Grandpa loved the Swap Meet. In truth he loved getting out of the house and being left alone for a while. Sometimes he took me along.
These special times together are the most vivid memories I have of Grandpa. He and I would leisurely peruse the wares at the local Drive-In/Sunday Swap Meet. Me in my orange vest reminiscent of a boater's life preserver and he in his Alpine hat-with-a-feather-on-the-side.
Each trip also meant that Grandpa would be buying me a toy. Of course that toy usually had to "do something", but that wasn't always the case. Apparently Grandpa had mellowed through the years.
I can vividly remember the Pinochio marionette, the Ostrich marionette and the tumbling Jester (akin to a slinky - it somersaulted down an incline). I still own the Jester, boxed away and buried in the garage like so much pirate booty. The marionettes have long since tangled beyond repair and faded into oblivion. But my most precious, my "Rosebud" was none of these. My favorite Swap Meet toy was a simple plastic animal figurine.
Not just any animal figurine mind you. This figurine was unique. It was a "Rabbagator." A mixed-up zoological wonder with the head of an alligator and the body of a rabbit. I was in three year old awe. What an awesome concept! There were many to choose from, the Catagator, the Chickow, the Ostraphant. No thank you, I'll take the Rabbagator please - no need to wrap it.
I loved that freakish creature for years, and still think fondly of my Franken-toy. (I no longer possess my original Rabagator, but thanks to the magic of eBay, I was able to replace him; along with three friends - more on them later.)
But most importantly, I still posess and cherish the memories. They are more precious than anything tangible.