Mason County News
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009 • Posted February 17, 2009

A Community Transformed…

Column #303 for Release Saturday, February 14, 2009

About 80% of the time, it is a community of some 5,000 souls. However, it becomes a “city” on each month’s “First Monday” weekend when as many as 300,000 visitors flock to Canton, TX, for its signature event. (Actually, the “Monday” designation no longer fits. “First Monday” now operates during the last Thursday through Sunday block of each month.)

The unique trade days/swap meet/flea market is billed as the largest such event in the world in continuous operation. It dates back to Confederacy days in the 1850’s, when stray horses were auctioned. Later, hunting dogs were added, and for the past half-century or so, thousands of items whet the interest of curious shoppers and bargain hunters.

My wife and I were in Canton recently on a “non-event” weekend. She insisted that we stop on Main Street to snap a photo—one showing eight empty parking spaces in a row! She wanted photographic proof for her friends who visit the community only for the big event….

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She was breathless when she made her first purchase there several years ago.

What a steal, picking up the hatchet that George Washington used to chop down the cherry tree.

The hatchet has required three new heads and four new handles, however….

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Another time, she took in all four days. While she was away, I spent all waking hours on housecleaning and fix-up projects. I went well beyond “spring cleaning,” expecting her to shower me with compliments upon her return.

She was stone-faced and silent as I took her into every room. She never said a word.

At tour’s end, I asked her if there was anything she would like to say. “Yes,” she responded, “It’s a thankless job, isn’t it?”…

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Every year, several prominent names are “shoo-ins” for Shakespeare’s list of “Oh what fools we mortals be.” Add the name of Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, whose image now is sullied with his admission of marijuana use.

His endorsement list took a big “hit” when Kellogg’s decided not to renew their contract with him when the current agreement ends this month.

I guess they figured “snap, crackle and pop” can stand up well without adding “puff.”…

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Our 28-month old grandson, Kedren Penney, has started verbalizing sentence fragments, but a half-dozen of them delight his parents and take restaurant personnel aback during food orders.

“No milk/soy/egg for me,” he always warns.

Mom and Dad figure it never hurts to reinforce avoidance of foods that could set off serious food allergy repercussions….

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Another grandson, four-year-old Jonah McDaniel, “outran” his dad in a footrace after Sunday school. He bragged that he “gets the trophy.”

Ryan, his dad, asked about the size of the trophy.

“It reaches from God’s ceiling down to our floor,” Jonah informed….

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One of my favorite people is Grant Teaff, another man who keeps close tabs on the goings-on of his grandchildren. A vignette he chuckles about often centers on a “teaching moment” for his daughter, Layne Pittman, whose sons, Jake and Eli, were ages 5 and 3 at the time. Teaff labels Jake as a “lawyer type, very bright, meticulous and assertive.” He describes Eli as a “middle linebacker, a tough-and-tumble, aggressive type who asks questions later.”

During breakfast preparation, the two youngsters waged a serious argument about who got the first pancake. Layne seized the moment, explaining that the argument was pointless, since each would get a pancake at about the same time. “Besides, you should remember what Jesus would say: ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’”

As she served their plates, she heard Jake whisper, “OK, Eli, today you be Jesus.”…

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Finally, in Tyler, Texas, there’s a clever sign on a re-sale shop that features children’s clothing. It’s called “Hand-Me-Ups.”

Undoubtedly, it is the “up” reference that catches attention.

I was befuddled for a minute or so. Then it dawned on me that the “ups and downs” of the matter depend on the size of the beholder….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Send inquiries or comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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