Van, Texas Dodges a Bullit

Our fair city, Van Texas, dodged a bullet last night.Tornados ripped thru Van Zandt County, wreaking havoc as they dipped and receded back into the sky.

The warning sirens went off around 5:30 p.m while the tv weathermen were telling all in Van to take shelter immediately. It was still light outside, so what did I do? I went out to look to see if I needed to rush into the bathroom where we had made a little nest.

Mother Natures fury could clearly be seen. Although no tornados were in sight, the clouds hung low and looked very ominous . Shades of green and black danced in the sky. Hail stones the size of nickels pounded the roof and air conditioners and rain pelted the windows. But just as quickly as it began it was over. We lucked out and didn’t hear the eerie sound of a train coming. That’s the sound I have heard when a tornado is just outside your door. Mother Nature sparred Van,Texas that night.

Not so true of Canton , Texas to our west. Or of the small communities of Sand Flats and Silver City to our north. Homes and businesses blown apart like a bomb had gone off. Clothes and children’s toys twisted and broken. hanging off limbs Trees that resembled match sticks were strewn across the landscape like they had just fallen out of the matchbox. Pieces of metal roofs laying twisted in the fields. Mother Nature at her wildest and most furious.

We treat our world like a trash bin and Mother Nature comes in with a blast and tells us we are just a small micro organism that she just lets live in her world. What’s that old saying? “Don’t fool with Mother Nature”. Last night truer words were never spoken.

Just 18 miles to our west and then 10 miles to our north,devastation ran rampant. So, yes, we dodged the bullet In Van, Texas.

Veteran’s Day

robert 1I never really know how to celebrate Veterans Day. Yes, my husband was a veteran, as was my dad. They both fought for their country and for our freedom.

Daddy came back from the Korean Conflict. Even tho many, many people lost their lives fighting there, it wasn’t even deemed a war. Just a conflict. He carried a star covered in blood in his wallet till the day he died. He would take it out and look at it and cry. He never knew the man that wore it on his uniform, he just knew that that man died fighting for his country. Fighting for what he thought was the right thing. Just like the Americans thought they were fighting for their rights. Their freedom. Our freedom.

My husband, Robert, fought in the Viet Nam War. He was doing his duty as a service man, but when he came back he was spit on and called horrendous names. Robert was the kindest, most gentle person I have ever met. He came back a changed person. He was skittish and when a loud boom who go off, he would jump under anything he could find. That took years to get over. You couldn’t touch him when he was asleep unless you wanted to get smacked. He would come up fighting. He never really talked about what he had seen in Viet Nam, not to me anyway. He would talk to my Dad, they could commiserate. They had both been thru hell.

I guess what I am trying to say is….yes, be proud of our veterans. Give them thanks for your freedom. But make sure you thank them all…even the ones that fought in wars that nobody liked. Remember how much they gave of themselves, some never returned to the lives they had before. Some finally put what they had seen in the backs of their minds and live a decent life.

And while we are remembering our veterans, try and remember the families of those men and women….the ones that go to bed at night not knowing if their family member will come home whole or if at all. Remember the children that say goodbye to their Mom’s and Dad’s . Freedom comes at a cost…some of us pay more dearly than others.

I love you Robert and miss you everyday…I love you Daddy and miss you too.

Jury Duty…OH MY!!

USA constitutionTuesday I had jury duty……..Ugh….I know what you are thinking.
I thought the same thing. What a waste of my day off?….yep……why me?
I tried to think of ANY reason to get out of it. Nothing I thought of was good enough, so I went , grudgingly.
I drove the 18 miles from Van Texas to the Van Zandt County seat, Canton Texas.

Instead of being in the County Court House, where I am used to going for everything from getting my car registered to paying my taxes, I had to report to the Annex. I had no idea where that was…so I called in advance. Of course I was hoping the person that answered would tell me not to bother coming, that the court was not meeting that day after all. NO such luck. The very pleasant woman that answered told me where to find the Annex and laughed when I asked if the session might have been canceled.The Annex, just for future reference, is directly across the street from the Canton Trade Days, First Monday , VIP entrance.

I got there early. In fact.too early. I walked into the building to find the only person around was the janitor. The court was closed from noon to 1 for lunch. So I had 30 minutes to spend. I drove up the highway past the First Monday , Canton Trade Days, main entrance to get a burger. I was still resenting the fact that I had been called for jury duty on my day off. I got my lunch and ate it in the parking lot of the Annex.Cars started arriving. I was counting….hoping there would be more than enough people to show so I could be sent home.

We began to collect outside the courtroom doors. I counted as they arrived. There were 20. YEAH me!! I wouldn’t be chosen…I could go home!! Each one of us had to sign in, and then were directed into the courtroom.

A very nice woman came in and handed us all a sheet of paper to sign. It was for the money that we were to get paid for showing up. Everyone laughed, we were to get $6.00 just for showing.

Time seemed to drag. I kept wondering what was going on. Finally the Judge came in, he thanked us for doing our civic duty. He then proceeded to tell us that 25 more people should have been there. And how lucky we were that we had shown up, as the others were to have bench warrants sent out for their arrests. WOW!! I was happy that I had shown up.

The presiding judge, I won’t mention his name because I don’t have permission, was what a judge should be. Compassionate, by the law, and amusing when the need arose. But the best trait he had, in my personal opinion, was the way he made each and every prospective juror feel. Wanted and appreciated.

He reminded us that “this is what Democracy is all about” We all have the right to be judged by a jury of our peers. He made me remember what patriotism is and how privileged we are to live in a country like the USA. How most of us take these rights for granted.

I know that I won’t be guilty of forgetting the importance of jury duty again. I will not go grudgingly. I will remember, that jury duty is a privilege, a right. A right Americans have.

The BEST Food is at First Monday, Canton Trade Days !

Canton Trade Days First Monday, the country’s oldest flea market, is widely known and appreciated for many reasons. There is even a parallel between Mardi Gras and First Monday. Everyone should experience each at least once. The next First Monday Trade Days will start on October 29 and go through November 1. This market is so Texas sized big that one can get lost while walking around the grounds.

First Monday Canton Trade Days

Wood working marvels, hats , clothes, music of all kinds, antiques ,hardware, candles, books, kitchen items, dishes, knick-knacks, saddles, tack, leather works and many many more items. But….the best thing for a lot of people, including myself,  is the FOOD!

First Monday’s Arbor Food Court, at the East entrance on Highway 19, which comes in from Interstate 20, sells everything from smoky barbecue and Greek salads to grilled corn and baked potatoes with all the fixings. The variety of foods is overwhelming. Homemade ice cream, to corn dogs and hand-cut fries, a delicious chicken fried steak to shrimp. Food concession vendors in the Original First Monday Park are cooking up something tasty for all shoppers, whatever their taste or preferences. My personal favorites are the crepes, especially the banana and chocolate crepes. Oooooooo….the food just boggles the mind!

Some of Canton Trade Days, First Monday’s other  delicacies that have become favorites of mine include fresh-squeezed lemonade, smoked turkey legs, funnel cakes (pancake-like batter drizzled into hot oil through a funnel and covered in powdered sugar), sausage on a stick,  kettle corn (mildly sweet popcorn), and wonderful homemade breakfasts. You can snack your way through or sit down to a complete meal. No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the Canton Trade Days grounds… water, coffees, teas, soft drinks and fruit juices abound.

During  First Monday, Canton Trade Days, there are parking lots directly across the street. The normal rate for parking is $4.00 per vehicle. Be advised that there is no free parking on the streets near First Monday on Trade Days.

Once you leave First Monday head on over to visit my little city of Van, Texas. We are only a 10 minute drive and we have plenty of unique restaurants and lovely Bed and Breakfast’s that you can stay in. Come early, stay late!

Homecoming Parade

Van High School Band

What a lovely evening here in Van, Texas. Cars and people lined Highway 110 leading to the new Van High School Stadium. The annual Homecoming parade was on it’s way.

The children lining the highway were thrilled when the first firetruck blasted it’s horn and siren. The parade was heading our way. We could hear the band playing, the cheerleaders yelling and the music was blaring! There were people parked in the church parking lots, at Hilliards Funeral Home and at New way convience store. The highway fairly crackled with excitement.

With the lights on the fire truck swirling and blinking, first came the Van High School Vandal Marching Band! The drums were beating out the rythm and the horns were swaying to the beat! Next came the cheerleaders, yelling their little lungs out! HAPPY HOMECOMING were the cheers along with GO VANDALS!!

Van High School Drill TeamNext came the drill team…in all their red and white finery! Prancing and strutting down the highway. Then came the football players with their hulking forms throwing candy and beads to the kids along the way.

The Homecoming float had the Queen and her court, smiling and waving to everyone. Kids were laughing , old folks were reliving their youth…it was truely an amazing sight.

There were floats from all different things that make up Van , Texas. The oilfield was represented,a lighted derrick with oilfield workers, young and old. The Van High School  Lady Vandal Volleyball team were showing their spirit. The United Methodist Church had a sweet float with members of the church throwing candy and waving at old friends along the route.A group of children from the grade school represented all the Little Vandals.

The Van High School 2010 Seniors were all decked out in the Vandals T-shirts…..the Van Soccer Association were there…..and 30 motorcycles revved their engines. The last big fire truck blared it’s horn  and with lights flashing the Van High School Homecoming parade passed us by and  ended the way it began.

Van High School Football TeamAs I sit here munching on some of the candy that was thrown, I realise what a good life is to be had in small town Texas. Where most of the town turns out on a Thursday night to watch and cheer on the Home Town team and watch their children, grandchildren and even some great grand children in a parade.

About First Monday, Canton Trade Days

First Monday, Canton Trade Days, still going strong,  for 150 years..  Amazing!! Yes!!

In the beginning, people traveled from all around northeast Texas to meet in Canton to sell and swap horses, dogs, cattle and homemade foods at a flea market in front of the courthouse.  Today, First Monday,  Canton Trade Days, is known around the world as the Canton Flea Market, attracts as many as 10,000 vendors and covers over 28 square miles of walkways.

canton-trade-days-first-monday

Obviously, First Monday,  Canton Trade Days has outgrown their original place in the square in front of the courthouse. In the mid 1960’s, the City of Canton bought about 6 acres of land north of the courthouse and moved the Canton Flea Market away from the town square.

The flea market grew, and grew. And spread out. And flourished. For 150 years. Every weekend. Many claim that First Monday is the largest and oldest continually operated flea market in the United States. First Monday isn’t technically held on a Monday, but no one seems to mind.

First Monday , Canton Trade Days are held from Thursday to Sunday on the weekend before the first Monday of every month. It’s only 18 miles (a 10 minute drive) from Van, Texas. The outdoor vendors often set-up and begin selling as early as the Monday prior to the official First Monday weekend.

Thousands of vendors sell antiques and collectibles, jewelry and vintage clothing , arts and crafts, furniture, art, crystal, candles, candy, dogs, T-shirts, flower arrangements, cowboy hats, Texas stuff, DVD’s, plants and food. You can find just about anything at First Monday, Canton Trade Days.

The variety of food available at First Monday is amazing. Fried snickers , pork on a stick, hand cut french fries, corny dogs, and the most wonderful fruit crepes in the East Texas area!!

The flea market includes hundreds of  fresh vegetable stands and fresh fruit stands, in season.

A few tips : Dress for comfort, Saturday is the most crowded day, you can rent carts to lug your purchases around, reserve a space ahead of time for your RV,  best deals are in January.

In 2001, PBS featured Canton Trade Days in A Flea Market Documentary.

I can’t imagine anyone not being able to find something they want or need at First Monday, Canton Trade Days!

The next First Monday Trade Days in Canton is October 1st through October 4th, 2009.  Booths open 8am.

Airport Information

TYLER POUNDS FIELD

Airports certified for carrier operations nearest to Van:

TYLER POUNDS RGNL (about 21 miles;  TYLER, TX; ID: TYR)

700 Skyway Blvd., Tyler, Tx, 75704
P.O. Box 2039, Tyler, Tx, 75710
Phone: 903-531-2343 Fax: 903-531-9843
Davis Dickson, Manager

This airport is the closest to Van. The new terminal was built in August 2002. It has the most beautiful Rose in the floor as you enter.Tyler is known as the Rose City. American Eagle and Continental Connection are there to serve as your connection to the rest of the world.

American Eagle provides daily airline service to DFW Airport
Reservations: 1-800-433-7300
Baggage: 1-800-535-5225
Cargo: 1-800-227-4622
Paging: 903-593-5557

Continental Connection is now United , and Parking rates are as follows

$1.00 per hr or 8.00 per day in short term parking, .75 per hour or 5.00 per day long term.

Handicap parks in Short Term and will be charged Long Term rates, Disable Vets , Purple Hearts , Medal of Honor , and POW park for free.

Rental Cars

Avis
903-592-2613
M-F 8:30 am – 10:00 pm
Sat. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sun. 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Alamo
903-533-0866
M-F 8:00 am – 8:30 pm
Fri 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat CLOSED
Sun 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Enterprise
903-526-3855
M-F 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sat. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sun. 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

National
903-597-1375
M -Th 8:00 am – 8:30 pm
Fri. 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Sat. CLOSED
Sun. 12:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Parking
Short-term parking is $1.00 an hour with a
maximum of $6.50 per day.

Long-term parking is $ .75 an hour with a
maximum of $4.50 per day.

EAST TEXAS RGNL (about 66 miles; LONGVIEW, TX; ID: GGG)

COX FLD (about 78 miles; PARIS, TX; ID: PRX)