I was last in Darien in 1985 when my first college roommate hosted a massive keg party at his childhood home while his parents were in Europe for the summer. Three bands played in the basement. It was a rager… until the police came and broke it up.
Anytime I hear anything about the town of Darien, I always think of that keg party back in ‘85. Back to the present, I had June 10 open, so I booked the show at the Perfect Swing, excited to return to Darien after all these years, as my vice is no longer beer, instead, it is sports cards... which has greatly reduced my number of hangovers.
Upon my return, I was a little curious about the town which I really know nothing about as I was a little blurry-eyed last time I was there. Thanks to Wiki, I learned that Darien was settled in 1835 by several families that came from New England. I did not come from quite as far as New England, but I had a bit of a ride from Lake County, Illinois. I took the I294 Tollway down to I55 and exited at Lemont Road. Apparently, this highway exit is where one of the town’s founders ran an Inn/Stagecoach stop. Along with the innkeeper, there were all sorts of interesting folks in Darien during mid-1800's.
In approximately 1849, one of the town’s original settlers, Elisha Smart, joined the Gold Rush in California, and returned to Darien years later, actually called Cass at the time, a wealthy man. Another family, the Oldfields, arrived in Cass in 1850 and raised cattle on 2,000 acres.
In 1881, Franklin Blanchard opened up a cheese factory in town, now the current location of a McDonald’s. Not sure if Franklin is related in anyway to former Yankee Johnny Blanchard.
The Madden family arrived from jolly ole England in 1869. I'd like to think they are the ancestors of former Raiders coach John Madden but do not have any such info. The Madden's youngest son Martin married Elisha Smart's youngest daughter in 1878. Martin must have done pretty well for himself because in 1903, he built a mansion fashioned after the White House and called it Castle Eden. Castle Eden is still standing and is now part of the Aylesford Retreat Center of the Carmelite Fathers, pictured below.
According to Wiki, about 22,000 people live in Darien today. For those readers that do not live in the Chicago area, Darien is a suburb of Chicago, located just southwest of the city. Someone needs to update the Wiki page to include info on my old roommate's keg party!
I actually had a little trouble finding the Perfect Swing. I thought my GPS instructed me to turn down a major street near the venue but quickly realized it did not. I pulled into a huge parking lot with four or five warehouses lined up in a row. I discovered that the Perfect Swing is located in the back warehouse. If I did not see other dealers loading in, I might not have found the place.
Load in was easy. Promoter Eddie Hernandez, a super nice guy, placed me up against one wall. Next to me was my pal Mike Slinkman. I brought out one display case for my graded cards and all my baseball, basketball, and hockey binders along with half of my football binders.
For the first time in my life, I forgot the key to my display case. Ugh! Luckily, I had more than enough binders to fill both of my 6-foot tables. Today felt like I had set up with my buddy Dave in the old days as I just watched Mike make sales all day. Not much action at my tables. Mike has really upped his game and has an incredible inventory of Ruths, a Gehrig, a Cobb, Mantles galore along with all the other big names. Oh my! I told Mike after the show that he needs to set up more often because he is a phenomenal dealer. The problem for Mike is that he is more of a collector and does not enjoy selling cards. I think if he ever wanted to, he could just kill it buying and selling cards.
I enjoyed spending the day with Mike. He even purchased a card from me. Thanks Mike! A few others stopped by to purchase cards. A father and his two sons were working on obtaining cards of all the hit leaders from every year, which I thought was a cool way to collect. Bonus for me is that they follow my blog. They purchased a few cards. Thanks guys! Another Eddie, not to be confused with Eddie the promoter, stopped by and said he only knew about this show from my website. Thanks Eddie!
A real nice lady and her daughter purchased a group of 1964 Topps coins. The daughter told me that mom has a huge collection, a shrine, as she called it. Thank you ladies! A young guy purchased a nice pile of Exhibit cards. All my other sales were of the $2 or $1 variety. Sales did not add up.
I thought the crowd was okay, just not enough vintage set builders for me. I saw quite a few people I knew and enjoyed chatting.
On the buying front, I worked out a deal with Andy prior to the show to purchase his Philadelphia football card collection. We agreed on a cash and trade deal. Thanks Andy!
Overall, I really liked the venue. There was a nice number of dealers. Pizza was for sale. I purchased a slice of sausage. I also liked having turf under my feet. I could do without the sound of the ping of aluminum bats from the area adjacent to the show but what can you do? I have set up at shows with guys taking batting practice in adjoining rooms many times. I definitely will be back. I just need to figure out when I can fit this show into my schedule again.
A big thank you to everyone who purchased cards from me along with a thank you for everyone who stopped to chat, which is always enjoyable. Thanks to Eddie Hernandez and his family for putting on an excellent show!
Next Oak Creek show is coming up on July 1. I have a limited number of dealer spaces available. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to set up at the July 1 show.
In the meantime, I owe you a blog for the Roma Lodge show, which I'll try to get out soon.
Have a great week!
Below is a photo of a customer looking at my binders at the Perfect Swing show in Darien. The dealer across the way is young Nick, also known as Stack 'n Sell on YouTube. Nick is a super great guy and always a joy to be around. I was lucky to be set up across from Nick and next to Mike.