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Memphis show marks milestones

Highlighting this year’s May and June travels was an outing to the 35th annual International Paper Money Show in Memphis, an event that was host to formal celebrations of the 50th anniversaries of the Society of Paper Money Collectors and the International Bank Note Society.

Having not attended Memphis since 2004, given my early memberships and interest in both organizations (SPMC #294 and IBNS #152) virtually since their founding, this was an event that I wouldn’t have missed for anything, save perhaps for the stockpile of new $100 notes in Fort Worth!

I left home for the trip to Memphis on the second Thursday of June. Checking in at the United counter for my 8:55 a.m.  United Express O’Hare connecting departure, I learned that due to air traffic delays in Chicago, I would not make my connection. I’d been rerouted on a 9:30 a.m. Delta departure to the Twin Cities that would get me into Memphis at 3 p.m., rather than 1:36 p.m. as planned.

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With about a two and a half hour layover, I occupied my time with a walk to the main concourse, there picking Ike’s for a salad and soup lunch. Ike’s is named after a World War II veteran, by the way, not the five-star general and president. It was named in memory of Ike Isaacson, an aspiring Minnesota chef whose career ambitions were picked up decades later by his son.

While registering at the Marriott Memphis Downtown, adjacent to the Cook Convention Center, I had the opportunity to briefly exchange greetings with a good friend, Marvin Mericle, who had just arrived after driving in from southern Indiana. Subsequently, after settling into my room and making my way over to the convention hall, I encountered David Walsworth from Louisiana, Doug Davis from Texas, Brian Stubbs from Illinois, Howard Daniel from Maryland and numerous other frequent and occasional community acquaintances with whom I always enjoy passing a bit of time when our paths cross at hobby events.

With the bourse closing down for the day and the first Lyn Knight auction session getting under way at 6 p.m., I lingered for a bit around the area where Larry Shepherd and the ANA crew were setting up a special exhibition of notes from the Aubrey Bebee collection.  Joining up with Glen Jorde from Devils Lake, N.D., Bob Jones from Lexington, Ky., Larry and his ANA crew of Rhonda Scurek and Tiffanie Bueschel, at 7:30 p.m. we rode a vintage Main Street Trolley down to Beale Street. After opting for dinner at B.B. King’s, we soaked in a bit of the street’s atmosphere on a relatively quiet night, returning to the Marriott about three hours later.

On Friday morning I didn’t roll out of bed early enough to get in a constitutional before heading over to the nearby Crowne Plaza hotel to attend the annual Society of Paper Money Collectors breakfast. This enjoyable and entertaining gathering, with upwards of 150 on hand for a formal salute of the organization’s 50th anniversary, got under way at 7:30 a.m. Among those I enjoyed sharing a table with were military currency enthusiasts Steve and Ray Feller from Iowa, along with Jim Downey from Wisconsin’s Door County.

It was about 9 a.m. when I headed over to the convention center, spending about an hour exploring the bourse before sitting in on the first of 14 educational programs slotted for presentation on Friday and Saturday, not including SPMC’s two-hour 8th annual Author’s Forum, conducted by Wendell Wolka and featuring six authors. The presentation was an exploration of the topic “Marijuana & Oil, Expressways to the Highs of California National Banking, 1880-1924,” an informative and entertaining treatment offered up by Peter Huntoon for an audience of 25 or so.

From midday on I spent my time alternating between exploring and visiting about the bourse, or surveying the contents of roughly 200 cases of exhibits placed by 30-odd exhibitors. Following the 6 p.m. closing of the bourse, I headed down to the Marriott’s Magnolia Grille for a quiet dinner, thereafter calling it a day.

On Saturday I headed out on a walking constitutional at about 5:30 a.m., encountering and briefly chatting with Jim Sweeney from central Iowa, who was awaiting Don Mark’s arrival in the lobby to hit the road for home, they having been in attendance throughout the Thursday setup session and Friday. The hour-long regimen took me down Main Street, past the historic Lorraine Hotel, scene of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, to Patterson Street, then up Front Street and back to the Marriott. A quick breakfast at the Magnolia Grille followed.

My day at the show was broken up by attendance at several meetings, the first being the kickoff educational program presentation delivered by Nicholas Graver from Upstate New York. It was an insightful presentation on vintage “Photographic Advertising Notes.” Then there were the annual membership, award and program meetings of SPMC at noon and the IBNS at 1 p.m., each with attendance in the 35-40 range.

These meetings provided opportunities for me to extend ANA Presidential Award recognitions to the respective presidents, Mark Anderson from New York City and Peter Symes from Sydney, Australia, both personally and as proxies for the community contributions of those who passed before them over the past 50 years. The programs featured Pierre Fricke exploring the development of Confederate currency collecting at the SPMC meeting and Roger Urce and Howard Daniel developing the story of the rare military currency issues of the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War for IBNS attendees.

From 4 to 7 p.m., all show attendees were invited to participate in an informal soiree party in celebration of the 50th anniversaries of the SPMC and IBNS. The appetizer, finger food and dessert stations, complemented with the availability of beverages of one’s choice, sufficed as dinner for me, and I’m certain for most others who partook of the party.

This event provided the opportunity for me to present another pair of ANA Presidential Award recognitions, one going to Mike Crabb, the Memphis Coin Club’s driving force as producer of the show for 38 years, and Kansan Lyn Knight, who acquired the event two years ago.
Among the more than 200 show attendees present and recognized by Knight were three charter members from the two organizations being saluted; SPMC founding member John Rowe from Texas and IBNS founder Neil Shafer from Wisconsin, along with myself, who happened to be among those who signed at the beginnings of both organizations. Knight also recognized the MCC, which is this year observing its 75th anniversary.

Following the breakup of the soiree, wandering into the Marriott’s Trolley Stop lobby lounge and taking a seat at the bar, I shared a couple beers and about an hour of light conversation with dealers Leon Thornton from Missouri and James Warmus from Florida before calling it a day. We entertained ourselves recounting experiences encountered through years of interaction with fellow travelers.

Heading out on an hour long constitutional on Sunday morning, I walked down Front Street to Beale Street, along the way wandering through the Confederate Park situated on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi, where a 90-minute battle in 1862 resulted in the capture of Memphis by Union forces. Walking Beale over to Fourth Street, I then followed Fourth back to the Marriott. Heading down to breakfast at the Magnolia Grille, I shared a table and conversation with dealer Joseph Algazi from Miami, who specializes in Cuban collectibles, before packing and heading over to the convention center.

After killing about three hours passing time with those who had not yet pulled up stakes from the bourse, around noon I caught a taxi to the for a scheduled 2:19 United Express homeward bound departure to O’Hare. Stopping at the Home Team Sports lunch stand in the C concourse for something to eat, I happened upon New Englanders Tom Denly and Roger Durand, visiting with them a bit before we headed off to our respective flights.

While attendance at the Memphis event was the only major convention excursion logged during the months of May and June, both were actually pretty busy travel months for me. They got under way with my drive back from Aberdeen following that triangulated excursion to attend the Central States and South Dakota shows. That was followed by a mid-month drive to Green Bay to attend the local club’s spring show. The following week I drove to Okoboji, Iowa, to participate in the spring board meeting of the Higgins Museum. The week after Memphis found me flying to New York City to fulfill my duty as an ANS trustee.

On May’s middle Sunday I picked up three passengers along the way to an outing at the Nicolet Coin Club’s annual spring show in Green Bay. Firing the Town Car up at about 7:30, I headed out by way of Iola, picking up former Krause associates Colin Bruce, Bob Wilhite and Joe Edler along the way. With the overall drive clocking in at 81 miles, it was shortly before 9 a.m. when we pulled up at the Comfort Inn conference center on the city’s northwest side.

A healthy level of activity was already apparent around the 30-plus dealer bourse, with a really good crowd quickly developing and prevailing throughout the morning. I spent the first two hours exploring the offerings of the bourse and the conversations that developed along the way, including with dealers Jim Bayer from Appleton and Jim Krupka of Point Coin in Stevens Point, who were working the floor.

At 11 a.m. Joel and I sat in on a hour long Numismatists of Wisconsin board meeting, joining fellow board members  Bill Brandimore, Ken Muelling, Mike Tramte and Bob VanRyzin. Vice President Fred Borgmann conducted the meeting in the absence of President Thad Streeter, with secretary Bill Oldenburg, treasurer Ron Calkins, NOW News editor Phyllis Calkins and historian Gene Johnson also in attendance. Iola was well represented, numbering four of the 10 participants, with there having been seven absentees from the official family.

At about 12:30 p.m., shortly following adjournment I rounded up my fellow passengers and headed out, stopping for Mexican at a Los Bandidos before leaving town. Lingering over lunch, it was two o’clock before I put the Town Car back on the road, and about 3:30 by the time I pulled into the yard at home after dropping my traveling companions off at their in Iola homes.

A subsequent May outing found me putting the Town Car on the road again on the Monday before Memorial Day, this time traveling solo to Okoboji, Iowa, in fulfillment of my responsibilities as a board member at the Higgins Museum. Hitting the road out of Iola at 11 a.m. I pulled into Tomah about two hours later with 103 miles registered on the trip meter. Stopping for lunch at a Culver’s, I opted for a cup of George’s Chili Supreme, along with a Strawberry Fields Salad, which I find to be one of their really tasty seasonal offerings.

Arriving in Okoboji at 6:30 p.m., after settling into my AmericINN roomI strolled about a mile to Fisherman’s Wharf to enjoy dinner overlooking the Okoboji lakes water isthmus from the restaurant’s deck, getting back to my lodgings around 8:30 p.m.

Awaking at about 6 a.m. Tuesday, I headed off on a stroll about the area bounded by the Iowa Great Lakes Trail, returning somewhat before 7:30. After availing myself of the AmericINN’s  continental breakfast offerings, I retired to my room and tended to some work papers before heading over to the Museum. The board meeting got under way shortly after 10 a.m. and was wrapped up by about 11:15.
At 11:30 a.m. I joined my fellow board members and a couple of their wives, along with curator/docent Larry Adams, for lunch at the Dry Dock restaurant. On the road homeward bound an hour later, I pulled into the driveway at home at 7 p.m.

The second Wednesday of June found me hitting the road on a day-long 301-mile jaunt through west central Wisconsin. Joining me for this outing was Chet Krause, as we paid visits to Arlys Steele in Tomah and Keith and Nancy Edison in Independence. The timing of this excursion was most appropriate, knowing that the following day I would be heading off to the Memphis Paper Money Show, given that both the late Bob Steele and Keith Edison’s enthusiasm for Wisconsin National Bank Note issues frequently drew  them there as well.

Arriving in Tomah around 11 a.m. for our visit with Arlys, she treated us to a delightful home-cooked lunch. By 1 p.m.  we were on the road for a pleasant 70-mile drive up to Independence, arriving there at about 2:30 p.m. It was about 4:30 when we pulled up stakes from our visit with the Edison’s, reading north on US-53 to Osseo, there picking up US-10 eastbound for the balance of our 137-mile homeward bound journey. It was nearing 8 o’clock before I pulled into the garage at home.

We had paused in Osseo for a half hour or so for a Norske Nook dinner, a restaurant widely renowned in these parts for their made-from-scratch pies. Regrettably, I felt compelled to pass on a slice this time, given that at lunch I had treated myself to a generous slice of Arlys’ freshly made rhubarb pie. The Norske Nook’s daily pie menu features roughly 30 award winning fresh baked selections. You owe it to yourself to stop off and give one of them a try if your travels being you through Wisconsin on I-94.

The Thursday following my return from Memphis found me heading for New York City to participate in the summer meeting of the American Numismatic Society trustees board. My travels out of Appleton got under way with a 9:55 a.m. United Express flight to O’Hare where I connected to a noontime United flight that got me to LaGuardia at 3:06 p.m. With everything unfolding like clockwork, a taxi ride into Lower Manhattan deposited me at the Hampton Inn on Watts Street by 4 o’clock.

At 6 p.m.  Mark Anderson stopped by at the Hampton and we walked to the Aqua Grill a couple blocks away to spend a relaxing couple hours of pleasant conversation over enjoyable dinners before calling it a day. Awakening to rain and thunder laden skies at about 6 a.m. on Friday, I elected to get that day started with the Hampton’s complimentary continental breakfast rather than a constitutional.

At about 8 a.m., with the skies clearing, I embarked on a relatively tranquil stroll up to Midtown by way of Hudson Street and Gansevoort to the south end of the High Line – a recently developed mile long $153 million green-space walkway developed atop an elevated west side industrial railroad structure that was taken out of service in 1980 – exiting onto 10th Avenue at 30th Street. From there my walk took me through the Penn Station area about an hour later and on to Times Square. After spending the better part of three hours doing a bit of shopping, at about noon I headed down Broadway to Union Square, and from there along 4th Avenue and The Bowery to Houston Street.

Following lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen on Houston near 1st Avenue – Katz’s is a traditional deli, reputed to be the city’s oldest, dating from 1888 – I headed over to the nearby Tenement Museum. This museum at 97 Orchard St. is maintained as a National Historic Landmark and National Trust Historic Site in a five-floor structure built in 1863-64 that housed multitudinous immigrant families over the next 70 years, the imposition of stringent housing regulations forcing its abandonment in 1935. From there a stroll of about 20 minutes got me back to the Hampton around 3:30 p.m.

Having put in seven hours on my feet, which certainly more than compensated for skipping out on my morning constitutional, it was time for a nap. It proved to be a dead-to-the-world nap, from which I did not awake until about 7 p.m. Deciding to get a bite to eat before calling it a day, I headed out exploring the TriBeCa area between Canal, Broadway, Chambers and Hudson streets, opting for a Big Mac and frozen strawberry lemonade along the way.

Saturday morning began at 6 a.m. with a constitutional walk and breakfast at the Hampton. I headed over to the ANS offices in the nearby One Hudson Square building at 9:30 a.m. Most of the day was spent in the trustee meeting, which adjourned at 3 p.m. Thereafter, I headed out wandering through the late afternoon madhouses that were Chinatown and the South Street Seaport, closing the outing out with dinner at the Pelea Mexicana. As I spent the evening relaxing in my room, it came to me that through more than 45 years of visiting New York City, I had not hailed a taxi or taken a subway ride, aside from the transits into the city and back to the airport.

On Sunday morning it was off to LaGuardia to catch an 8:30 a.m. United flight to O’Hare. With my noontime connection out of O’Hare departing on time, my Appleton arrival was  a bit early, so I was home by 2 p.m.

Still to come, as this commentary is being polished off for publication, is a trip to Colorado Springs that will dribble into the month of July. I will head out on the last Monday of June to spend six days at  the 43rd annual ANA Summer Seminar. My visit will overlap with the opening days of the second session, but enable me to anticipate returning home in time to spend the closing day of the July 4th holiday weekend  relaxing at home by the lake.

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