When I was a kid, he'd take me to a card shop or a card show, which was always great. Unfortunately, he'd never take me home afterwards. He'd take me to his office in Downtown Chicago. He‘d work and I'd have to sit around for hours. By the time I got home, I was already sick of looking at my new cards. Today, he hung around the show for a few hours. I figured he went home afterwards, but now that I think about it, I'm wondering if he went into work. At age 75, he still works 40-plus hours a week and doesn't mind going in on a Sunday afternoon.
My pops has been working in Downtown Chicago since 1962. Before then, he was a vendor at both Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field for five or six years. He worked the 1959 World Series at Comiskey Park. His first job was in 1953 at a now defunct department store in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, where he grew up. He also spent Sundays during the 1950s with a stand selling junk from my great-grandfather's hardware store at the famous Maxwell Street Market on Chicago's West Side.
The Maxwell Street Market was founded in the late 1800s by Russian-Jewish immigrants and was America's first open-air market. It was essentially the first flea market in the USA. It’s also the place where the Chicago-style hot dog was perfected. Most importantly, in my book, Maxwell Street was the place where the electric blues was created. Blues greats like Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon got their start on Maxwell Street. Before these guys started showing up with guitars on Maxwell Street, blues music was largely acoustic. Muddy and Willie were playing songs and trying to earn some tips on Maxwell Street when they figured out that they could draw a crowd if the music was amplified. Thus, the electric blues was born. These guys were a tremendous influence on blues and rock music the world over. I think it is safe to say that there would be no Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton if there wasn't a Maxwell Street. I've always been fascinated by this little street in Chicago. The Maxwell Street Market still exists but it is barely a shell of its former self. Former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley moved the market and turned the area over to the University of Illinois at Chicago, who took a bulldozer to this amazing piece of American history.
When I was five years old (1971), my dad took me to buy my first baseball mit at Morrie Mages Sportings Goods Store at Ohio and LaSalle streets in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Morrie Mages got his start selling sporting goods on Maxwell Street and his store was the first sporting goods store in the country. The original Morrie Mages is now a Sportsmart.
My dad first learned the art of negotiation on Maxwell Street. He has honed those skills these past 50 years as a lawyer and a judge in Chicago. I forgot to warn the dealers at the show that he was coming and expect to get hammered. Luckily, the guys took him in stride and enjoyed his tales. As an attorney, he represented quite a few professional athletes like Joe DiMaggio and Ernie Banks and has some great stories. Today at the show, my dad picked up a bunch of autographs from Willie along with some stuff from Bill. Thanks guys for working with him and giving him a nice deal! We had dinner that night and he had already started placing some of the autographs in frames.
Prior to my dad showing up, I, of course, partook in the breakfast buffet at the Embassy Suites. This time, I had the chef whip me up some eggs, over-easy. The chef will make you an omelet or eggs any way you like it. I also took five or six sausages, some bacon, some fruit, a Danish, and a couple of cups of coffee. I think I got my 12 bucks worth. Even though this is only my second time at the Embassy Suites, it is now my favorite venue for a show, thanks to the breakfast buffet.
After stuffing my face and hanging out with my dad, I actually sold some cards. A regular pulled some stuff from my dime box and 50-cent box. Another regular purchased some 1975 and 1976 Topps football. Bob picked up some 1959s. Chuck pulled some 1962 Post. A regular pulled some 1962 Topps. A new customer pulled some 1958 White Sox cards. Another new customer was quite pleased that I had a 1960 Topps Sam Esposito. Kyle’s pop pulled some cards from my dollar box, along with some 1955s.
Larry B. and I did our usual trade and cash deal. Larry picked out some 1952 Topps today. I promised to bring Larry some 1938 Our National Game tabs, some Johnston Cookies, and some 1968 Topps posters next week. I also told Chuck I’d organize some 1964 Topps coins. I’m writing this stuff here in the hopes I’ll read this before Sunday and remember to bring these items out. At age 45, my hair is thinning, my belly is growing and my memory is going fast. At this rate, I don’t see how I’m going to make it to 75, like my dad. Willie rounded out my day, as he usually does, with a purchase of a nice stack of cards to send out for signatures. Today he picked up some 1965s.
On the buying front, I picked up some 1963 Fleers baseball. I also got a stack of Moose Skowrons from an autograph hound who had planned to send the cards out to Moose. Unfortunately, Moose died recently, so he brought me the cards. I noticed that Bill had some really cool pre-war cards and some cool post-war oddball stuff like Dixie Lids in his display case. Larry picked up Bill’s Warren Spahn Dixie Lid. Corky also has some Dixie Lids in his display case. I love the Dixie Lids. I’ve had a few of them over the years. I currently don’t have any – they’re great sellers for me when I do have them.
Next week, I’ve decided to set up in Bloomingdale, Illinois, at the Indian Lakes Resort. I’m working on 1966 Philadelphia football for the show. I know Bill’s going to be there. Between us, and several other dealers, we have a tremendous selection of vintage cards. Anyone, working on some sets should strongly consider heading out to the Bloomingdale show on Sunday. It should be a great show!! See you there!!!!
I forgot to take a photo of my dad at the show so I'm posting an old family photo, below, from 1980. We took this photo at an amusement park located somewhere in Oklahoma. I don't remember the name of the place. In this photo, left to right, is my maw, paw, me and my brother Jon, who is now taller than me and outweighs me by a good 50 pounds.