Norris Loyd sat outside American Legion Post 154 nearly all day last Saturday the second day of White Clout's 45th Flea Market selling tickets for a drawing on a teakwood carousel horse.
Financial officer for Post 154, rural White Cloud resident and a long-time flea marketgoer, he recalled the gathering's earlier days.
Loyd credited the local historical society, which operates the Mah Hush Kah Museum at the top of Main Street, with starting the flea market in 1969.
That group later turned it over to the city, he said, and after a time, the city turned it over the the legion. In recent years, though, the city has become involved again, and now it and the legion share the primary responsibilities for staging the twice-a-year event.
Vendors each pay $25 for display space and a $5 city license, but are not charged a percent of their profits.
This fall, the legion sold space to 104 vendors, all on Main Street, according to Dennis Rosenberger, another Post 154 member. Sally Yates, who had charge of the city's vendors, said she didn't keep a formal count but knew the city sold space to about another 170 primarily those in the city park and the ball diamond.
Some of townspeople also rent spaces on a private basis, Yates explained, and the historical society rents spaces around its museum, so all together about 500 vendors participated last weekend.
Yates also noted that the grain elevator's owner donates space for both vendors and parking to the city and the legion at the base of Main Street.
Funds the city gains from the market go for improvement of streets and the park, she said, and for such city events as a big Easter egg hunt.
Rosenberger and Loyd said the legion spends its flea market money on scholarships for graduating high school seniors, who either live in Doniphan and Brown counties or are relatives of post members, and special events for veterans from the VA Hospital in Leavenworth.
In addition, they said, another portion of the Legion's funds support annual trips to Washington, D.C., for local seventh- and eighth-graders who are studying governmental issues and who help out at the market in exchange for the support.
Rosenberger said it cost the Legion about $12 per space to pay insurance and advertising costs, so the market it not as big a moneymaker as many people think.
He said he saw the Legion's involvement "as trying to help out the community as best we can" and noted the many local folks who benefit from the event as well from those who rent space in their yards to local eateries, from the Legion to Elrod's Cafe and the local Indian Meal Site, where heaping Indian tacos were sold to the crowd in air-conditioned comfort.
Rosenberger said he only wished someone could some up with another idea for drawing more crowds to his tiny town.
The 46th White Cloud Flea Market will be May 2 and 3, 1992, "starting at daylight 'til last one leaves."
White Cloud is on U.S. Highway 7 north of Atchison in the far northeast corner of Kansas, about a 2 -hour drive from Lawrence.