Kate Walter, Writer

Resident at Westbeth since 1997

Flea Market Tales

I’m a volunteer at the Westbeth Flea Market. I hand out flyers on the corner. I probably got this assignment because I have a big mouth. I like playing carnival barker: “Westbeth Flea Market. Come on down. Lots of great stuff.”

On a chilly November day, I went downstairs to grab the flyers. I was wearing a hoodie, and another volunteer said, “Kate, you’re not dressed warm enough.”

As I started to head back upstairs to grab something warmer, Sandra Kingsbury said, “You can borrow a jacket from the rack.”

So I looked through the outerwear rack and found a nice black parka that fit me. I’m not sure if it was men’s or women’s or unisex. But it looked good on me.

I was handing out flyers on the corner of Bank and Washington when I ran into my neighbor, Ken Wade, and we started chatting. I mentioned that I was wearing a jacket
from the flea market; he said it looked good. After I finished my shift, I went back to the basement and returned the borrowed item.

Shortly after I returned to the sale, Ken was there shopping. He asked me, “Where is that jacket you were wearing outside?”

I found it on the rack. He tried it on and bought it. Turns out I wasn’t just distributing flyers. I was modeling.

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One day I was riding in the Westbeth elevator, and a neighbor said, “That shirt looks a lot better on you than it did on me.” We both laughed.

The same thing happened to me in reverse. I saw Judy Moss wearing a brown and black striped shirt that I had donated because it had shrunk and gotten too tight for me. And it looked much better on her, a thinner person, a dancer.

Another time, I went down to shop and saw my very distinctive T-shirt displayed on a hanger in a prominent place. I had been looking for that shirt for months. I asked Jane Klein, who was working in that section, where the shirt came from, indicating it was mine. She said someone found it in the laundry room. So I got back my lost shirt.

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