Posted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 12:45 pm†† †Post subject: Saturday Flea Market in Gallup
Saturday Flea Market in Gallup
Navajo Spaceships, Star Mountain and Life
by Johnny Rustywire
In the morning we got up, my wife and all the kids. They were half asleep and their hair was all bushy, but as soon as I said we are going to town, they began to run around.
Where are my shoes? Where are my socks? Mom did you wash my pants, you know the ones I like? Cold cereal and milk is what we have for breakfast and away we go. My wife sits next to me and the kids are all loaded in the back of the truck. Our old ride heads down the road. Off the mountain we go and there we see Grace Jumbo and her son, Leonard walking. He is the youngest, I know him, but what he not so young anymore there is gray in his hair. I slow down and stop and they jump in the back.
His hair is going gray and I can't believe it. How old is he anyway? My wife says, I think 51. What? It wasnít so long ago, he used to run around all over. Canít be I think, but she is right, and his mother must be older than anyone I remember.
Some say she ran away from a nursing home in Farmington more than once. Her children put her there but she wouldn't stay. She said when her time comes she wants to be here in her own country they say, not anywhere else. She looks O.K., she looks fine, she sat down with her white hair in the back and away we went.
We went past the trading post and on down the road headed East, the air was warm and there was a nice breeze, the sun was coming up and it was going to be nice day. We went out on the flat lands below and the road and miles seemed to float by.
We got to the main road and turned right at Burnham Junction, past the Thriftway laundry and gas station. We headed South, past Newcomb and you could see the road begin to fill up with others headed the same way, many in old cars, some in new trucks and a few walking by the highway.
There we were by Sheepsprings, the old watering hole for animals a long time ago, now a small community. We travelled on and past Buffalo Springs; there wasnít a blade of grass in sight, and we soon passed it and you couldn't see buffalos anywhere.
Just before Tohatchi there is a turnoff to the east and if you follow it you will find a small pond. It is warm mineral water, nice and hot to sooth poor achey bones. My father when he used to run a mule team for the trader stopped and soaked for a little bit here on his three day journey to Gallup. That was in the 1930's along this same road. There was no one there today and soon we were in Tohatchi.
Tohatchi is one of the places growing, there are lot more houses and people, the road was looking like a long train of cars, all kinds, some blue, some white and old and new, trucks here and there and all headed the same way. We didnít know all of them but there were a few that looked like some we knew. There was old man Wilsonís truck, his daughter looked to be driving as we passed them by. The kids made a big deal of all waving their arms as we passed.
On we went passed Twin Lakes and the old JB Tanner store. Before paved roads this place used to be an oasis, a sure stop for all Navajo People. JB Tanner used to have giveaways on Saturday and you could win a turkey or a sheep and maybe some turquoise jewelry; that was a long time ago. Now the buildings were old and only a 7-ll store and cafť remain. The competition from Gallup and modern roads made all that just a memory.
We flowed into the traffic coming in from Window Rock to the west. You would think this was a city freeway on a Monday morning with everybody headed to town.
There just over the hill was Gallup and before we knew it we could see it. We just kept going along and turned off on the old, old road that used to be the main highway into town.
We were turning off to get to the flea market on the northside of old Gallup. After a little bit you could see all the cars, trucks and people there. It was like going to a big store or a mall at Christmas time. It was packed, cars parked all over. There aren't paved roads there, just dirt everywhere. The dirt roads crisscrossed every which way, we drove real slow and found a good spot.
People were parked selling Colorado green hay from lowboy trailers, some were selling coal and others a portable squeeze chute for cattle. We parked, started to get out and when the vegetable vendors came selling corn, chile, melons and jewelry. We put everything away and everybody poured out.
The one some say should be in a nursing home, Old Mrs. Jumbo sure moved fast, her skirt was flying and her legs sure could move as left her son behind, while he was still getting out of the truck. She disappeared into the crowd and was gone just like that. Herding sheep had made her legs young.
This was the Flea Market, a market of all things new and old, everything from stoves to tools, ropes, belts, toys and every kind of Indian jewelry and the things to make it with were there. There were people everywhere, the crowd was full of brown faces. "You kids donít wander off", I said, but they were already gone into the crowd.
We walked around from seller to seller, table to table looking at everything there. You see every kind of car and truck there selling everything and anything you would want. It is one of those times when you don't know what you need until you see it. You just have to find it.
The people selling were from everywhere, some from as far away as Kayenta and Chinle to those over on the East Side by Crownpoint. There were Zunis, Santo Domingos, Hopis, and a ton of Navajos, but more than us there were a few palefaces and Nakai ( Chicanos ).
Before long there we had made our way to the back of it all. I could smell the sweet taste of ribs, mutton and there was stew and fry bread cooking at the stew stands. Folding chairs and long wooden tables had a place for me and there I stood in line and ordered. We sat down and watched the crowd go by. The next thing I knew there was David Nez and his kids. We hadnít seen him for a while and we shook hands in the customary Navajo way, not too hard and not too soft, just right. He told me was looking for stew too, and I said go ahead and order some over there. We sat down and he came back there with his wife.
Nothing like spending a little time over a bowl of stew. The kids were just looking and waiting for theirs later at Furrís Cafeteria and then a movie, but for me this was the highlight of my day. I sat there and before me was a bowl of stew and some warm fry bread, it was a good day. We got things to do and other places to go today, but for now, tell me "Hosteen Nez", what has been going on with you.
You can order Johnny's book, Navajo Spaceshps; Star Mountain & Rez Memories through Cayon Press in Phoenix, Arizona - www.canyonpress.com
Joined: Jun 29, 2007 Posts: 4 Location: Phoenix, Az.
Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:55 am†† †Post subject:
What can I say!?... As real as being there. Great writing style! Only thing missing are the roasted chilies to go with that bowl of stew. _________________ If You Don't Stand For Something, You'll Fall For Anything. Unknown
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