Steve Maden:  An American Original

- by Bruce E. McKinney

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From Steve’s house in fact history is found in every direction and it’s in one or more of these directions that Steve heads out almost every weekend to buy material to post to his auctions.  His week is dense with commitments.   Laying out the weekend plan he checks the Bee, MAD, the local papers and the flea market directories.
  

On Fridays he’s thinking about house sales and auction previews, on Saturdays and Sundays the flea markets that open like spring flowers, one here and one there, dotting the countryside.   On a whim and how they sound he might head up to Onteora, west into Sullivan County, or possibly run north on 32, turning onto 146 at Durham in the direction of Livingstonville and Preston Hollow.  They have interesting flea markets.   His ’97 Explorer is a statement of confidence.  “If I don’t drive something big I can’t bring anything big back.”  The man is an optimist and the flea markets interesting.  “The only problem is rain” so weather reports are important.  In his pocket he’s carrying a thousand dollars cash.  “Ten years ago I used to carry two but prices are way down.”  A thousand does it now.

Whatever he finds he pays cash.  No sellers accept anything else.  Welcome of the under-economy.  For himself, he keeps records but there are no receipts. If the weather is wrong or the opportunities better he’ll head east avoiding the toll roads like snakebite.  “I like to drive and I’m in no hurry.”  There are random auctions in Pleasant Valley and Putnam County to look over and a good flea market in Stormville but if he stays on the Taconic Parkway heading south on FDR’s highway home, with a few zigs and zags, he can get into Connecticut and its clear from the tone in his voice he’s made some great buys there.  “Connecticut has been good to me – particularly the Elephant’s Trunk in New Milford.”