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“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.” (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 193–206.)

 

The years have passed but reality still begs the question in my head: who was Eleanor?

The year was  about 1977 and the  Waldo Farmer’s and Flea market was operational. I recall a bigger horse standing at its entrance than the one they use now, pictured here.

But, the ads, “Look for the Big Horse,” were already running on T.V.

It was the start of a profitable 14 year-long  leather crafting career, a path filled with lean times that would eventually get lucrative. At the time, I crammed all I could into back packs and used my thumb to hitch the 13 miles from Gainesville to Waldo to rent five dollar per day tables to display my wares.

It’s true, I went for the money but in the process I learned the lingo needed to attract customers. I was from up North so I entered the realm of southern dialect from another world’s banter: slow worked better than NYC Jewish Deli ordering speed; a friendly greeting was mandatory; conversations about the weather were important. Selling leather as real leather fell flat compared to saying, “It’s Pure leather.” Items could not be broken but were ,’Subject to wear.’ Nothing lasted forever, but they could last for a ,”Good while.” These terms people believed.

There was another advantage to speaking slowly and taking my time when selling leather goods. I actually got to meet my customers and know their stories. This is how I got to know Eleanor…

Eleanor and her husband seemed to be from old money, English I gathered, and so proper. Age was the only thing that would’ve ever gotten the best of her. She often stopped by my table and bought hair barrettes. She’d talk about any improvements she noticed in my tooling,  better prices, or variety. It felt that they both liked to see a young man in his early twenties trying to make a go of it. I always believed they bought things to help me out. That was good, but there was another part to this seller/buyers deal that took place.

Inevitably, as I bantered with Eleanor she’d ramble a bit longer than her husband had patience for . He’d thump his cane, “Now, Eleanor, that’s enough now.”  Eleanor would clutch her purse, “Why, I’m just making conversation on this lovely day. ” Thump, thump, thump went her husband’s the cane. ” Come on, Eleanor, your wasting this man’s time and mine!” This difference of opinion would lead to quicker paced phrasing not so much of the agreeable sort until they both offered that being married too long was, well too long. Finally the pleasantly warring couple would move on having helped me out once more.

But there was another day, another conversation, one you need to read about.

Eleanor and her husband came strolling up to my booth on a weekend day like every other. Her husband had this annoying habit of whistling poorly as Eleanor picked up a few items to buy from my table. It was a surprise when Eleanor paid me and then pulled out an item I’d never seen…”Do you know what this is.” Eleanor asked with a gleam in her eye. “Eleanor, where did you get that?” Her husband seemed to laugh, but through the side of his mouth, as though this was not a laugh at all. Thump! went his cane. “Oh dear, you know I have these items.” Then Eleanor turned to me,” Well, do you know what this is?”

I took the item in hand. It was a clasp of sorts that opened and closed on either end all joined by an elaborate beaded straight 4 inch long center piece. The entire piece was no wider than five inches and it was heavily laden with small Amethyst looking stones throughout. “Well, it’s too heavy , too large to be a barrette?” I marveled at an object I couldn’t identify.

“Eleanor, leave this man alone. Now take that back and let’s go. I told you not to do this sort of thing.” The husband motioned to me that Eleanor was losing it—I figured their daily squabble was not far off.

“Eleanor smiled as she took back the object. “Well, one day this is something you will need. And,” Eleanor paused, “I think it’s the right color, too.”

“That’s it!” Stomped her husband. ” Go, Eleanor, go!” The husband push guided Eleanor away but then he turned and came back to me. “She just a bit nuts; pay no attention to her.” I watched him leave and take with him this memory forever, or so I thought.

Thing is, twenty-five years later, in 2000,  my wife and I bought house in Gainesville that featured fine Levonor blinds to cover the two front living room windows. They worked great until about 2008 when the apparatus seemed to break down. Soon, we just left them open and my wife added beautiful drapes we might close at night or open by day. Things went along fine until about 2012 when I noticed how much I disliked the two drapes remaining spread apart at the top when I tried to close them at night.

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Bingo.  I looked at the color scheme of the drapes and remembered: “This is something you’ll need…and I think it’s the right color, too.” Eleanor’s words hit me like a cold arctic blast blowing on a hot summer day.

“There’s no way….” I stared in disbelief stunned by a memory that now stared me in the face. The butterfly clip Eleanor had showed me was for the purpose of holding the two tops of split curtains together when you spread them apart in the day.

Thing is, it’s been six years since that day. I’ve waited to tell this story, one I’ve thought often to not tell because it is too wild, not reasonable, undocumented, and also I’d waited so long tell it. Why? Well for 25 years the remembrance of the conversation meant nothing, it remained like an unmatched soggy sock in my head mixed in with so many other memories of selling over the years. Then, the match to the experience appeared before me in these curtains. It brought the conversation to my head as though a pin had pierced my brain.

“Something you will need one day…” Eleanor was certain.

“I told you not to do this sort of thing.” Eleanor’s husband.

“I think it’s the right color, too.” Eleanor had been right.

“Don’t pay attention to Eleanor; she’s a bit nuts.” Really?

I watched Eleanor and her husband walk away that day but now I wonder—did they? What is time, and how can someone see the future if it doesn’t already exist? There are thousand, maybe more, recorded situations where people have known the future, but how?

As to Eleanor? Perhaps, she was a bit nuts, I don’t know. But Shakespeare wrote it right: “Madness, but there is a method in’t”

Eleanor knew, but how? Who was she?

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Tell me, how did so many people know before hand not to board the Titanic? (look that up). What is time…?

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“Just keep the drapes open during the day and we’re good!” (Shadow…)

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