Since 1987, the Mayne boys have been promoting a monthly show in Northeast Indiana. I met brothers Brian and Greg 15 or 20 years ago when I first started setting up at their show, then located at a hotel in an urban section of Fort Wayne. Back then I was underemployed and used my extra free time traveling the Midwest for card shows.
From the first time I met Brian and Greg, they treated me like family. Brian took me under his wing and taught me how to operate a card show — I am forever in his debt! Unfortunately, this incredibly kind man succumbed to a myriad of health issues and is no longer with us. However, his great legacy remains at brother Greg’s tremendous show and at dozens of other shows he helped guide and influence like my Oak Creek show.
As has been my routine when setting up in Fort Wayne, I drove out to New Buffalo, Michigan, after work Friday to spend the night at my folks’ house. I live about four hours away from Fort Wayne and I can knock out two of those hours traveling to New Buffalo on Friday then finish the drive Saturday morning to the show.
It is so nice to wake up out in the country and travel through hazy farms at dawn on an Indiana Saturday morning in wintery February. Well, after a couple of days where temperatures have been in the 50’s, it is not so wintery right now. This mild weather has melted all the snow from last month.
Not much traffic this morning. I had a very easy drive.
The show is now held on the outskirts of Fort Wayne, amongst some hilly terrain and beautiful Midwest farms. The cows I passed on my drive seemed as happy as cows can be. I really wanted to stop at some of these farms that had dirt roads for driveways but did not, fearing the farmers would think I was some sort of weird stalker. I wonder if it is okay to just stop at a farm and walk around? I have always lived in urban areas and do not know country etiquette but I really want to stop and photograph some cows and horses that dwell in these grassy fields dotted with an assortment of red and white wood-plank barns and farm houses.
Lost in my thoughts, I arrived at the Allen County Fairgrounds in no time. Inside the main structure hosting the card show I was immediately greeted by the friendly smile and warm handshake of Greg Mayne. So great to see Greg and catch up!
Greg had two tables for me in the middle of the room. I had modern dealers on one side, in front and in back along with a vintage dealer with tremendous inventory on the other side. I saw quite a bit of vintage in the room as I lugged in my display cases. Later, I walked the show and was impressed with the large number of vintage dealers. I spent some time admiring my neighbor’s 1915 Cracker Jack’s, T206 Cobb and T205 Mathewson. There was some great stuff here in Fort Wayne today!
I displayed Detroit Tigers and Lions cards prominently in my display cases, figuring there would be Detroit fans as it is the closest big league city to Fort Wayne. However, I probably saw more Chicago Cubs hats and jerseys than any other team. There were also collectors clothed in Bears, Bengals and Browns regalia. My favorite was the hoodie that read “The Hick From French Lick,” in a nod to Indiana native Larry Bird.
My first customer wore a Cubs hat and a Cubs jacket. He held some yellowed and tattered pieces of papers showing the cards he needed to complete his sets. Ahhh, a set builder. My people! He purchased my 1971 Kellogg’s Pete Rose along with some football cards.
There was a lull after this first sale. Quite a few tire kickers today. A lot of folks asked for various cards I did not have. I received many compliments for the cards I did have. I chatted with many folks. One guy looked at my 1960 Fleer Lou Gehrig and said his wife needed that card to complete her set. “Your wife,” I said, not sure that I heard him right. “Yes,” he replied then went into detail on all the sets his wife is working on. This man married well!
Then I chatted with a man who did not marry well and said his wife is making him get rid of all his sets. Time for a new wife I wanted to say but held my tongue.
I met a collector working on the 1965 Topps baseball set. He purchased my ‘65 Denny McClain and Bobby Richardson. Around this time my stomach started to grumble and I slid outside to purchase some grub from a food truck featuring Mexican fare. I got my usual, three steak tacos. They were sooo good!
After lunch, my whale for today began pulling stacks of football cards from my display cases. He was an elderly gentleman wearing a Packers hat. He told me this was the first time he ever attended a card show and was a little hesitant prior because everyone he talked to gave him bad information, telling him there would not be any vintage football at the show. He was like a kid in a candy store. He told me he had never seen the 1948 and 1949 Leafs I had on display. He pulled out a couple along with a pile of Bowmans, some 1955 Topps All Americans and all of my 1957 Topps.
Man, my football inventory has really taken a hit these last few months. I remember thinking just a couple of months ago that I had a really great football inventory… not any more! Time to restock!
I had several more customers purchase cards today. I think my sales were better today than my last visit to Fort Wayne where I brought out binders.
On the buying front, a few guys offered to sell me cards. I purchased a 1958 Topps Stan Musial All Star, a 1962 Topps AL Home Run Leaders with Mantle and Maris along with a 1963 Fleer Bob Gibson.
Overall, a really enjoyable day. I had fun chatting with Greg along with a bunch of others I was surprised to see at this show like Del, Walt, Dennis, and Mitch Larock, who owns a card shop in Crown Point, Indiana. Mitch is threatening to set up in Oak Creek. I told Mitch I have space for him as long as he brings up our pal Jimmy C.
Time kind of flew by and it seemed like I was on the road home way too soon. I was thankful I was heading west into the Central Time Zone where I would recover the hour I lost yesterday driving from Illinois into Indiana.
Man, for as much as I enjoyed the ride to Fort Wayne, I did not enjoy the ride home to Northern Illinois where time seemed to drag and drag. Once I arrived in the Chicago region, I chose to drive through the city as the road around seemed lined with slow-moving trucks. Just past Comiskey Park, traffic came to a halt. I quickly cut over to Lake Shore Drive which moved pretty well until I hit Loyola University and slow-moving Sheridan Road. It seemed to take forever to get home! Ugh!
Prior to driving home, I thought about spending the night back in New Buffalo to break up the drive but had to go home because I booked a show in Appleton, Wisconsin, for Sunday. Appleton is a doable morning drive from my house but not from New Buffalo.
Anyway, one show down, another show to go. I can’t remember the last time I set up on Super Bowl Sunday. I hope people come out to the show in Appleton Sunday. Appleton blog coming soon!