Thoughts on Canton

Working on the program for the Antique Elegance show.

Thoughts on Canton.


So dad always, mom many times, the rest of the family on occasion, went to Canton. Oh there were few months, very few, in a 20 year span where on that weekend before the first Monday of the month, rain or shine, hell or highwater, that the Stearnsy Bears didn't go to Texas.

And sometimes there was big load of grapevine wreathes roped to the top of the van, anybody remember when those were big. But what it always was, was bears.

Once a month for 20 years basically. We wouldn't be talking about Stearnsy Bears today without Canton and all the people who bought bears there from mom and dad.

First Monday Trade Days. Sold so many bears on the corner by the creek. Between Don and Joe, the cookie jar man among other assorted flea market outlaws. We fit right in. It was kinda the old west of big flea markets. Very few Rvs, only the real, rich folks had RV, less structures, a lot of poor man's camping, sleeping in the car or the back of the van, cold showers once in while.

Oh, and how about this for dating something. You know, a distinct break between then and now. People stood in line to use the payphones. Nobody had cell phone in the early days. You could stand in line for 30 minutes on Saturday night.

There is a also a lot of weather extremes in East Texas. Snow, ice was worse, sometimes you had to wade the water, the wind was a real hassle, it gets hot in East Texas. But you could plug in a box fan to move the air.

But people came anyway to buy and sell. Vicky and I bought a cute, Cocker Spaniel, puppy in dog alley one time and we named him Teddy. He was crazy his whole life. And he was one of those dogs that didn't like you looking at him the wrong way, twitchy.

And for us, they came to see some new bears. Mom was always doing something new and Dad was telling stories about them.

It was living on the creative edge. I think it was a God-given talent for them. I personally think it shows the Good Lord's sense of humor, the way it all turned, and I like to think that Jesus laughs at not just with me but he laughs at me as well. Life can keep you humble.

But there were a ton good times had in that spot. There were a lot people who went away carrying bears and smiling. It wasn't just buying a teddy bear, it was an experience. You had to put some effort into it. And even though we haven't been to Canton since 2002, it all still feels like family. A lot of the evidence is still making people smile this very day. And we thankful for it because it is big part of the reason we are still making bears today.