Monday, April 17, 2017

Memory Bank: U.S. #1 Indoor Flea-Market and Antiques in New Jersey

I’ve written here about my boyhood adventures in the seventies at the Englishtown Flea Market, an incredible outdoor bazaar where I found toys galore, comic-books, and issues of Starlog Magazine.

Another incredible market of my childhood was the U.S. Route #1 Indoor Flea-Market in New Brunswick, New Jersey…which is now a Loew’s multiplex. 

You may have some passing familiarity with U.S. #1 if you watched Kevin Smith’s Mallrats (1995). That comedy film featured a scene set at the famous “dirt mall.” 

Alas, by 1996, the dirt mall market was gone.

However, U.S. #1, near Edison -- in its hey-day -- was another incredible flea market. The market was housed in a 175,000 square foot building, and more than 100 merchants operated there every weekend.  

You could find anything imaginable at U.S. #1 in those days, from fresh produce dealers and cast-off military items, to a jeweler who traveled to Jersey every weekend from Philadelphia.  My family would typically visit U.S. #1 on the way home from Englishtown, but on some Saturdays, it was the main event.

I loved U.S. #1 for two reasons.

 First, there was an amazing, extremely crowded booth there that served as an ad-hoc used book-store, and featured great film and TV books.  I have owned three or four copies of Gary Gerani’s Fantastic Television (1977) over the decades, but if memory serves, I found my first copy at U.S. #1.  It was a great day.  I remember reading avidly on the trip home from the market, my eyes never wandering from the book's pages.

One Saturday at U.S. #1 market, I also came across another item I’ve never forgotten: a Space:1999 book that I didn’t even know existed at the time.  

The book -- Phoenix of Megaron -- was designed and colored in red instead of blue like the rest of the novel line, and discovering it there, at U.S. #1 -- in a large bin --- was like finding a lost treasure, or something from an alternate universe.

Secondly, I loved U.S. #1 because was also a great comic-book dealer there, and I remember, in particular, catching up with issues of Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica comic series.  In particular, I was trying to fill out my collection (and get one missing issue involving “The Memory Machine.”)

By the mid-1980s, I guess we stopped going to U.S. #1, which is a shame, because I understand that it displayed a De Lorean there, like the one in the Back to the Future movies, for a time.  

I was sad to learn, in preparing this memory bank post that it isn’t there anymore...just another piece of childhood that exists now only in the memory. 

1 comment:

  1. John,
    Those are some really great finds and great memories!