I've been working on doing this trek for a couple of years but work/life kept finding ways to keep us busy at home and we never made it. Finally, the stars have aligned and we have gotten our acts together to make the trip. Many, many moons ago, when we lived up in in north Texas, I used to attend the PATE swap meet every year. My brother started going to it back in the late 80's and roped me into going to it. After one turn, I was hooked. A swap meet is a flea market for old cars and car stuff. Lots of people show up to sell their treasures/antiques/junk/crap. At a larger swap meet, you can find anything from original car parts to entire cars. Pate is one of the granddaddies of them all. When you look at swap meets help throughout the US, this is #3 in size, duration, and participants (Hersey, PA, Carlisle, PA are 1 & 2). People show up from all across the states to sell/buy old car stuff. Anything you could ever want related to cars/trucks can be had (think of it as a flea market/garage sale for guys). This swap meet has been held continuously for decades (this year is the 40th). The swap meet used to be called the South Central Swap meet. When started, it was looking for a place to host a sizable event of this stature. Looking for a permanent venue, the found a guy called Aggie Pate who owned a good track of land near Cresson, Texas. Now, at the time, Cresson was not much of a town. A few hardy souls, a church or two, post office, gas station and very little else. The area could be considered remote, a good hour south of Fort Worth.
During our run in the 80's & 90's, my brother and I hooked up with some guys from Corpus Christi and Oklahoma to camp out the entire week. We had an assigned spot in Pate (corner of 4th & Avenue O) that became our spot. We'd show up on Wednesday and stay through Sunday morning. Everyone would bring stuff to sell and something to contribute to the general group welfare/menu. Each night, one person had responsibility for the meal. I've had hobo stew (cooked in a milk can), steaks, burgers, brisket, among a few meals. You didn't have to bring much food, but you never went away hungry. During the days, we would head out to cover the swap meet to see what deals could be had. I've bought/sold/traded a lot of stuff (junk) over the years (bar lights, beer signs, tools, antique tractor, etc.) but to really appreciate the swap meet, you need to have a project car to work on. When I finally found Maria, I was on a hunt for Mustang stuff. Scored a pristine set of original wheels for her one year (with tires). You are not going to find a lot of 68 Mustang parts in your local AutoZone, but at this place you can find anything. My brother had several cars over the years and we would always try to help him out in finding those rare parts for his project. I spent one whole Pate looking for a "Waterfall Chrome Radio Cover" for his 1936 Ford Cabriolet.
|New shoes for Maria|
|All sorts of transportation|
|There's always something different each year|
|Just what I needed for the garage|