Woman coordinates Tailgate Flea Market

August 23, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note: There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like ...

Marion James

Age: 67.

Hometown: Born in Galesburg, Ill., then lived in Peoria, Ill., until moving to Hagerstown with her family when she was 11.

Where would you see James? James works behind the scenes of the Springfield Tailgate Flea Market. The flea market is a fundraising effort of the Williamsport Historical Society.

The group is raising money to expand the town's museum and to replace the roof on the tenant house so it can be restored and used as a living-history museum. It hopes to get a grant to help cover expenses, but is trying to raise money knowing that matching funds will be required.


James said it is called a tailgate flea market because only the space is provided. Vendors are encouraged to sell their merchandise out of the back of their vans or trailers, or must provide their own tables. For $15, vendors get a space in the field next to the barn that houses the Williamsport Town Museum on Springfield Lane. Spaces are first-come, first-serve, and James recommends filling out an application in advance to reserve a space.

Setup begins at 6 a.m., and the flea market runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors who stay until 2 p.m. receive $5 back.

This is the first year for the flea market, which has been held on the fourth Saturday of each month since May. James said the May event was a success, with 15 vendors participating. The threat of rain kept vendors away from the June and July flea markets, even though there were a lot of customers.

James is optimistic that the one being held this weekend during Williamsport Days will fare better. Even though August is the last scheduled month for the flea market, James said she has heard from vendors that fall is a better time for flea markets than the summer, so it might continue if the vendors are willing.

James said food is served later in the day. She would love to have vendors selling produce to add some variety.

James and her husband, John, who grew up in Williamsport, are both on the committee of the Williamsport Town Museum. They met through a mutual acquaintance after John got out of the Navy, even though he said he wasn't interested in dating.

The Jameses have been married for 48 years. They live just outside Williamsport on Honeyfield Road in the second house John built for them.

They are part of a rotating group of volunteers who take turns opening the town museum from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays and serving as docents. On the fourth Sunday of each month, they greet museum visitors and answer questions about the displays.

Before joining the town museum committee, James and her daughter, Johnna Maravelis, owned a gift shop in Williamsport called Decisions, Decisions that they ran for about six years. They closed the shop about five years ago, allowing James to put her display and business skills to use as a historical volunteer.

Prior to owning the gift shop, James worked as the activities director at Homewood at Williamsport and Ravenwood Lutheran Village. She enjoyed working with seniors so much that she still makes weekly visits to Homewood and Twin Oaks, the assisted-living section of Williamsport Retirement Village, as a volunteer, playing her autoharp for the residents.

"I used to feel guilty taking a paycheck for playing with my friends. I loved it," said James, a 1957 graduate of St. Maria Goretti High School.

James has also had a lot of experience with children, having raised eight of her own. She has 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

What does James like best about Washington County? "It's the most beautiful place in the country. If you want the beach, it's not far to go. If you want mountains, look out the window," James said. "I love historical houses. What's not to love?"

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, call Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024, or send an e-mail to

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