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Intriguing activity mix closes out month of March

A trio of show outings, coupled with a range of meeting attendance participations, spread out over three weeks that closed out the month of March.

My travels got under way with a trip to Charlotte to attend the annual American Numismatic Association National Money Show. Closing out the month was attendance at the 43rd annual South Shore Coin Club show in Milwaukee and the 52nd annual Fox Valley Coin Club show in Appleton, split by a drive down to O?Hare to pick up a trio of family members who were returning from a scuba diving trip to Bonaire.

Mish0501L.jpgA diversion in my drive to Milwaukee to attend the annual SSCC show unexpectedly accorded the opportunity to capture a photo of the Oshkosh residence occupied by ANA president Henry O. Granberg when he headed the national organization in 1915-1917. 

Heading out for the Charlotte show on a Wednesday morning required me to roll out of bed at 4 o?clock in order to catch a 6:30 Northwest Airlink commuter flight to Detroit. While logging the 44-mile drive, the odometer on my Town Car rolled over to 150,000 miles, the first time I?ve pushed a car to crest that mark.

Landing in Charlotte on time at 11:51 a.m., I was surprised to encounter John and Nancy Wilson, who had just arrived inbound from Florida on a U.S. Airways flight, and we shared a taxi into the city.

After claiming my room at the Westin, I headed downstairs for a quick lunch in the Ember. There I enjoyed a brief visit with Arthur Fitts, a former ANA board member and husband of present board member Prue Fitts. Arthur has thrown his hat in the ring as a board candidate in the current election cycle. Then I headed over to the Convention Center where the board was scheduled to convene in open session at 2 p.m., but the session got under way about a half hour late.

In the meantime I encountered ANA national volunteers Paul Whitnah from Texas, Merna and Mark Lighterman from Florida, Lee and Joyce Kuntz from California, Rollie Finner from Wisconsin and Gene Hynds from Florida, who were getting into the swing of the convention duties they typically shoulder. I also exchanged a few words with convention director Brenda Bishop, who was busy checking out last-minute show details, and Larry Lee, former ANA museum curator and now an involved member of the Nebraska Numismatic Association.

When the open board meeting got going, there were about a dozen members and staff in attendance beyond those seated around the board table. They included editors Dave Harper of Numismatic News and Beth Deisher of Coin World, along with ANA immediate past president Gary Lewis from Florida, New Jersey hobby community activist Jim Majoros and board candidates Joe Boling from Indiana and Carl Schwenker from Texas, in addition to myself.

The primary topics that came up for discussion prior to the board returning into executive session at about 4 p.m. were presentations by Executive Director Chris Cipoletti, who provided an overview of the ANA strategic plan and the proposed 2008 fiscal year budget. Also explored in some detail was the proposed bylaws revision, with other topics discussed including the de-accessioning of duplicate books from the library and coins from the museum collection, along with early planning for a fundraising ?gala? in Colorado Springs in January and the addition of a fourth quarter National Money Show to the ANA event lineup.

Returning to the registration area, I enjoyed visiting with Dave Schenkman from Maryland, who was teaching a pre-convention seminar on Civil War Numismatics, and Howard Daniel from Virginia, who would be holding forth at the International Bank Note Society and Numismatics International shared club table during the show. I also encountered Jerry Sajbel, president of the host Charlotte Coin Club and assistant chairman of the show. Heading out to explore the bourse layout I then encountered floor manager Brian Miller, his assistant Larry Gaye from Oregon, along with Bill Brewer, president of the North Carolina Numismatic Association and local committee promotions chairman, and local volunteer Al Wilson, who were in the process of applying finishing touches to the booth setups.

A volunteer orientation meeting began at 6:30 p.m., to which I was invited as chairman of the upcoming Milwaukee ANA, with about 40 local and national volunteers in attendance. This was followed by a kick-off get-together reception hosted by ANA President Bill Horton. After limiting myself to a handful of peanuts and a beer, which were to serve as my dinner for the evening, at about 8:30 p.m. I walked back to the Westin in the company of the Kuntz?s, Bishop and national volunteer Dorothy Baber from San Diego.

It was pre-dawn on Thursday morning when I headed out, pounding the streets for an hour-long constitutional. The walk passed the site on which the Charlotte Mint (1838-1861) stood until the mid-1930s when the structure was disassembled and reconstructed at a suburban location two miles or so away on Randolph Road. The move was a Civil Works Administration project, undertaken a century after the building?s authorization, construction and opening, converting it to serve as the home of the Mint Museum of Art, North Carolina?s first art museum. It was a bit after 8 o?clock when I headed down to the Ember Grille for breakfast, where I shared some conversation with dealer Kent Gulley from Florida, who was seated at an adjoining table.

Another open meeting ANA board session got under way at 9 a.m. with fewer than than 10 to 12 members typically present through the nearly four hour-session. It began with review of the organization?s fiscal performance against budget over the first 11 months of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007. It reflected another in what has become a string of serious operational deficits. During the course of the session, in response to challenges from members in attendance, the board voted to retroactively reinstate medal recognitions for 25-year and 50-year members, which had been discontinued with the adoption of the 2007 fiscal year budget a year earlier.

It was about 1 p.m. when they broke for lunch. I joined Majoros in opting for the Jolina Tex-Mex restaurant across the street from the Convention Center. Sitting in on the afternoon session when it convened about an hour later, the topics of coverage that stick with me concerned an exploration of the capital budget for the coming fiscal year, educational program planning and how to proceed with the proposal for restructuring the competitive exhibit categories. With the bourse having opened to dealer setup at 3 p.m., it was a buzz of activity by the time the board meeting adjourned around 5.

I didn?t take leave of the Convention Center until nearly 7 p.m. After returning to my room at the Westin, I decided to do some strolling about the Uptown area in search of a dinner destination and a small supply of breakfast bananas for the next three days. While strolling up North Tryon Street, I was corralled by Numismatist editor Barbara Gregory to join her and husband Steve Bobbitt at the Monticello restaurant. We passed a couple pleasant hours and enjoyed very good food. And, I returned to the Westin at about 10 with my banana supply in hand.

While I rolled out of bed at about 6 o?clock on Friday morning, I didn?t start the day off with a walking regimen, as I had a 7:15 meeting on my agenda, not to mention that it turned out to be a rainy morning and day. My commitment was to sit in on a convention status meeting conducted by Bishop, with a mix of 30 or so local committee, national volunteer and ANA staff members in attendance. Light breakfast offerings of cereal and fruit were available to attendees. Personally, I passed on the options, as at 8 o?clock I was to meet for breakfast with John Morris from Atlanta over at the Westin, the purpose of which was to finalize arrangements for the convention theme embroidered shirts that local volunteers will be wearing at the Milwaukee ANA in August.

It was about 9 a.m. when I returned to the convention center and got the Milwaukee ANA promotional materials arranged at the Future Conventions table situated in the lobby area of the bourse hall. There I also met up with Stephen Rye from Phoenix, Ariz., representing the 2008 National Money Show, with whom I shared the table. As a member of the local host committee of the host Phoenix and Mesa coin clubs, for which he has accepted the responsibility of organizing and conducting the Numismatic Theatre efforts.

Friday was a rather quiet day around the bourse ? it was dismissed as being ?dead? by many of the dealers with whom I chatted ? but the show was pretty lively in other respects. At 4 p.m. Executive Director Chris Cipoletti delivered a Numismatic Theatre presentation focused on the board and executive?s vision of the ANA future, a vision heavily focused on educational initiatives and the establishment of ANA museums on both coasts. It was a vision that was solidly supported in its concepts by most of the perhaps 30 members in attendance, but seriously challenged by many from the standpoint of practicality.

At 6 o?clock the ANA election Candidate Forum convened with 13 candidates seated at the debate table at the front of the room and perhaps 100 members in the audience. In large part the flow was predictable, the four participating candidates from the current board defended their actions, or lack thereof, while the non-incumbents challenged them. Things got pretty testy at times, but no punches were thrown!

With the forum breaking up at 8, I headed back to the Westin, where I found myself engaged in an extended conversation with Tom Mulvaney, widely renowned for the quality of his numismatic photography, digesting and dissecting the issues broached over the two hours and other related topics. At 9 I headed to the Ember Grille for dinner, sharing an adjoining table with North Carolinian Ray Flanigan and his wife, and a visit from San Diegan Kay Lenker, a former ANA board member. I closed out the evening by briefly visiting the Fitts? from the Boston area, who were sharing a nearby table with Pacific Northwest stalwart and national volunteer Larry Rowe, before calling it a day at about 10:30 p.m.

While Saturday dawned to dry but cool weather, I didn?t roll out of bed until about 6:30 and thus again found it necessary to forego a morning constitutional, as another convention status meeting was set for 7:30. The 30 or so volunteers in attendance were treated to hot breakfast sandwiches. Shortly after 8 o?clock I headed down to the bourse floor foyer area, where the Future Conventions table shared adjoining areas with the host clubs, the ANA area and the Message Center, observing the dealers slowly congregating awaiting the opening of the bourse at nine.

Attendance and activity around the bourse was much more lively on Saturday than it had been on Friday. In talking with dealers as the day waned, the feedback indicated a marked improvement in business levels, although few were exalted at their results.

An ANA Town Hall Meeting was convened at 6 p.m., with Horton presiding, with the current board spread out across the dais at the front of the room, responding to questions and challenges advanced by the perhaps 50 or so members in attendance. The tone of this meeting was much more tempered and considerate than had been that of the previous evening?s Candidate Forum. Attitudes had obviously moderated in the interim, on both sides, undoubtedly the upshot of a couple tell-it-like-it-is meetings earlier on Saturday, a session the board held with the Advisory Council, consisting of former elected board members in attendance at the show, and an ad hoc afternoon session that included the participation of three current board members and three non-incumbent candidates, I being one of the latter.

With the meeting breaking up around 8 p.m., I again returned to the Westin and the Ember Grille for dinner. This time I joined a group that included Horton, vice president Barry Stuppler and board members Michael Fey, Patti Finner and Alan Herbert, along with convention Message Center anchor Rollie Finner and board candidate Wendell Wolka. Our conversations embraced a range of subjects from our collecting instincts to the election prospects of the candidates. It was about 10 when I headed to my room.

On Sunday morning I was up and strolling the virtually deserted streets of the Uptown area by 6 o?clock, returning to the Westin around 7. By 8  I had showered, dressed for the day, packed my bags and found my way over to the very quiet Convention Center. After stowing my suitcase and topcoat away in the convention volunteer lounge in the registration area, I headed down to the bourse foyer where out-of-town attendees who had not yet pulled up stakes slowly gathered for the 9 o?clock opening of the bourse. That accorded me the opportunity for breakfast at the snack bar, the choice being a hot dog or nothing.
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This South Shore Coin Club wood is the latest in a long-running annual series they have offered up as souvenirs to attendees at their annual shows, this one recording March?s 43rd annual event.

Between goodbyes and handing out brochures plugging my candidacy for the ANA board, a mission I?d been pursuing through the previous three days as well, at about 11 a.m. I set out to locate a land line public phone to place a call back to Iola. Alas, I struck out, discovering that all of the public telephone banks at the Charlotte Convention Center have been removed. As I don?t own a cell phone, that was a most disappointing discovery, as I was seeking to place a ?Happy Birthday? call to one of my granddaughters, Solia, who had awoken to her seventh birthday. At the Message Center, which also did not have land line phone availability, Rollie came to my rescue with his personal cell phone.

It was about noon when I caught a taxi to the airport for my 2:15 flight north, this time connecting in the Twin Cities rather than Detroit. Lunch was a tray of nachos at a concourse snack bar. In the Twin Cities I had another walk-on connection, ending up with barely 20 minutes for the walk from gate C12 to B8, a serious deterioration from the scheduled connecting time of about 40 minutes. Joining me on the Airlink commuter flight back to Appleton was KP numismatics editorial director Debbie Bradley, who had been in Charlotte demonstrating the NumisMaster online information system at the KP/NN booth. Arriving back in Appleton on time at 6 o?clock, I was back home by seven, this time somewhat surprisingly with my suitcase in tow, it having made the tight connection.

My next junket was barely more than 24 hours in duration. It got under way from Iola at about 4 o?clock the following Friday afternoon. While my numismatic destination was Milwaukee, first I had to drive down to the Chicago area to drop my daughter, Sharon, and two grandchildren, Natasha and Alexus, off at O?Hare, from whence they embarked on a week-long trip down to Bonaire, situated in the Caribbean about 90 miles off the coast of Venezuela, for a scuba diving outing. As they were scheduled to depart on an early morning Air Jamaica flight, we over-nighted at the airport Hilton Hotel.

On Saturday morning I rolled out of bed for the second time ? the first time was at 3:30 to accompany the girls to the international terminal ? at about 7 o?clock. Exiting the parking ramp by about 7:30, by eight I had reached the Lake Forest Oasis service area on the Tri-State Tollway, where I opted for a couple sausage-and-egg biscuits for breakfast at the McDonald?s. Another hour of driving put me at the Menomonee Valley site of a scheduled Milwaukee ANA host committee meeting with about a half hour to spare.

mish0501gc.jpgmish0501fc.jpgWhile not technically a stickered dollar, I was pleased to have this unusual souvenir offering passed my way by someone I crossed paths with at the Charlotte show. It is comprised of a 2003-P Sacagawea dollar set in a flexible plastic 2×2 with a gummed anniversary seal affixed to the back side.

The 10 o?clock meeting had 16 committee chairs in attendance. We covered a lot of territory over the next five hours, breaking for a short sub-sandwich lunch around noontime. With the meeting breaking up at about three, I threw in a brief visit downtown to check out a convention event venue before heading north. It was nearly five when I stopped at the Applebee?s in Fond du Lac for dinner, and shortly before seven when I arrived back home on Long Lake.

I returned to Milwaukee again the following Friday, this time to attend the 43rd annual South Shore Coin Club show. My travels began at about 7 o?clock in the morning, putting me in Oshkosh, 49 miles down the road, an hour later, where I took a break to visit briefly with Jeff Reichenberger, a co-chair of the Milwaukee ANA Pre-Registration Committee, who has also been spearheading a local outreach promotional effort. As a businessman, Jeff owns the Poeschl Printing Company, a niche printer of specialized one- and two-color business printing.

Jeff has also been researching H.O. Granberg, president of the ANA for the 1915-1917 term and a one-time owner of an example of the 1804 dollar, with the objective of publishing a reference on the man and his hobby involvements. Intriguingly, the home that Granberg lived in while ANA president still stands at the southwest corner of Michigan and 10th streets on Oshkosh?s west side, which he pointed out to me from the back stoop of his shop. The house is situated cater-corner from the print shop, which is located on 11th Street between Michigan and Ohio streets.  

My day?s drive was one of 141 miles, which delivered me to the Sheraton Four Points Hotel at about 9:45. There I found members Walter and Phyllis Weis, Jeff Stenber and Lee Hartz, another ANA convention co-chair, heading up the Exhibits Committee, holding forth at the club?s dealer/worker table just outside the exhibit hall. Manning the registration table were members Douglas Van Beek, Roger Culver and Art ?Jolly? Petri, still another ANA convention co-chair, heading the Activities (Tours) Committee, tending to the registration table. With the bourse opening to the public at 10 o?clock, all hands were busily processing registrations and hawking raffle tickets.

A solid and apparently active crowd quickly engulfed the bourse, remaining solid well into the afternoon. Through the course of the day I made several trips to the club table, to enjoy a selection of treats laid in by Phyllis, who also treated me to a couple worker snacks for lunch. I spent much of the day holding forth at the Milwaukee ANA convention local committee?s outreach table on the bourse talking up convention participation and my board candidacy. By 5 o?clock, with attendance for the first two days of the show having climbed to about 600 ? I understand the abbreviated five-hour Thursday session had been quite spirited ? activity around the floor had become aimless.

During the course of my late-afternoon wanderings of the bourse, while visiting with dealer James Sego from Naperville, Ill., he shared with me the discovery 1968 no ?S? dime proof set, as published in the March 2, 1971, issue of the News, and associated documentation, which he?d recently had the opportunity to acquire. With the bourse closing down at six, I headed to the Clarion Hotel about a half mile south on Howell Avenue for my overnight accommodations, as the Sheraton Four Points was completely booked for the night. Deciding to give the hotel?s Cork ?N? Cleaver restaurant a try instead of venturing out in the rain, I came away very pleased with having opted for a platter of Usinger?s sausages and kraut.

mish0501ic.jpgWhile this National Guard stickered dollar is certainly nondescript, as it brings to six the number of related pieces that now rest in my collection, I was quite pleased to have it offered to me by Tony Tumonis from Tucson, Ariz., when our paths crossed at the ANA National Money Show in Charlotte.

With the rain having ceased by morning, it was about 6 o?clock when I headed out for a morning constitutional walking up and down Howell for about an hour, stopping at a Denny?s along the way for a biscuits and sausage gravy breakfast and returning to the Clarion at about 7:30. About an hour later I drove back to the Sheraton Four Points, arriving well before the Baton Rouge bourse room was opened to dealers at nine. The floor was rather quiet until it was opened to public attendance at ten, so I spent the next hour or so drumming up votes among the dealers in attendance, but with a solid crowd circulating in the aisles by 11 o?clock, I returned to the ANA convention outreach table.

At 1 o?clock I was invited to briefly address the annual Boy Scout Coin Collecting Merit Badge Clinic sponsored at the South Shore show by the Milwaukee Numismatic Society. The program, which this year boasted 57 participating scouts, was started in 1981, with two of the participating scout leaders at that time being Lee Hartz and Tom Casper, both of whom remain with the program today. Other leaders participating this year, who are also local committee chairs for the upcoming Milwaukee ANA, were assistant general chairman Bruce Benoit, Dave Hunsicker, co-chair with Casper of the Numismatic Theatre, Exhibits co-chair Leon Saryan and Scout Program co-chair George Cuhaj.

Following the breakup of the Clinic, I was invited to join the dozen or so participating program volunteers for lunch, so an unclaimed plate that had been ordered in from the Four Points kitchen would not go to waste.

With attendance having thinned perceptibly, by 2 o?clock the dealers were slowly starting to bail. By three, most of the day?s 400 or so attendees had deserted the aisles, although the published closing time was four. Tear-down of the show got under way shortly thereafter, an effort that I joined in on for an hour or so. When I took leave of the hall at about 4:30, the bourse had been totally vacated, with the display cases removed and dealer signs collected, except for four dealers who were still packing up.

While I was homeward bound, it would take me nearly 12 hours to get there. First, I had to run down to O?Hare Airport to pick up my daughter and grandkids on their return from Bonaire. Their Air Jamaica flight was scheduled to arrive at about 8:30; it was delayed until about 10, and we were not able to get on the road until nearly 11. Having arrived at O?Hare at about 6 o?clock after a 75-mile drive, anticipating the earlier flight, I had a lot of time to burn devouring concourse food and the daily newspaper. After I dropped my passengers off at their homes, it was hard on four in the morning by the time I put my head to rest.

On Sunday the 52nd annual spring show Fox Valley Coin Club got under way early in the morning at Appleton?s Wave Bar banquet room, organized by dealer Jim Bayer. While I?d planned on spending the day at the show, I determined that answering the opening bell would leave me too wasted for the day. Thus, I decided to opt for a cameo appearance instead, not hitting the road for the hour-long, 47-mile drive until about 9:30, and was there for only about two-and-a-half hours.

While this event is one that I?ve attended frequently over the years, I had missed it the last two, since it moved to this new location. The bourse comprised a 40-plus table setup occupied by 30-odd dealers, with a fair amount of elbow room for expansion. Many of the same dealers who were set-up at the South Shore show were now doing business at Appleton; even a few of the attendees encountered were the same. I spend about half my time there posted behind an ANA convention outreach table setup, along with enjoying visits about the floor. When I arrived a real nice crowd was moving through the room, continuing to build until around noon, when it started thinning to the point that by the time I left around 1 o?clock open tables were in evidence.

mish0501ac.jpgChocolate ?Bunny Munny? was distributed to youngsters participating in the Scout Clinic and Young Numismatist Treasure Hunt Trivia programs on Saturday during the annual South Shore Coin Club show.

It was about 2 o?clock when I returned home, closing off the afternoon with a nap, which prepared me for a dinner excursion with Sally to a nearby pizza place, where we were joined by some of our kids and grandkids. And, I was ready to hit the hay early.

Three busy weeks drew to a close two days later, on the first Tuesday of April, when I hit the road for Wausau at about 5 o?clock in the evening to attend the 1,000th meeting of the Wisconsin Valley Coin Club, a small club boasting only about 30 members. While I?ve attended the annual WVCC shows frequently over the years, my attendance at their club meetings has been very infrequent. The timing of this meeting was apropos, however, as an early meeting of this club was the first coin club meeting that I ever attended. That was 44 years ago, probably in April, in the company of Chet Krause, shortly after I moved from southwestern Michigan to Iola to join the News staff.

mish0501jc.jpgmish0501kc.jpgThis dollar-size advertising piece presenting a listing of the portraits appearing on U.S. paper money from George Washington on the $1 bill to Woodrow Wilson on the $100,000, bears a 1972 copyright date, but it is one I do not recall having encountered previously, so I couldn?t pass it up while searching the offerings of Des Moines dealer Jerry Koepp during the SSCC show.   

As going out for pizza was a relatively new thing to do when the WVCC was founded in the fall of 1955, the club chose to hold their milestone meeting at Sam?s Pizza emporium in suburban Schofield. While attendance at the meeting numbered only slightly more than 20 including me ? I was duly enrolled as member 266 upon tendering $10, which covers dues for five years ? quite a number of the attendees were longtime members. One of the attendees was longtime acquaintance Ken Charnecke, the ?Tent Man,? who is responsible for the multiple scores of tents set up annually on the grounds of the Iola Old Car Show. The club meets twice monthly, on the first and third Tuesdays, normally at the Liberty Bell Coin Investments shop.

This meeting ? devoid of business, just sociability and feasting, with a bit of imbibing thrown in ? got under way at 6 o?clock and did not break up until about eight. At the bitter end, there were just four of us left bantering issues of the day; president Thad Streeter, Brian Kruse of Liberty Bell and Chris Cimino were the others. It was shortly after nine when I arrived home, having logged a round trip drive of roughly 110 miles.

Thus did a three-week mix of intriguing activities close out, ranging from a national coin convention to a local coin club meeting, and from the forgettable to the unforgettable, all in pursuit of the pleasures that germinate from involvement in the coin collecting community. 

mish0501dc.jpgmish0501ec.jpgThe Wisconsin Valley Coin Club marked its 1,000th meeting milestone by preparing for sale to members rigid 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 rigid plastic cases imprinted with appropriate memorializing wording commemorating the occasion and mounting 2007-dated one ounce silver Eagles.

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