Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tom Rall Archives: The Flea Market at Eastern Market

Tom Rall (founder and manager of The Flea Market at Eastern Market 1984-2011) finished college the same year I was born, 1967.  Sometime in 2010, Tom loaned me piles of photos and other documentation of his life at the market.  Something was happening,without fanfare or ceremony a torch was being passed. I had thought back in 2009 when I started writing about folk at the market that "I would not allow 'my group and our shared past to be causally erased' not this time - not on my watch.  By entrusting me with these images Mr. Rall was telling me, 'yes it is your watch now.'

One of the ways that the telling or rather construction of history can be judged is on the writers or tellers ability to obtain primary documentation (* the concept of written documentation as most important is a construct of 'western civilization').  I could not get better primary documentation than those of Mr. Rall.

Who built this community...Eastern Market

John Harrod
Tom Rall
The Exhibitors

The ten of thousands of customers, friends, family, local, international, regional folk
came and come to shop and share.

If one is lucky, one of the things that happens in a life time is you grow up, older, wiser and you watch children grow into adulthood.  As an introduction to these images, a conversation with one who grew up at Eastern Market- Mr. William Mc Dougle.

Tom Rall ; Archives images

Eddie The Book man
Elenor Drabo 
Doris Little "The Button Lady" 
Simmie Knoxs

Jessie Dunham 

Vernon and Cornell Burnett

                                                                          Roberta Knox


Founder of the The Flea Market at Eastern Market: Tom Rall

held his wedding at Market 5 Gallery now the empty north hall at Eastern Market

Tom Rall gives a kiss to wife Debbi Tucker

                     Invited guest, long time exhibitor at the market: furniture maker

Invited guest: Stalwarts of the exhibitor community

Becky M and Linda Brown


Who built this community, maintained, nourished, supported it, and watched it grow?
What has this place and these people meant to folks....


The following images are from a photo essay published on the eastern market dot net website in November of 2003.

"The Many Faces of Eastern Market" : A Photo Essay Online

by: Bill Severe

 Tom gave me a copy of the images and  and he also included an email dating 11/21/2003. In that email he spoke about his life experiences at the market,

"For me Eastern Market has always been about the people, Rall said, and Severe has captured the great diversity among our exhibitors. I truly feel they make my job one of the most interesting in the world.

In the future we plan to expand the essay to include more and more of the important people-the South Hall merchants; the Center Hall potters; the North Hall Market 5 Gallery, the Saturday Market Festival arts and crafts exhibitors and, finally the customers without whose support w wouldn't exist."

The photos were taken the first Sunday in November, a 77F- degree day, and the next Sunday, a 50F degree one with a wind chill near freezing.  It takes a strong, adaptable person to do this kind of work every week, Rall said in admiring the determination of his fellow exhibitors.

Rall, who has manged the Sunday flea market for 20 years, is also an exhibitor, who sells vintage photographic lantern slides and stereo views, contemporary art pottery, antique maps and prints along with a few other interesting items of inventory."

Joel,  Tom,  (lower right hand corner *Joe  Shymanski*)
Kim, Noor, Mayling,  Larry, Alan, Becky Golsh


What city would not celebrate this achievement?  This diverse multicultural and generation community is what folk dreamed of, fought and died for.  And it is real!  Every weekend one can take part: and become apart of this beauty.  Who would think of destroying it?  Money can not rebuild it, neither can lies, corporate or personal greed.  What are the elements, factors, structures, belief, cultural mores that build a community.  How quickly can one abandon, erase, negative and forget it?

Sonda Tamarr Allen


Turtle's Webb


Envisioning Visions
by: Brady Rall 
"I don’t want to be an artist.
I don’t want to be a superhero.
I don’t want to be a doctor, a politician, a lawyer, or a journalist…
I want to be a thinker,
a dreamer,
a believer in trust and love.
I don’t want to separate humanity,
work for a destructive power plant,
or cry salty tears of dissatisfaction.
I want to revel in the hopes of others,
work towards a common goal,
find solidarity in a creative community.

Freedom's Plow

By: Langston Hughes

When a man starts out with nothing,

When a man starts out with his hands

Empty, but clean,

When a man starts to build a world,

He starts first with himself

And the faith that is in his heart-

The strength there,

The will there to build.

First in the heart is the dream-

Then the mind starts seeking a way.

His eyes look out on the world,

On the great wooded world,

On the rich soil of the world,

On the rivers of the world.

The eyes see there materials for building,

See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.

The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.

The hand seeks tools to cut the wood,

To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.

Then the hand seeks other hands to help,

A community of hands to help-

Thus the dream becomes not one man’s dream alone,

But a community dream.

Not my dream alone, but our dream.

Not my world alone,

But your world and my world,

Belonging to all the hands who build.

A long time ago, but not too long ago,

Ships came from across the sea

Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers,

Adventurers and booty seekers,

Free men and indentured servants,

Slave men and slave masters, all new-

To a new world, America!

With billowing sails the galleons came

Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.

In little bands together,

Heart reaching out to heart,

Hand reaching out to hand,

They began to build our land.

Some were free hands

Seeking a greater freedom,

Some were indentured hands

Hoping to find their freedom,

Some were slave hands

Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,

But the word was there always:


Down into the earth went the plow

In the free hands and the slave hands,

In indentured hands and adventurous hands,

Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands

That planted and harvested the food that fed

And the cotton that clothed America.

Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands

That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.

Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls

That moved and transported America.

Crack went the whips that drove the horses

Across the plains of America.

Free hands and slave hands,

Indentured hands, adventurous hands,

White hands and black hands

Held the plow handles,

Ax handles, hammer handles,

Launched the boats and whipped the horses

That fed and housed and moved America.

Thus together through labor,

All these hands made America.

Labor! Out of labor came villages

And the towns that grew cities.

Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats

And the sailboats and the steamboats,

Came the wagons, and the coaches,

Covered wagons, stage coaches,

Out of labor came the factories,

Came the foundries, came the railroads.

Came the marts and markets, shops and stores,

Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured,

Sold in shops, piled in warehouses,

Shipped the wide world over:

Out of labor-white hands and black hands-

Came the dream, the strength, the will,

And the way to build America.

Now it is Me here, and You there.

Now it’s Manhattan, Chicago,

Seattle, New Orleans,

Boston and El Paso-

Now it’s the U.S.A.

A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said:






His name was Jefferson. There were slaves then,

But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too,

And silently too for granted

That what he said was also meant for them.

It was a long time ago,

But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said:




There were slaves then, too,

But in their hearts the slaves knew

What he said must be meant for every human being-

Else it had no meaning for anyone.

Then a man said:



He was a colored man who had been a slave

But had run away to freedom.

And the slaves knew

What Frederick Douglass said was true.

With John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, Negroes died.

John Brown was hung.

Before the Civil War, days were dark,

And nobody knew for sure

When freedom would triumph

"Or if it would," thought some.

But others new it had to triumph.

In those dark days of slavery,

Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom,

The slaves made up a song:

Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!

That song meant just what it said: Hold On!

Freedom will come!

Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!

Out of war it came, bloody and terrible!

But it came!

Some there were, as always,

Who doubted that the war would end right,

That the slaves would be free,

Or that the union would stand,

But now we know how it all came out.

Out of the darkest days for people and a nation,

We know now how it came out.

There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.

There was a great wooded land,

And men united as a nation.

America is a dream.

The poet says it was promises.

The people say it is promises-that will come true.

The people do not always say things out loud,

Nor write them down on paper.

The people often hold

Great thoughts in their deepest hearts

And sometimes only blunderingly express them,

Haltingly and stumblingly say them,

And faultily put them into practice.

The people do not always understand each other.

But there is, somewhere there,

Always the trying to understand,

And the trying to say,

"You are a man. Together we are building our land."


Land created in common,

Dream nourished in common,

Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on!

If the house is not yet finished,

Don’t be discouraged, builder!

If the fight is not yet won,

Don’t be weary, soldier!

The plan and the pattern is here,

Woven from the beginning

Into the warp and woof of America:







Who said those things? Americans!

Who owns those words? America!

Who is America? You, me!

We are America!

To the enemy who would conquer us from without,

We say, NO!

To the enemy who would divide

And conquer us from within,

We say, NO!




To all the enemies of these great words:

We say, NO!

A long time ago,

An enslaved people heading toward freedom

Made up a song:

Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!

The plow plowed a new furrow

Across the field of history.

Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.

From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.

That tree is for everybody,

For all America, for all the world.

May its branches spread and shelter grow

Until all races and all peoples know its shade.