The last item I want to mention is probably the most unexpected find, not just of my trip to the flea market last Thursday but in quite a while. It's something that spans a gap of more than 40 years.
Everyone has someone they can point to as the one person who has had the biggest influence on their life; a mentor if you will.
My person of influence came into my life in 1976 when I was 15 years old. Marie Robinson was the wife of the new pastor at my church that year.
You can read about her overall effect on my life in my February 5, 2012 post. The specific subject of this post is her ventriloquist puppet; Henrietta.
This is a cropped picture of Henrietta the dog and Marie Robinson taken on January 31, 2012.
Now here's a shot of the stuffed animal I found at the flea market last Thursday.
One is a puppet and the other one is just your average everyday stuffed animal. These pictures don't really bring out the close similarity. But the two look so much alike that when I saw the "Little Henrietta" at the flea market I knew I had to have her.
The memories I have of the way "Miss Marie" ministered to both children and adults with the sassy brown canine puppet by her side are very special to me.
The prissy and proud pup was very genuine in saying and doing things that any "ordinary" kid would do. Her character and personality are the foundation of my approach to ventriloquism still today.
Every time I am giving a children's sermon or teaching a lesson in children's church, the influence of Marie and Henrietta lives just under the surface.
So now I have a reminder of my most important mentor. I will set Little Henrietta in a place on the shelf with my Ernie, Kermit, and Mr. Wiggle puppets. All are visual mementos in puppetry throughout my life so far.
I am so blessed to have found this stuffed animal. I don't have any idea how long it was sitting in the booth where I found it. I'm sure there are not very many other people would have ever noticed it.
I believe it's more than a coincidence that it was part of a cache of things I discovered last Thursday. That spontaneous trip to the flea market may not be something that will have a lasting effect on my life. But it's one that I will remember for quite a while.