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Around The Grange
A California Grange represents local history

By Bridget Jones, Auburn Journal, California (2/24/11)

  MARCH 7, 2011 --

An organization operating in Auburn, California for the last 80 years has a rich history, and keeps a firm place in the community with an ongoing social event.

The Auburn Mt. Vernon Subordinate Grange No. 453 was formed in February 1931 at the Mt. Vernon Community Hall on Mt. Vernon Road, according to Grange documents.

In 1939 construction began on a new Grange hall in the Rock Creek District on then-Columbia Road, now called Bell Road, according to the documents.

It has been located at 3185 Bell Road since 1940, the documents state.

“It’s the National Grange,” said Auburn resident Sara Crosby, Grange member and manager of its flea market. “It was formed first on the East Coast. It was formed in California in 1873. (The Grange) shows how the community got started. (The Mt. Vernon Grange) shows this was a farming community. The Grange was the support of the farming families. The Grange is the forerunner of 4H and FFA … and the Grange still supports it.”

In 1974 Grange members started a monthly flea market, Crosby said.

“The flea market, the (space rental) monies support the Grange,” she said. “They support different community activities and they support the upkeep of this building.”

Crosby, who has been selling at the market since 1981, was the first of four generations in her family to sell items there.

“It’s a place to come and buy some stuff,” Crosby said. “We have a lot of collectors. It’s amazing what percentage of the population are collectors.”

Grange member Ron Montana said the struggling economy has promoted growth in the flea market.

“Since the economy has taken a negative turn, this place has done much more business,” Montana said.

Grange member Manuel Ferreira said a lot of sellers are trying to condense their lives.

“A lot of the people, especially in these hard times, they are emptying their garages,” Ferreira said.

Auburn resident Jim McFarlane sells a variety of things at the market.

“I have got a lady who buys rusty crusty pots and pans,” McFarlane said. “We have the same people who come back to the same place every time.”

McFarlane also sold Montana a1942 dummy artillery round, used to train Navy sailors on the U.S.S. Forrestal during the war. The four-foot tall round had been made into a lamp.

Montana said he bought the lamp for about $25 and then found out it was worth more than $100.

McFarlane said he also sells antlers that people buy to fashion into knife handles.

Montana said he bought a velveteen box with a picture frame inside it at the market, and couldn’t figure out what the box was used for originally.

“So, I paid $1.50 for it,” Montana said. “It turned out … 1860 Calvary officers, when they would go from fort to fort, they would put their wives’ or families’ pictures in it. They would open it up … and put it on their desks.”

Grange member and Sacramento resident Donna Henriques, who owns property in Auburn and sells at the flea market, said she often sees items like antique clocks, wood stoves and trunks.

“I think the antiques are the most novel things,” Henriques said. “There are some things that come in there I can’t even identify what they are. “I have seen everything from automobiles to salt and pepper shakers.”

Henriques said her mom and dad were fruit farmers and bought their Auburn property in 1948.

“They were members of the Grange years back,” she said. “The Grange was a unit within the area where the farmers all got together.”

Crosby said those who visit the flea market can find a wide variety of things such as coins, silver and gold jewelry, DVDs, plants, catnip cat beds, toys, antique tools, fruit and vegetables, linens, lamps, art and more.

Weapons, food, other than fruit and vegetables, animals and illegal items are prohibited at the market, Crosby said.

The market usually includes about 70 to 75 sellers, Crosby said.

The Grange currently has a women’s organization, works with local Girl Scouts during their cookie drive, holds a polling place on election days, holds presentations by a number of speakers and is available for wedding receptions, Crosby said.

Crosby said she hopes the flea market will also bring more interest in Grange memberships.

“The problem is the organization is getting older,” she said. “We need new blood.”

Henriques said she often sees residents from the community sit and chat during the flea market, and she enjoys seeing people she knows.

“I’m a native of the area, and I find it to be a very social event,” Henriques said.


Auburn Mt. Vernon Grange Flea Market

When: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., first and third Saturdays of every month

Where: Mt. Vernon Grange, 3185 Bell Road, Auburn, California

Seller cost: $10 per space

Information or seller reservations: Call (530) 888-6689







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