adidas apparel, medals for sporting events, ax heads, knives, sickles, shovels (what does it mean that those last four items were together on one blanket?), wallets, purses, bikes, watches, watch bands, cribs, carseats (one looked like it had survived a dozen wrecks), feminine hygiene items, the Little Prince in French, probably everything ever written by Dumas, car parts, hearing aid (just one), Happy Meal toys, CDs, rolls of tape, boxes of band-aids, a solder set, dishes, photographs, postcards, plastic motorcycles like the one I saw the tiny boy riding in the square (Sunny Sunday in Hungary post), seashells, old currency….

And I was told that there were only a fraction of the usual vendors present! All of the people selling things (with the exception of those selling new lingerie, new jeans and new sweaters) had a mishmash of any or all of the above. Used clothes were piled in colorful heaps on tarps for you to root through, with boxes or carefully placed lines of random household/machinery/office/? items placed strategically in front to catch your eye. I watched one man pick up a men’s white dress shirt. He had to pick a red thong off of it. He was very nonchalant about the process; he just pulled it off, tossed it aside, and continued examining the shirt.

I made a few purchases. Two of them are going to end up in some lucky people’s studios when I return to the US. Muwah ha ha! (That’s an evil laugh, in case you can’t tell.) I also bought a pocket watch. I stood there looking at it for a really long time, because I thought it was so neat and I really wanted to buy it, and I was trying to think of who I could give it to (thus justifying its purchase), but I couldn’t figure out who would want it. Presently, the man came over and took the back off, to show me the movements or whatever they’re called. When he did that, I decided to buy it for myself, since I was the one who wanted it, after all! I think it’s really pretty and I like the noise it makes. Nerd. I know. So I took out my little paper I’d prepared last night with some written phrases – “I don’t speak Hungarian,” “Excuse me,” to which I added a verbal “Karem” (Please), “How much is it?” “Can you write down the price?” – and showed it to him. He wrote down 5000 HUF. I then opened the paper (I’d folded it in half); inside I’d written the words for, “Can it be cheaper?” He smiled but shook his head, but I wrote down “4000?” under his 5000 anyway, and he started laughing and said, “OK, OK.” So I got it for a little less than $20US. It’s a wind-up one. When he was showing me the inside parts, he pointed out what he claimed were 4 rubies. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I like it either way.

pocket watch

My new pocket watch!

made in the USSR

Pocket watch and lists (yellow is currency conversion, white is bargaining phrases) Watch says,


We were hot and hungry so we stopped for a treat after getting back into Kecskemet.