Gasping for air, I then walked a few blocks with Andy to a local tavern called The Wood. This place is good sized, with a movie-screen TV, a nice wood bar, with booth and table seating. Just a few short months ago, I would have ordered a nice cold local microbrew, but now that I have the diabetes, I begrudgingly ordered a glass of ice water. I was able to take my mind away from the beer urge with a terrific dinner menu. I ordered a burger with Swiss cheese and grilled shrooms and a side of mixed veggies. I can't eat French fries any more. I also ordered some hot wings, which I shouldn't eat but I can only give up so much. Between the beer and the French fries, the wings were the least harmful.
Good thing I ordered those wings because they were AWESOME! They were better than any I've found so far living in Chicago's northern 'burbs these past three years. The burger was also tremendous -- thick, juicy and flavorful. I haven't stopped thinking about those wings and that burger for the past two days. Andy's a lucky dog to be able to walk over to that tavern everyday.
After we finished up our pub grub, we went for a ride around St. Louis. I've been to St. Louis many times but it's been quite a few years since I had a nice drive around the city. I forgot what a cool-looking place it is. St. Louis is older than Chicago and some streets have a Civil War era feel to them. Though some neighborhoods have some late 19th Century/early 20th Century bungalows and feel just like Chicago. Then there are some neighborhoods that feel European with Georgian-style architecture. We drove through the Budweiser Brewery complex, which is a large mix of buildings that look like they date from the 1880s up to the present time. St. Louis is a terrific town. It feels a lot like Chicago and Milwaukee with loads of taverns, old neighborhoods and Victorian factories and warehouses.
After a good night's sleep, I made it to the Two Hearts Banquet Hall around 8:15 a.m. It's about a 25-minute drive from Andy's place. Most of the dealers were already set up. I noticed a lot of Illinois license plates in the parking lot, though I was the only one from the Chicago area, the others were from Springfield and Champaign. Promoter Dave Jackson kindly placed me next to my friend Tony Schaefer of Monster Cards. Tony easily had the best selection of vintage cards in the room. He always has several cases of graded pre-war cards that are drool-worthy. Tony also has the most reasonable prices in the room. I walked around a few times and there were quite a few vintage dealers, many more than my last two visits to Two Hearts, but most seemed priced a bit high. I met a dealer from Northern Alabama who had both modern and vintage cards. I thought I had come the farthest to set up at this show, but the Alabama dealer told me he drove eight hours for the show.
I also noticed that nearly half the room was autographs, specifically Cardinals autographs. Though one guy showed me a Babe Ruth autographed 8X10 photo he picked up at one of the tables. The auto wasn't certified and I'm not so sure it was real. Ruth autos are counterfeited quite heavily. I also noticed quite a few tables with some random memorabilia like press pins, schedules, posters, regional photos and the like. One guy had boxes of oddball paper items but he was priced a bit high. In one box I found a 1993 Cubs pocket schedule priced at $2. I have stacks of those and when I bring them out, I sell them for a quarter a piece. High prices aside, there was a lot of cool and interesting stuff in the room. Meanwhile, out in the hallway, Willie Wilson was signing autos. Dave always gets an autograph guest or two at his shows.
Early on, Tony was pretty busy. His dollar bin got a heavy workout. He was also nice enough to send people over my way (Thanks Tony!). My first customer purchased some 1959 Topps commons. My next customer was an older guy with a pony tail and he bought some 1958 and 1962 Topps baseball commons. Then a customer picked up some 1956 Topps baseball commons. One of the great things about this show is there are a lot of set builders. I love seeing guys show up to my table with lists -- these are my people.
In addition to making some early sales, I was also sweating buckets. It was really hot in the room. The air conditioning finally kicked in around 10:30 a.m. Though, around noon, the air was off and it got hot again. I think I lost a few pounds today in that sweat box.
Anyway, sales were fairly steady. An older gentleman, who remembered me from my last St. Louis appearance in November, purchased quite a few 1970 and 1961 Topps commons. He was a real nice guy and said he has been looking for my table of binders since last fall and he was real glad I made the trip today. Several others remembered me from my previous two shows last fall. I also met quite a few new customers and everyone was so kind and welcoming that I felt right at home. One guy purchased some 69s. Another guy, one of the few younger guys in the room, purchased some '60 Topps. One of the few guys not wearing a Cardinals t-shirt bought some '67s. A guy who collects players who participated in the 1963 World Series, found quite a few in my 1964 Topps binder. A dad, walking around with his baby boy, pulled quite a few '68s. Ken, who I remember from my previous shows, found a '54 Bowman variation. Ken showed me his want list, which is one of the toughest I've ever seen. He collects all oddball and variation cards. Another customer picked up some 1957 Topps baseball commons. A guy wearing a Maine lobster t-shirt, purchased some '65s.
Then I had a nice conversation with a gentleman who told me that when he was a kid in 1963, he used to buy packs of Topps cards for a nickel a piece at the local Ben Franklin dime store. I grew up near a Ben Franklin, as well. The man told me about one day there were four packs left in the store and he bought all four packs. The result was four Lou Brocks. He said he pulled two from one pack.
My next customer purchased some 1954 Topps commons. Another customer combed through my 1960s books for players on the Kansas City A's. He told me that there is a Kansas City A's Historical Society in Kansas City and they are having a reunion this summer with a dozen or so former ball players. I had a customer purchase a 1956 Gus Bell. One of my more colorful customers was a guy clad in a St. Louis Blues shirt and hat, who purchased a nice pile of 1965 Topps commons along with some 1961 Fleer Greats of the Game. Another guy purchased my 1951 Bowman Bulldog Turner. He told me his father, who grew up in Central Illinois, is a big fan of the Chicago teams. As a kid in the 1930s, his dad was able to pick up Cubs games on the radio and regularly listened to games featuring those great teams with Gabby Hartnett, Hack Wilson, Charlie Grimm and the like. I then had a father and son duo purchase some 1975 Topps Minis. To round out my day, Tony S. purchased a pile of cards.
On the buying front, I didn't purchase anything. Nobody brought anything to my table. I think I need to do this show more often to get some walk-ins.
A couple of final notes about today's show. There was a guy who kept circling the room that looked a bit like Charlie Chaplin. He had some really odd mannerisms. Have you ever seen the Charlie Chaplin film where he sits down at his kitchen table and eats his shoe with a knife and fork? Well, I thought this guy was going to sit down at my table and eat his shoe or possibly some baseball cards. Though as the day wore on, I decided he was more like Inspector Crouseau. I think he may have even had a French accent. Good thing he didn't tumble into my table or something wacky.
Speaking of eating a shoe, I purchased some food today, something I didn't do during my previous visits to the show. I ordered a big ole hot dog. The only fixin' they had was one of those industrial pumps of mustard. When I pressed the pump, mustard splattered all over my shirt. So I kind of stunk like mustard all day and into the night. The food stand had several other food options that were unrecognizable to me. There was a definite cultural gap with the food because it was nothing like anything I have ever seen in Northern Illinois. I think there may have been grits and fried catfish. I think when I'm in St. Louis I need to stick with The Wood tavern in Maplewood for my meals. Did I say The Wood has awesome wings and burgers. Overall, a great weekend. I love St. Louis. What a terrific town. I really appreciate the kindness that everyone showed me today. I especially appreciate the purchases! THANK YOU!!
Next week, Orland and Gonzaga are on the same day. I hate to skip Orland but my sales are generally better at Gonzaga, plus the table fee is cheaper and there is nobody ushering me out of the room at 2 p.m. So I will be at Gonzaga on Sunday. I'll hit Orland at the end of the month. For next Sunday's show, I'm working on my 1979 Topps binder and plan on getting '56 Topps baseball done. If there is any time left, I'll also reload 1963 Topps football. I have been going a bit auction crazy lately, and have lot's of new cards. I hope to get some star cards priced and out in my cases at Gonzaga on Sunday. Former Packer Jerry Kramer will be signing autos on Sunday for $20. Eight-by-ten photos will be available to purchase at the show for $5. It should be a great show!! See you there!!!
Pictured below are a few photos taken while sitting in The Wood, along with some photos of the Budweiser brewery complex and photos of the show.