Larry Hypes is a teacher at Tazewell High School and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph.
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Labor Day was one we always looked forward to and enjoyed. Dad and I loved the big September Monday when we headed off to the Tazewell Livestock Market and the flea market located at the Sunset Drive In Theatre grounds. From old hound dogs to Indian head pennies there was something for nearly everyone at the flea market there under the shade of the big screen. One of my favorite places was the area just east of the old concession stand where the musicians would gather. Roy Wright from up on Mudfork could almost always be found there with his fiddle and local musicians such as Buford Conn, and many others, would join in. There were many times I just found a convenient pick up truck tailgate and sat there for most of the morning when the boys were really tuned up and in full swing.
It was also a fine place to look at all kinds of guns, which many of the coal miners and farmers loved to buy, sell, and trade. Those were the good old days when people still trusted each other and no one ever even considered such a thing as a background check. Many of those men had fought in World War II or Korea and it was not unusual to see Mausers or Lugers mixed in with the Remingtons and Winchesters. Folks kept a shotgun or a rifle up on the truck gun rack at most times, anyway, and quite a few usually carried a pocket pistol to the market. Even a couple of generations back, less food was bought at grocery stores than is purchased today. Our family was no different. We hunted to provide food for the kitchen table. Squirrels, rabbits — you name it. We did not waste meat, nor did we just shoot animals for sport. That meat went into the skillet, the gravy bowl, or the freezer to be used later.