I had the pleasure of meeting Corky decades ago at one of the Fred Copp shows. Corky and I regularly set up at Fred's Schaumburg and Bloomingdale shows. Before I met Corky, he was a card shop owner and a show promoter. The shop was in Lake in the Hills and he promoted card shows in malls all over the Chicago metro area. Recently, he began promoting shows again, this time in Elgin, Illinois. Corky was also very fond of flea markets and was a regular vendor at the Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles, Illinois.
I always loved Corky's set up at the card shows. He had one display case that was for show -- it contained the same vintage cards for 30 years or so. Corky never really said the cards were for show but judging by the prices and the longevity of the cards in his display case, these cards were for show. The cards he actually sold were of the dime-box variety.
Corky always greeted me with a sturdy handshake, usually crushing my digits. He liked to dig through my hockey and football binders for Blackhawks and Bears. Every so often, he'd appear at a random show as a customer when I was set up as a dealer and he would sell me a box of vintage cards.
There was one box in particular that received a bit of notoriety. The box had a bunch of Bowman and Topps cards from the 1950s including some stars. Unfortunately, most of the cards had some sort of mold on them. Of course, I bought the moldy cards from Corky and eventually sold them all.
I could never convince Corky to come up and do my Milwaukee show even though I set up quite a few times at his show at the Elgin Holiday Inn. He moved that Elgin show last year and I never made it to the new location. I thought the Holiday Inn show had great potential. I observed that he had a really terrific crowd when he advertised the show in the Daily Herald Newspaper.
At the Elgin show, I appreciated that he really watched out for his dealers. He didn't leave the building until all the dealers had safely loaded out. There was one elderly dealer that Corky went out of his way to help cart the man and his cards in and out of the show.
In addition to his own shows, the flea market, and Fred's show, Corky loved to set up at shopping mall shows. For years, he was a regular dealer at the St. Charles Mall show. He always talked about that St. Charles Mall show. I visited the show a few times and did not see much customer traffic. Corky had his ways and he could make certain shows really work. He was also a regular vendor at a mall show in Matoon, Illinois. He swore by that show.
Corky was a vibrant, energetic guy. From what I know, he was struck with cancer in the fall and went down quickly. I last saw him at the National in Chicago over the summer. As usual, he sold me a really great box of cards. I just can't fathom not seeing Corky around. He is just one of those friendly faces that is a card show fixture.
One of these days I am going to create a Baseball Card Collector and Vendor Hall of Fame. Corky is a sure Hall of Famer. I am going to miss old Corky. Rest in Peace my friend.