I started early as a junker. I didn't realize it at the time, of course, but I was on my way by the time I was in high school. I may have only been hunting comic books at the time, but I was hunting something. Everybody's gotta start somewhere, you know.
There's an awesome rural tradition that's particularly prevalent in the South, the local flea market. At one point in time, most small towns had them. Many still do today. Not to mention all those "wide spots on the side of the road" kinds of flea markets.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a town that had a flea market every Wednesday. It was down at the stockyards, so we called our junking trips "going to the stockyards." When I was younger, I went with my mom, who went from time to time. When I was a teen, I would walk down there with my best friend. We went every week.
It's pretty common for these kinds of flea markets to be associated with stock yards or produce markets. A lot of them grew out of the idea of the "market day" when everybody brought their produce or livestock in to sell. These days also became a day for peddlers to hark their wares, and junking was born!
Back in the day, my main objective was comic books. The flea market was a way to fill in holes in my collection and also find older issues without spending a lot of money. When you're into comics, you have to always remember to have some money on hand to get the newest arrivals each week. That means you can't spend too much on older stuff, especially if you're a kid.
There was one guy that we used to buy from just about every week. I remember going to another flea market with my dad and seeing him there. It was kind of shocking to see him at "some other" flea market. It was my first exposure to the idea that there were people who would go from place to place selling their stuff.
One week, this guy was selling out his stock. All the comics were ten cents each! I was supposed to meet my dad there, but I got there first. I ended up borrowing money from my grandfather (who conveniently wandered by) until my dad got there. That was a close one!
That flea market holds a lot of good memories for me. It's probably where I cut my teeth as a junker, even though I didn't realize it at the time. I'm glad to say that it is still there, every Wednesday, just like always. Not even the presence of a Super Wal-Mart nearby has put a stop to it.