So here we are on day one of this journey and we haven’t sold anything yet. We know our product is good but we haven’t had any offers yet. But I’ve noticed that every time I leave the table to go to the bathroom or get something to eat or smoke a cig, a bunch of old dudes swarm our tables.
“Janice, I notice whenever I leave the table, a bunch of old guys come prowling around looking at the trains and chatting with you.”
“Well maybe tomorrow we raise the hem on your skirt, or maybe put on a little lipstick, or open another button…”
“Are you pimping me out?”
“Do you want to sell these trains, or have to pack them all up and cart them back to the shore house?”
By this time she is laughing hysterically to the point of crying. I’ve always been able to make my family laugh and today is no different.
I’m learning more about toy trains than I ever knew before. One guy told me that the new toy trains have loads of electronics in them, so they’re nearly impossible to repair if something fails in the unit. In the old days, you could open the toy and repair the mechanics in a simple way.
During the afternoon this black guy stops by and checks out our trains. He’s especially taken by this set of Marx we have. It’s really a cute set of trains. It’s all in the original box. It even has the transformer and track. He tells me about when he was growing up the only toy trains his parents could afford were Marx. The Lionel and American Flyer were too expensive.
Now I get it. That’s why there are hardly any black people here at the this gigantic train show. African-Americans couldn’t afford train sets for their kids because they were too expensive. And when these toys were built black people didn’t have the opportunities they do now. They couldn’t justify spending $50 on a toy for their kid when they could get him five decent toys for them for that price. The Marx train sets were more affordable back then so that’s what they bought.
There are a lot of characters at York. This one particularly notorious one is a guy named Bo. He’s really rich and has tons of trains. He’s got like ten tables here at the show! He plays it like he doesn’t know stuff but he’s super shrewd and can’t be trusted. He comes over and looks at all of our trains and sees what he likes but acts like he’s unwilling to pay that much for any given train set. He’s knows exactly what they’re worth. He’s been in the business of train collecting for decades. My dad didn’t like him and neither does Janice. I think they just didn’t trust the guy. He just seems full of himself. Sort of a blowhard.
He starts telling me how much he liked my father and all to get into my good graces. He starts telling me a story about a friend who in 1975 bought a beautiful lithograph for $700. He later sold it for $2500 a few years later, but I guess missed owning it so he bought it back for $2700. Then Bo buys it from him for $3200 and decides to hold onto it for a while. Then many years later he sells it to some Wall Street broker, for $25,000!
I reckon he’s a guy who when he isn’t talking about himself, and trying to swindle trains away from hapless sellers, he likes to tell stories that involve money.
He continues to tell me he arrived earlier in the week and hung out with some of his friends. He said apparently one of his cronies, a guy that was around 70 had a stent near his heart. Apparently Bo doesn’t know what a stent is because he’s describing it to me and he’s getting it completely wrong.
The guy didn’t tell anybody he had a stent, and he went to dinner with Bo and the boys on Monday and after that the stent collapses and the dude dropped dead. Not really a good opening story when you meet someone for the first time.
Bo goes back to whatever hole he slivered out of, or maybe just back to his 10 tables full of trains. Some other guy (One of the good guys) comes over and puts his arm around Janice and says “Bo won’t try to steal from you, but he can be a ruthless wheeler-dealer. So beware.”
Janice knows Bo is a snake in the grass that will find a way to get what he wants at this show, but we’ll do what we can to fend him off.
Like I said before, there are several other halls on site that are full of dealers and trains, but for some reason they all close at 5pm, but the one we’re in stays open until 6pm. So once 5pm arrives, our hall is flooded with people from the other halls.
We get a sudden flurry of activity and start blowing out sets of trains. The blood scent is in the air, and people are giving us fistfuls of cold hard cash. It’s the strong close we desperately needed at the end of a somewhat abysmal first day out here.
We wrap it all up at 6pm and drive back to the hotel. I notice there’s a hot Puerto Rican girl working the front desk. All of the people who I’ve seen here looks so awful and old and fat, that she is a site for my sore phicklephilly eyes. She’s the first attractive woman I’ve seen all day. (Except for my sister because I know she’s going to read this!)
We check in and I see our hotel has a bar and grill so that’s clutch. We go to our respective rooms and we agree to freshen up and meet in an hour for dinner. Being on my feet and selling has taken a toll on me and I need to just chill for a bit.
My room is beautiful. Cool air conditioning is on and the room is tight. King sized bed, clean bathroom, and flat screen TV. I get a bucket of ice down the hall and fix myself a vodka club. I don’t have cable and don’t watch TV really, so I enjoy watching Nat Geo for an hour while I unwind and sip.
In a while I change and head downstairs to dinner with sis. We hit the hotel dining room. Food was okay. Janice said her asparagus were cold. We had some really great conversations about dad. It was all very heartfelt and I know the only person in the world that could fulfill this mission with me is my closest blood relative sitting across from me. I really admire Jan so much. More than she knows. She’s been through so much pain in this final odyssey, and hopefully this will give us all some more closure in the wake of our father’s death. As guilty as we both feel selling off his beloved collectibles, we know they were HIS trains. He loved them. We kept what we loved, but there is just so much, it’s just a part of the estate that should be put in the hands of the living who love these trains. So maybe these toys actually get a second life.
It doesn’t matter what we ate or drank, it’s the time spent together and the words exchanged and the feelings felt and the shared experience of this one of a kind journey that will mark me forever.
After dinner we step outside of the hotel lobby and I have a smoke. Some Kenny Rogers type dude is just standing out there playing guitar. Where the hell am I? I miss the city. I can’t be away from Philly for very long. I need to get through this and get back to my city soon.
What was strange, was when we first came out here we noticed that the lobby was full of about 60 Asian people. I have no idea where they came from or why they were all camped out in the lobby. Maybe there was some other convention going on in town, but there was a busload of them in the lobby.
Jan heads up to her room for the night. I tell her I’m going to linger at the snack bar to check it out. I see the latin beauty is still working. She smiles at me and says hello. I need this. I don’t give a shit about the snacks. She’s a snack to me. I interact with lovely women everyday in Philly. In this wasteland of ugly I need a little fix before bed.
I introduce myself and she tells me her name is Angelica. (Of course it is. She’s an angel!) She says she’s only been working at the hotel for four days! I tell her that it was a wonderful hire on the part of the hotel. Angelica is like an ice-cold beer on a hot day in this godforsaken place.
At this point I wish she could give me some room service.
After some small talk with baby, I retire to my room because I’m a gentleman.
Tomorrow is another day of selling!
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