Mister Grocer’s

Philadelphia, PA – 1970

One chilly night I was in the VW minibus with my dad and my older sister. He decided to stop at a local convenience store on the way home on Rising Sun Avenue.

The shop was called Mister Grocers and it was an early convenience store. These types of stores would giveaway to later giants like 7-Eleven and Wawa. (Back then Wawa was a dairy farm. Incidentally, Wawa is the native American word for goose.)

I don’t remember why we stopped there but maybe he needed to pick up some cold cuts. My sister and I wandered around the store while he did what he had to do.

I came upon a rotating display rack full of little toys. The ones that caught my eye were these toy cars on little cards. I was checking them all out and they were really cute little cars. So for some reason unknown to me to this day, I stuck one in the pocket of my red baseball jacket.

It was the first time I had ever stolen anything. I don’t even know why I did it. I had plenty of little cars at home. It was almost as if this other power took over and compelled me to shoplift. It was definitely a compulsion. I think this may be a common thing in children that they eventually grow out of.

I remember sitting in the car on the way home and saying how I felt cold so I kept my hands stuffed in the pockets of my jacket. There was no reason for me to say that but I obviously wasn’t a good thief.

We made it home and I went up to my room to get ready for bed. I closed my bedroom door and took out the little car. I ripped open the package and looked at the toy. It was yellow, and not a color car I would have ever wanted, so maybe it was just the thrill of nicking it from the store. I have no idea. I placed the little car in a box among some other stuff in my room that sat on my radiator.

Gama Toys - Wikipedia

I went into the bathroom and got cleaned up for bed, and then headed back to my room. My mother was standing there holding the car and the ripped open package. Did I simply throw the package into the wicker wastebasket in my room? That’s very sloppy. I don’t remember. My room was full of all sorts of toys. How did my mom find this one thing that I just clipped tonight? ESP? I’ve never been able to solve this mystery.

The next thing I know, I’m sitting on the toilet seat and both of my parents are grilling me about where I got this little car. I lied and told them my friend Dave Archut gave it to me. Was this some kind of go-to lie I would use going forward? Probably not if it didn’t work.

It didn’t.

After a few minutes of intense interrogation, I cracked and told them that the package was already ripped in the store and I just took the little car from Mister Grocers.

It would have been awesome had it ended there with a stern scolding. But no… that would not be the order of the day. My mother and father left the room for a moment while I sat there having an anxiety attack on the toilet in my pajamas like a prisoner in the Gulag.

My mother returns with my jacket and slippers. It’s bedtime. We’re going in the wrong direction, mom. But apparently, we were going in the right direction. My father marched me downstairs and took me back out to the minibus and put me in it. I’m shivering as he proceeded to drive us back to Mister Grocers.

I’m terrified and nearly go into paralysis as we pull into the parking lot and there are two police cars parked there.

philadelphia police vehicles from 1969 | Police cars, Old police cars, Philadelphia

I see that, and I’m practically filling my pants in fear. My father tells me to go in with him and what I need to say to the clerk. We get out of the van and head into the store. I can’t believe the cops are on the case of the stolen car already! This is a serious offense. I’m in deep trouble. Grand theft auto? Juvenile Hall? Hard time?

My dad places the car in the ripped-open package in my hands. We walk up to the counter to the clerk behind the counter.

“Go ahead, son.”

“Sir, I took this. It doesn’t belong to me, and I’m sorry.”

Then my father tells me to go stand over there. Of course, I complied because there was no alternative but to obey. I was caught. Nabbed. No longer on the lam. My days of thievery were officially over.

He spoke with the man for a few minutes, and then we left. I don’t remember the conversation in the car on the way home, but I felt really bad but relieved I didn’t have to go with the police.

We never really spoke of it again, but it was a lesson well learned. My days of shoplifting and thinking I could get away with it had begun and ended on the same day.

Philadelphia, PA – 1978

I was 16 years old and shooting pool in my basement with a few of my buddies one evening. I’m sure my buddy Michael Mitchell was there, but I can’t remember who else. Maybe my friend from school Hugh Deissinger. (Yea, we had a pool table) I remember by then, my dad was working at a bank at the shore now and only came home on the weekends. Life was good, and it was a typical Friday night. My dad was cool with us listening to our records on his stereo, and the sounds of Aerosmith, Boston, Kansas, Foreigner, The Cars, ELO, and Peter Frampton filled the air.

My pop had an old wooden desk in the corner where he used to write out the bills and do his thing. That desk and its contents were completely off-limits to us kids because it was all dad/work stuff inside. We had no business touching anything in that desk. I remember going over to it to look for a pen or pencil to write something down that we were talking about.

I pulled open one of the drawers and there was the little toy car from my childhood crimewave days. I pulled it out and held it in my hands for the first time since the night I stole it. Did I have a moment of nostalgic wonder? No, I felt only revulsion for the object because of what it represented.

I told my friends the whole story that I just told you, and they all laughed. I felt better about the whole thing. My dad had paid for it that night back in 1970 to make things right. He righted my wrong with Mister Grocers but never let me have the stolen toy as part of my punishment. I get that, and it was the right thing to do. I didn’t deserve the spoils of my wicked handiwork.

He later told me that when we pulled up to the convenience store that night to return the stolen property, the police cars were there by pure chance. Just a couple of Philly’s finest grabbing a donut and a cup of coffee on the night shift. But he never said anything about it to me to further drive home his point. You steal stuff, the cops can come and haul you off to jail.

Well played, dad. Well played.

But what became of the little toy car?

That night that I accidentally found it and told the guys about it, was to be its final appearance. I took it from its package and placed it on the pool table. We then proceeded to blast billiard balls into it until it was smashed to bits.

I never said anything else about it and my dad never asked. I’m sure by then he’d forgotten about the little car in the drawer, but I’m sure not the incident.

Don’t take things that don’t belong to you!

 

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My Family – Down the Shore with Trains! – Part 3

Cabinets are loaded in and everybody is pretty drained from this day. Zane and Blair go out to meet with friends for a tour of a local brewery.

Now it’s time to talk turkey. The brothers come back in and we’re back to negotiating product. We go back and forth on several pieces and it appears they are interested in more than what we initially thought.

They go back upstairs and look over the sets up there and we slowly wear them down. It’s become somewhat of a feeding frenzy. They start snapping up sets and we’re prepared to let them go for the fair prices.

These guys are hardcore collectors and I suspect dealers. They know they’re getting good collectibles and we really don’t want the trains. So it could all work.

In yesterday’s blog I had a picture of the Texas Special. In sales you don’t talk about numbers or rarity, but the value of the object you’re selling. Sell the value and you’ll get the right price.

But most important thing is to tell the story. People don’t think in facts and figures and dollars and cents. But in desire and the story. It’s not what you said or what you did. It’s how you made people feel. That’s my strong suit. I’m telling stories the whole time they’ve been here. If they feel the heart and love and memories that are in these trains with this family, no matter how bad they want them, they won’t be able to rip us off.

They wouldn’t do that anyway, but once they feel the stories and the rich family histories in these antiquities it gives them more value and the buyer will feel the loss of the seller when he acquires it, so he may be more fair in his price.

My partner Achilles always says “Make it easy for people to spend their money. Don’t be greedy.”

We’re really excited that this final piece is falling into place today. They’re making offers and we’re adding up the dollars.

When we are separated from our buyers I can see how excited Janice is about these transactions. I stay calm from my years of selling things. I’m not going to get happy until the contract is signed and the deal is finalized.

This could be our last shot with these whales. I don’t really want to leave any money on the table. I’d like to move everything if we can.

It’s like an elegant dance between my sister and I and two fat guys. We’re going to win this contest.

By the end of an exhausting day, this entire lot of trains has been negotiated, sold, wrapped and put into boxes.

Yes. They bought everything. Did we throw in a few freebies? Sure we did, but that sweetened the deal and we didn’t want that stuff anyway.

We were all sitting around the empty dining room table and they were counting out one hundred-dollar bills to us. It was like a huge drug deal. Big unmarked van outside and piles of cash on the table. It was glorious but I had to stay cool until they left.

I was extremely pleased with my take, and Jan was too. She offered them a couple of beers and we all had a sweet repose. The deal was done and now we just needed to get them off the property. She offered to buy them some sandwiches at the local market but I kind of wanted the clients gone once I had closed them.

Rob said he wanted to get back on the road and they had a long drive back to Maryland.

Then it got weird.

Somebody was talking about how they had a swimming pool. Then somebody else brought up the story of a little girl who had recently drowned in pool and was dead for over 20 minutes. (I know right?) Apparently there is some new procedure where they do som esort of cryo thing to the brain cells and it preserves and revives the brain and they brought her back to life and she has full mobility and is completely fine. A miracle of modern science. Janice even says this could be a breakthrough for victims of stroke.

Then Rob starts saying that we have all of this amazing technology because of aliens.

Wait…what?

“Yea. All of this technology we have is because the military and the Government has been working with aliens. That’s when the President says we can incinerate North Korea it’s because of alien technology like laser beams and shit.”

WTF? I can’t even look over at my sister at this point because I know we’ll lose our shit and there is thousands of dollars in cash just sitting on the dining room table.

Ray chimes in: “The Navy has been working with aliens for years. The aliens were like 9 feet tall, wore sunglasses and had white hair. No one was allowed to tak to them. I saw it on YouTube.”

Wait…what? Is this really happening? I can hang with any wacko. I’ll play along.

“Yea, the Minister of Defense in Canada admitted that they’ve been working with aliens for years. Someone that high up wouldn’t say something like that to Parliament if it weren’t true. I saw it on YouTube. He even say that there are different kind of aliens. There’s like ones that are nice and then there’s bad guys too.”

“Okay…okay.” (I gotta hold it together. We’re so close!)

“Stephen Hawking even admitted it but he doesn’t think the aliens should talk to us.”

“Right, because if they have greater technology it could ruin our culture like it has on this planet with our own civilizations.” I say.

“Right. There are so many planets and stars out there must be other beings out there.”

I actually agree with him about that, but everything he said before that is absolutely bonkers.

Still not looking over at Janice.

“Well guys, I’m with you on all of that and I used to be a card-carrying member of MUFON.”

“What’s that?”

“You don’t know? The Mutual UFO Network. I was a member for years. I even have a manual that instructs you what to do if there’s an invasion.”

(I’m not lying. I’ve read just about everything on the subject of UFO’s, aliens, Roswell, Area 51, back engineering exotic propulsion systems, bending time and space, abductions, SETI, and the work being at the JPL. Oh, and I really was a member of MUFON and have attended conventions. I know it ALL. They don’t know what I know. So as insane as this turn of events has been I know a great deal about this subject. I’ll write about it sometime.)

We wrap it up on that note and walk them out to their spacecraft, er… I mean rented van. I look up and down our street to see if  Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are parked in a black sedan somewhere.

They say goodbye and tell us we are always welcome to come and visit and hang whenever we’re in DC.  I’m sure Janice and I would be happy to swing by in a flying saucer and beam ourselves down for a barbecue.

The boys leave and Janice and I are laughing our asses off but are giddy that we made a pile of cash and got rid of the things we no longer need.

“They bought EVERYTHING!” She kept repeating until it sunk in. We were giddy with the way this surreal day turned out but now it was time for more important matters.

Drive to Bubba’s Liquors and get some wine and beer and order some delicious cheese steaks for dinner.

Zane and Blair returned later with another couple. (I love to see young good-looking people out having fun in Wildwood. Nostalgia for my sweet days on this sandy stage!)

We told them what happened and they all laughed histerically.

May The Force Be With You!

We have to get to the bank Monday!

Thank you for everything Janice! I feel closer to my big sister than ever in my life. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done for me and this family that continues to live on through love, laughter and just being the Gang!

All Aboard!

 

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My Family – Down the Shore with Trains! – Part 2

(Pictured above: The Texas Special. First present my mother bought my dad as a married couple.)

The guys pull into the driveway behind my rental in a huge ford transport van.  Well at least they’re serious about getting those train cabinets.

I’ve got two tables full of sets of trains and passenger cars that I still haven’t moved. I’m just hoping to help my sister and lend a hand. Maybe if they buy a few sets I’ll walk out of here with $300 to $500 tops.

I remember these guys. They were so nice and spent some serious dollars with us at the show in York, so I’m hopeful at this point. We all exchange pleasantries and then it’s down to business.

We’ll call these guys Ray and Rob. Ray is the guy who works for the SEC. He’s a little slovenly but extremely sweet and affable. His hair a brown tussle around his face, bespectacled and what could be described as a mushy pasty frame.

His brother Rob I a bigger man. The Contactor. Short brown hair, square face and a more robust frame. You could walk past these guys in a diner and never notice them.

But today we are front and center for our finale performance with them. They’re in our house now, and are sadly outnumbered.

Ray wants to see the trains and the cabinets. I take him upstairs and his brother Rob follows. In the front bedroom I’ve laid out most of my post war O’ gauge trains. There are other things downstairs on another table that they also liked at the show but didn’t buy.

Within minutes they are picking up the trains and looking at them. I go and get my sister for support. I can sell, but she knows trains and prices better than I do.

It doesn’t take long for them to start making offers on some of my stuff. I’m a bit surprised but just go with it. Janice is nodding and giving me the green light on some of the prices they’re offering.

Things are moving quickly, and I can smell the blood in the water and turn on my charm. I’m opening the relationship with them and telling the stories behind these trains that I remember from my youth with my father. It’s an easy role to play because not only did I live it, it’s all true.

Janice, ever the organized teacher, mother and wife, grabs a piece of paper and starts making notes of the offers.

Gotta love her.

We take a break but I can feel the chum in the water and the feeding has begun. We’ll land these fish today. I’ve got a good feeling about this.

We take a break to give them a moment to breathe and look at some more of the things on the table downstairs. They remember some of those pieces and remember their desire for them at the show.  I now believe they’ve come for the things they missed a chance to buy at the show.

Janice is scrawling notes on her paper, bless her mathematical heart. They’re interested in a few of the pieces she has on the table too. I’m glad she’s writing all of the offers because I won’t remember them, I’m in full on, fatal charm sales mode and I love it.

Forget my two days of stomach disorders, the four-hour drive down here, my growling stomach, I’m swimming hard and the dorsal fin is cutting through the water towards these plump baby seals.

We step away from the table for a moment to examine and measure the four cabinets. That’s fine. The trains are all sitting out in their glory, ready for the taking. We’re already over a thousand dollars for the moment.

Based on the space in Ray’s home and the size of the cabinets he thinks he can only take two.

Janice’s son, Zane and the boys start unbolting them from the walls and I offer what help I can.  His girlfriend, Blair is offering advice on how to best angle and move the units without breaking them or shattering the glass. She doesn’t say much but when she offers a different strategy it always seems to work. I’m just trying not to get crushed by one of the cabinets falling down the stairs.

I’m too valuable to lose in a careless accident, who’ll close this deal in a grand way and more important document it on phicklephilly?

Janice is there literally clearing the way as they move them out, tossing tables, bookcases and furniture in her wake. It’s a consorted effort and we’re getting it down. Big Rob is the main muscle but Zane has got youth, control and power and he’s a valuable asset to the team.

It’s a little surreal to be in the house that once belonged to my parents for so many years. Other than his kids and his books, his trains were his true love since he was a boy. He built a giant toy railroad in the attic. A museum worthy layout.

I remember how it started. back in the 90’s when the grandchildren were young he built a little circle of train tracks in the corner of our massive attic that was the entire legnth of the improvements. Knowing my father and how he never went cheap or small on anything I knew this little “O” layout would maybe grow.

One day I was in the attic with him, I said to him, “Look at all of the space up here. Aren’t you going to build a giant platform and eventually have all of these train routes running all over the place and the trains will go all the way down to the end around the stairway and loop back up here to the front?”

He just smiled… that sly look of his. His eyes twinkled like Santa Claus. “We’ll see.”

I knew from his history, that it could possibly come to fruition and it did. He built entire towns with people, houses, businesses, cars and most of the trains ran through all of them. It was massive and took up the entire attic. I’ve never seen anything like it. He finally had his own little world where he was the ruler of all of the things he loved that could never fail, betray or hurt him. Just like me with music.

“It’s the only world I can control.” He said.

The custom cabinets he had built to display his treasures. He finally had all the artifacts from his dreams and childhood that he missed so much.

But now they were empty. All of his beautiful treasured toys gone. Not gone like him, but in the hands of new people who will love them again. Dad was only gone in the physical sense. He and Mom still are very much alive in me and my sisters in our words, deeds, memories and laughter.

Now the cabinets were being removed by strangers. It felt a little strange after the collection being such a fixture of this house and his life for so long.

Just empty walls now.

But rich with memories.

Janice and I and my other sisters aren’t going to play with the trains. Our children have no interest in them and live in a world of exotic technology that is far more fascinating than seeing a little steam engine puff around in a circle on the floor. But I’m sure Janice will alway have a train running around her Christmas tree.

The brothers and Zane finally get the two cabinets into their van and return to the house for a cold beverage and to finalize whatever pieces we’re going to sell them today for a fair price.

My sister and I have thought long and hard about this. It’s too many trains. The sets that have real intrinsic value will never be seen except by family and close friends. But we have come to the conclusion that we should put these trains into the hands of the people who will love them and they will continue to live in the hearts and minds of those people now.

We came to this hard realization together on Day 2 at the York show. We just have to muster the courage to do it again today and wrap this up with these guys for good.

It’s been a difficult journey for the family but we’ll get through it together.

 

 

 

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My Family – Train Show in York, PA – Saturday

I saw this one woman who was easily over 300 pounds. She was walking by and she didn’t even look human. How does one get like that? How does one maintain that kind of weight? What does that do to your skeleton? She looked like an unmoored zeppelin. Then there was this other fat guy that almost ran someone over as he sped by on his rascal. Speeding and on his cell phone? Security should have hopped on their battery carts and chased him down until they could pull him over and give him two tickets!

Saturday was the final day of the show. I pack up my gear and head to the elevator. I get in and hit the button for the lobby. I hear giggling approaching and a dainty hand grabs the door before it closes. Seven teenage girls that appear to be on some sort of sports team all squeeze into the elevator with me. They’re all attractive and fit so maybe this is a sign that today will be a good day.

Janice arrives a few moments later in the lobby and we check out. We head over to the fairgrounds and I’m relieved that this is the final day. I’ve made a couple of grand here already and hope to close out strong today.

We get to the hall and go to our tables. We grab some breakfast sandwiches and chat. Today the show ends around 4pm. I suppose it’s so people can break down all of their stuff and get home at a reasonable hour. It’s a massive show and I’m sure there will be folks here into the night. Speaking of “massive” I am appalled at how many people are overweight and out of shape at this show.

I saw this one woman who was easily over 300 pounds. She was walking by and she didn’t even look human. How does one get like that? How does one maintain that kind of weight? What does that do to your skeleton? She looked like an unmoored zeppelin. Then there was this other fat guy that almost ran someone over as he sped by on his rascal. Speeding and on his cell phone? Security should have hopped on their battery carts and chased him down until they could pull him over and give him two tickets!

After breakfast I headed to the Men’s room because, well, middle age. You eat in the morning the digestive system kicks in. But my God, I’m in the stall and the place is full of dudes in the other stalls,  I kid you not. The place smelled horrible and it sounded like a high school marching band warming up in there. Or think of a guy with Parkinson’s disease trying to unload a set of drums from the back of a van. It was that bad in there! I got back to our table as fast as I could.

“Hey, Jan…What if we wrapped up a train in paper and simply called the package, Mystery Train?”

“You’re crazy. We’re not doing that.”

I have noticed something during this whole experience. On day one we were full of piss and vinegar thinking we had the greatest antique train collection around. We had price tags on everything and knew that dad’s stuff was all nice and worth every penny of what we were asking. But we’re at the biggest train show on the east coast right now. There are thousands and thousands of trains and collectors here. We sold a couple of things day one, but it’s a huge event and it takes a couple of days for people to see everything. These are toy train collectors. They know what stuff is worth. Yo, on the other hand, always think your stuff is worth top dollar. By day two I told Janice to remove the price tags.

“We can’t do that. Everything has to be marked.”

“Okay, then how about we just move the price tags to the bottom of the trains. The tags are still on them but they have to ask. That shows interest. It also opens the conversation and creates a dialogue so that I can sell them.”

I’ve worked in sales my whole life. It should work. Also by day two we started to feel a little desperate. Sure that train set is worth $1200 in its present condition. But to whom? My dad? He’s dead. We should probably negotiate the prices a bit.

“But…”

“Do you want to haul all of this shit back to the house with empty pockets or do you want to liquidate these assets?

“You’re right.”

“Let’s blow out some fucking trains!”

And blast them out we did. My father left us with one important rule when it came to selling trains: Sell only complete sets. (That means engine, tender and the cars.) But there was a moment on day two when we had a flurry of sales and after the dust settled we both looked at each other realizing we had broken up some sets and only sold engines and tenders and left behind a bunch of cars.

I raised my hands up to my face. “Janice…I think we just did some very bad things.”

“I know… We broke dad’s cardinal rule.”

But here’s the great part. We ended up breaking up some sets. But we actually sold off all the cars that had been left behind by the end of the show! So the “crimes against toys” that we committed had some how been righted by the gods!

I’m not going to collect trains. My daughter doesn’t want them. If someone offers me $350 for something that I don’t want and have absolutely no use for, they should have it. Maybe we think about not selling the trains but putting these beautiful toys into the hands and homes of the people who really will love them. Sounds like a wonderful Christmas story to me. That’s how we’ll live with ourselves for what we’ve done.

So we blow out more sets of trains today. We had one guy from New York walk away carrying four boxes full of our trains. My pockets were bulging with cash. We had guys we chatted with that were really wonderful people. We’d see them everyday. They loved trains and had lots of money. We discussed some post war O gauge stuff we had at the house. They were very interested in those pieces as well as the cabinets in the house my father had custom-built to house all of these beautiful sets of trains. These guys were serious collectors with houses full of goodies.

Put them in the hands of those who love them so that they can continue to live on and bring joy to people. They won’t be just all in a box somewhere like ashes in the ground. They will continue be immortal. Just like our father’s memory in all of our hearts and minds. He won’t ever really be gone until the black wings of death scatter our days.

We came here with 31 sets of trains and we’re only leaving with 13. That’s a pretty good haul. But the best part of this entire three-day odyssey was the time with my sister. She’s been wonderful and we’re really good travel buddies. It’s rare when you grow up together, then you both go off and live your lives. She goes off to college, and I go off to L.A. to play rock. She gets married and you get married. You live in different places and maybe only see each other once or twice a year at the holidays. You have your own lives and friends and children just like most people do. But then there is a death in the family. That tragedy brings you all back together. Well. I suppose I shouldn’t call it a tragedy. Death becomes us all.

But there is an event like this where you are called upon by your closest sibling to come to her aid thirty-five years later and you both get in a car and travel somewhere and sell a bunch of trains. You’re with that person all day for three days. You eat together, hang out, and laugh your asses off like you’re both back in high school again. Those three days with Janice in York were some of the very best days of 2017.

We say goodbye to Lenny and his lovely wife and I load what’s left of our stuff back into the SUV. We drive back to Philly, both a bit richer. Not by the Benjamins in our wallets but with love in our hearts.

Can’t wait to get home to my beloved city!

 

 

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My Family – Train Show in York, PA – Friday – Part 2

I’m thinking my sister Janice is like my dad at York and I’m more like his brother Jack. Jack was my uncle. They used to come here every year when they were both alive. Janice knows a lot about the trains and eats well. She’s brought her own healthy food and sandwiches, etc. I’m like Jack, eating trash food all day and drinking booze. Plus, I’m the funny one like my uncle was.

I sell an orange 256 to a really nice guy named Forrest for $400. He’ been a return client and we love that.  Bo cruises over to look at our trains again. He works his shit again and says we’ve already sold everything he wanted. The odd thing is a guy named Vince came over and bought all those trains that Bo had his eye on. Now I’m thinking Vince was one of Bo’s minions and Bo got exactly what he wanted at the price he wanted it for. He takes me over to show me his 10 tables of stuff. It all looks pretty lame to me but I don’t really know what half the stuff is worth I’m looking at.

Back at our table I’m thinking my sister Janice is like my dad at York and I’m more like his brother Jack. Jack was my uncle. They used to come here every year when they were both alive. Janice knows a lot about the trains and eats well. She’s brought her own healthy food and sandwiches, etc. I’m like Jack, eating trash food all day and drinking booze. Plus, I’m the funny one like my uncle was.

One irony was I met a guy who is with his son from Long Island. It’s the son that like pre-war O guage and it’s the son that got his dad into trains and found out about this annual show here at York. I’m not saying there’s hope for the train collecting market. It’s that a kid got his pop into trains and not the other way around.

I go outside to smoke a cig I meet a black woman and light her cig for her. Her name’s Barbara, and she tells me she works all of the events at this place all summer just for fun and extra cash. She said she likes that when there are concerts out here she gets to see all of the acts for free.  She also goes on to say she gets a widow’s pension of $2000 a month.

“I’m sorry.”

“Worth it for all he put me through.”

Then I run into Forrest and his father and son. Three generations standing right in front of me. I tell him how it must be good luck that I keep running into him, because he keeps buying stuff from us. He tells me a story about how he was once in Korea and he saw a beautiful model sailboat in the window of a shop. He went in and inquired about the ship. The merchant told him $100. He told him thanks anyway, but he had to catch a train and go to the airport. But there is an old korean superstition that if the first sale of the week is on Monday, you’ll have good luck the rest of the week. So the guy is chasing him all around the store trying to sell the boat to him.

“No. It won’t fit on the plane. I have to catch a train. No, thanks.”

“Ok. $20.”

Cut to: Forrest sitting on the plane back to the US with a big model sailboat on his lap.

Forrest also collects fans. Actual plug-in fans to keep a room cool. Those kinds of fans. He shows me photos in his phone of his fan collection.

“You should say to people, Hey, wanna see a picture of my Fan Club?”

We all laugh and head back inside. He looks at the Hiawatha. “$500? I’ll sleep on it.”

He also looked at a little silver streamlined train, and walked away from it. “I’ll sleep on it.”

Later his son came back and bought it himself! We gave him a junior collector discount. We love these guys and find out that they’re staying at the same hotel we are. They go off and tour the show some more.

But then we later realize as we’re shutting down our table that we forgot to give Forrest the boxes that go with the trains he bought from us. But that gives me an excuse to go to the front desk and talk to hot Angelica again!

When we do finally get back to the hotel, I scamper up to the front desk and tell Angelica my plight with the boxes. She tells me she’ll call Forrest and let them know we left them for him.

I head up to my room for a cocktail and some Nat Geo on the tube.

An hour later Janice is at my door ready to go to dinner. Tonight we decide to dine out at this little hick diner at the foot of the hill. I love a good diner and Jan tells me this is where dad and Jack would always eat, so it must be good. I earned more in sales today than Janice so the rule we made up is, winner buys dinner. So I order a steak and we have a lovely and lively dinner.

Later on I’m up in my room having a nightcap and decide that after this episode of dateline, I’m going downstairs for one smoke and then off to bed. Downstairs I walk through the lobby and out the front door. I smoke my cig and there’s just one drunk guy out there. He doesn’t say much because he is more than half in the bag. I walk back in and check out the snack bar.

“Hey!”

It’s Angelica! We start chit chatting and I’m loving her. She’s going to school to be a police officer. I’d love her to snap the cuffs on my and take me in for some rough interrogation. She could strip search me anytime. But I digress. She also tells me her fiance wants to open a fitness center. I tell her about the salon and how we’re putting a gym in it. She likes that story and then I go into the real reason we’re here in York. She finds the story touching and listens intently. I tell her she has been one of the high points of this trip for me. (Not really, but what can I say, I’m charming.)

“Take my picture so you’ll remember me.”

Done.

What a sweet beauty right? You are looking at the hottest girl I’ve seen in this God forsaken town the entire time I’ve been here. Now I can go back upstairs to more dateline, a drink and then off to bed. It’s been another wonderful day.

 

 

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