On August 8, 1973, Bob and I were driving back from a supply run to Farm and Fleet in Kankakee, Illinois. If it was one of our usual trips, we had lunch at the Wagon wheel restaurant. They had the best fried catfish!
Bob said he wondered if we should keep dating. It kind of sounded like he was breaking up with me. After dating for two years he couldn’t see where we were going.
I don’t exactly how we got around to the word marriage, but it eventually came up.
It went something like this.
Me: Bob, I never agreed to marry you because you never asked. You’ve got to ask me.
Bob: Well, do you want to?
That was his proposal. It wasn’t until last year, when we were at a family gathering, that he admitted he’d been trying to figure out how to ask me to marry him. That was nice to hear.
At least we were both on the same page.
Four months later we had a church wedding, surrounded by all our friends and family.
I’ve been reading old columns on YouTube. Yesterday I thought I’d do something more recent. I chose one from last summer when Bob’s cancer treatments were working and he and I could happily work together. It turns out I couldn’t read it, but I’ll share it here instead.
A new adventure for the Manzkes
When Bob and I lived in Illinois, we grew sweet corn to sell. Bob would pick it early in the morning into the back of the pickup truck. He’d then park the truck in the yard and put a sign up: fifty cents a dozen, self-serve. We never took our corn or pumpkins to a farmer’s market.
I’ve attended the Seymour Farmer’s Market many times in the past. Since we don’t grow much of a garden, I never even considered exhibiting. When I looked up the market on Facebook I saw the ‘about’ section said: Seymour Farmer’s Market has a venue of produce, crafts, and entertainment. “I do crafts and art,” I said. “We should set up at the Seymour Market.” The crazy thing is that Bob agreed.
Stashed in a shed I found the old canopy I used to use when I took my watercolor paintings to art fairs. To my astonishment, all of it was there. The two holes nibbled by mice were patchable. The only trouble was there weren’t any instructions on how to put up the canopy.
I started working on the assembly alone in our backyard, but I didn’t get very far. I needed help. Bob wandered out to see what I was doing and I drafted him to help.
There were all kinds of polls and six plastic connectors. All we had to do was to match everything up so it would stand on its four legs. I’m afraid that was easier said than done.
Most of the braces and legs were the same length and could fit one into another. They even had numbers on them from 1 to 4. You’d think that meant four legs, but the 1s turned out to be part of the canopy roof arch.
It took hours to get the stupid thing together, but we did it. It was a proud moment for us to stand under its shade.
Okay, so we did this once, we shouldn’t have any problems when we took it to Seymour’s Farmer’s Market. Right?
Lucky for us we got there early, because setting up that canopy was a bummer—and imagine I used to do it alone.
Bob wasn’t much help our first Tuesday. I pulled all the parts out of the bag and put things on the ground in an orderly fashion—the canopy was very old fashioned compared to everyone else’s at the market. Since we were working from the ground up, Bob couldn’t bend to pick up parts. All he could do was hold the top and stop it from flying away.
I put some of the legs together, but I couldn’t figure out how the plastic attachments connected them—and this is after practicing.
Bob kept telling me I was doing it wrong, but he didn’t have very many ideas about how to get the darn bugger together.
Did I mention it was a hot afternoon? Did I have to mention that I was totally frustrated?
Somehow we got it together! Heavy sigh.
The rest of the setup wasn’t hard: tables, chairs—painted tiles, copper trees, and my books were for sale.
The rain didn’t come right away, but it did come. The only thing I had to worry about was my books. The other items could get wet. Luckily, it didn’t rain too hard and there wasn’t any wind to blow everything away.
Our first afternoon had many highlights, like all the nice people who stopped by to visit.
We exhibited every Tuesday at the Seymour Farmer’s Market through August after buying a better canopy. (I wish I could say the same for 2020.)
Bob and I never went expecting big sales. Mostly it was to get out of the house and see people. We’d have lunch at the market and snacks, too. It was a good outing we could do together.
Here are some photos Bob took of me and our farmer’s market setup.
Here’s a Farmer’s Market away from Seymour. There wasn’t a lot of traffic stopping by that day, but we still had fun.