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Travels span from Omaha to New York

The destinations and experiences that framed the front and back of my mid-October travels were quite varied. First up was a late September trip to the 50th anniversary convention and banquet of the Illinois Numismatic Association, an abbreviated outing.

Then, the last two weekends of October featured a flying trip to New York City to participate in the annual fall board and membership meetings of the American Numismatic Society, followed by a driving trip to Omaha to participate in a fall seminar hosted by the Central States Numismatic Society in association with the 50th annual show of the Omaha Coin Club, which earlier this year celebrated its 75th anniversary.

My travels to the ILNA event got under way from Iola at about 10 o’clock on Thursday morning. With a stop for lunch at a Cracker Barrel in northwest Milwaukee around noon, I arrived at the convention center in Tinley Park, Ill., at about 3:15 p.m., having driven 256 miles and just missing the 3 o’clock ribbon cutting that opened the 50th ILNA convention to the public.

The convention center is a moderate size affair, just the right size for a 220-table bourse of about 120 dealers.  The show was moved to this new location last year. It is an ideal setup tied into an adjacent Holiday Inn. After settling into my room, I headed over to the convention center where the first familiar faces encountered were those of Jack Huggins, a past president and its historian, secretary Michael Doran and president Frank Zapushek. I spent the balance of the afternoon soaking in the atmosphere of the very vibrant buzz that emanated from every corner of the bourse.

With the bourse closing at 7 p.m., activity shifted to a nearby meeting room where perhaps 100 attendees gathered for ILNA’s 50th anniversary banquet, where I shared a table with dealers  Bob and Sue Rozycki from Sycamore, Tim and Sharon Kyzivat of suburban Chicago, and Numismatic News columnist Michael “Skip” Fazzari. Having been invited to address the banquet – delivering a perspective overview of our hobby community to what appeared to be a very attentive audience – the occasion also provided me with the opportunity to present an ANA Presidential Award to Bill Burd of the Chicago Coin Company, who maintains an extensive library, access to which is extended to serious researchers and casual collectors by appointment.

When the banquet broke up at about 8:30 p.m., I called it a day and returned to my room.

Thus, I was well rested when arising at 5:30 a.m. Friday, looking forward to an aggressive hour long constitutional walking a couple circuits around the perimeter of the hotel and convention center parking lots. It was about 7:30 when I headed down for breakfast in the Holiday Inn’s Bananas dining room, where I enjoyed sharing a table and conversation with Richard Prouty from the Bloomington area.

While the bourse opened to dealers and early birds at 8, it was a half hour or so later before I made my way over there, where casual observation in walking the aisles revealed a healthy mix of slabbed and raw coins, along with paper money and a modest representation of exonumia.

Somewhat before 4 p.m., roughly 24 hours after my arrival, I hit the road north to make it back in time for a Saturday  commitment. I traveled through the suburbs west of O’Hare in an effort to avoid the worst of Friday evening’s rush hour and Tri-State construction traffic. That proved to be pretty much a futile attempt, as it was 6:15 p.m. when I pulled into the Culver’s restaurant at Pleasant Prairie just north of the Wisconsin line for dinner, having driven a grand total of 91 miles in about two-and-a-half hours.

Back on the road about half an hour later, driving the remaining 165 miles home delivered me there at about 9:15 p.m. I was able to get a good night’s rest before heading off on Saturday morning to participate in the second “Historical Think Tank for Waupaca County” assembly, an activity initiated by the Iola Historical Society this past spring to facilitate activities planning throughout the county.

The end of the week following my participation at the American Numismatic Association fall board meeting in Colorado Springs found me heading to New York City to put on my American Numismatic Society hat for the fall trustee and annual membership meetings. That trip got under way on Thursday morning with a 7:30 departure to the Appleton airport to catch a 9:23 flight to O’Hare.

While my flight to O’Hare landed on schedule, because it was consigned to a holding pen for its concourse gate to open, I was left with under 25 minutes to get from the far end of concourse “F” to my connecting flight out of B21 at 11:03 a.m. Although I managed to hike that distance in about 15 minutes, the boarding door had already been closed, resulting in my being rebooked on the 12:03 p.m.  flight out of gate B6, pushing back my scheduled arrival time at LaGuardia to 3:19. With the actual arrival time being about a half hour earlier, my taxi ride into lower Manhattan by way of the Midtown Tunnel put me at the Hampton Inn Manhattan-SoHo on Watts Street shortly after 4 p.m.

Having passed on a midday snack at O’Hare, I headed out for an early dinner at the Aquagrill at 6th Avenue and Spring Street, just a couple blocks away, ending up spending a half hour or so exploring the streets of central SoHo before dinner seating got under way at about 5:30. I enjoyed a relaxing and delicious dinner seated in the Aquagrill’s outside sidewalk cafe setting, returning to the Hampton and calling it a night shortly after 7 p.m.

Friday activities began at about 6 a.m. with a walk down 6th, Church and Trinity streets past the World Trade Center to Battery Park, then up Broadway to Canal Street and back to the Hampton. I spent the balance of the morning working on some paperwork I’d brought along. Somewhat before noon I headed out strolling through the streets of SoHo, Little Italy and Chinatown, spending about an hour doing so before meeting up with SPMC president Mark Anderson for a late, enjoyable and extended lunch at Bar 59 on Mercer Street around 1 p.m., returning to the Hampton mid-afternoon.

At about 5 o’clock I walked over to the ANS offices, located on the 11th floor at 75 Varick Street, where a reception honoring major donor contributors toward the relocation build-out was to get under way at 5:30 p.m. Materializing at about the same time was curator Bob Hogue, along with fellow trustees Jere Bacharach and Peter Thompa, followed by President Roger Siboni and Arthur Houghton, a past president and honorary trustee. With the assembly mounting to perhaps 50 or so, among the several supportive donor dealers in attendance that I enjoyed chatting with were Anthony Terranova, Victor England, Harvey Stack and Harlan Berk.

The reception broke up at about 7 p.m., with most of those in attendance reassembled for dinner, hosted by the Edlow family at the Harvard Club up on 44th Street, on a rainy evening. Kenneth Edlow is a long serving member of the ANS governing board, presently in the capacity of board chairman. His father, Ellis, enjoyed extended official associations with both the ANA and Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association organizations many years ago. Ongoing conversational exchanges over dinner with Siboni and ANS treasurer Sidney Martin filled my evening until breakup around 10 p.m.

On Saturday morning I again hit the streets at 6  for a about an hour walk. It was about 9:30 when I walked over to the ANS offices for the board meeting, with 15 of the 25 board members in attendance, along with three staff members.  We spent the morning dispatching a variety of business issues, followed by a quick catered sandwich buffet for lunch, with an explorative overview of the ANS Web site digitization project in the afternoon.

By the time the meeting adjourned at 2 p.m., members were starting to assemble for the ANS’ 152nd annual meeting at 3 p.m. The 45 or so members in attendance were addressed by executive director Ute Wartenberg Kagan, president Siboni, treasurer Martin, librarian Elizabeth Hahn and the several curators reporting their respective collection area activities for the year. The time was nearing 5 o’clock when I joined the last stragglers in departing. It was raining again, so I unfurled my umbrella and walked to the Bistro Les Amis on Spring Street for dinner before calling it a day.

On Sunday morning I was a really early riser, catching a 4:30 limousine to LaGuardia to catch a 6 o’clock United flight to O’Hare. Arriving there nearly a half hour ahead of schedule, I had nearly three hours to kill before my 10 a.m. United Express commuter flight. Landing in Appleton about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, I arrived home right at noontime.

The following Thursday morning found me hitting the road again, this time on a nine-and-a-half hour drive of 532 miles to Omaha to be a speaker at CSNS’ Fall Seminar hosted in conjunction with the 50th annual show of the 75 year old Omaha Coin Club. Thirty miles of driving on a hazy and overcast morning got me to Plainfield, where I picked up I-39 south to Portage, then cross-country to US-151 at Dodgeville.

Crossing the Mississippi into downtown Dubuque at about 11 a.m., having logged 195 miles, conditions turned to rain, which fell steadily and sometimes hard through the balance of the day. After picking up I-80 west in the Cedar Rapids area, I stopped at about 1:30 p.m. for a late lunch at a Perkins in Newton, about 30 miles east of Des Moines, having logged 363 miles for the day, with nearly 170 to go. Making good time despite the fact that the balance of the drive was into frequently driving rain, it was right at 5 o’clock when I pulled into the Holiday Inn just off I-80 at 72nd Street, a long-time venue for OCC sponsored shows.

After settling into my room, at about 5:30 I headed down to the very quiet Tradewinds dining area for dinner. Shortly after returning to my room about an hour later I received a call from CSNS education director Ray Lockwood, who had recently arrived on the scene as well, whose intentions were to invite me to join he and Fran for dinner. Having already settled into my room to watch the Yankees tie the Phillies up 1-1 in World Series games, I declined to do so.

I got my Friday started at about 6 o’clock with a morning walking regimen down Grover Street to the Keystone Trail, following it north and westerly along the ravine of a small stream to Pacific Street, then up along 72nd Street south back to the Holiday Inn by 7. At 8 I found my way to the Heartland meeting rooms, where a continental breakfast was laid on for the day’s seminar speakers and registrants, of which there were just over 30.

The CSNS Fall Seminar program began at 9 a.m.  with Chris Daughtrey from Springfield, Mo., first up with a detailed and informative “Overview of the Lincoln Cent” as a collectible category. This presentation was followed by Jim McKee from Lincoln, Neb., delivering an interesting and entertaining treatment of “Nebraska’s Wildcat Banks and Banknotes.” Much of the historical record shared by McKee came out of obscure newspaper and archival references.

Following a box lunch break, the third program, “Counterfeit Indians,” was presented by Rick Snow, a widely recognized authority on Flying Eagle and Indian cents, who provided registrants with the opportunity to examine a variety of the more prevalent and deceptive counterfeits, in addition to projecting enlarged details on a screen. Closing out the program, I presented a retrospective on the why and how of the origins of the Standard Catalog of World Coins, then entertained a question and answer session on the activities of the ANA.

At the conclusion of my presentation, I used the occasion to make a trio of recognitions. The first was of an ANA special appreciation certificate recognizing the OCC’s 50th annual show and 75th anniversary as an organization. The second was to personally deliver into the club’s hands their 75 years of ANA membership plaque, which I had accepted on their behalf when it was announced at the Los Angeles convention banquet this past August. The third was an ANA Presidential Award presented to Mitch Ernst, president of the OCC, the oldest local club in Nebraska, who is also vice president of the Nebraska Numismatic Association and editor of its quarterly Journal newsletter, among other involvements.

With the seminar gathering having broken up around 5 p.m., shortly thereafter I joined the Hawks, Francis and Karen, from Hutchinson, Kansas, as their guests for dinner at the La Mesa Mexican Restaurant over in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the east side of the Missouri. We spent the evening enjoying comparing notes on our collecting experiences and mutual acquaintances, which was a real pleasure for me, as I had not previously met the Hawks. We returned to the hotel around 7 and went our separate ways.  

On Saturday morning I again headed out at about 6 o’clock, this time reversing my Friday constitutional route. It was about 8 when I headed down to the Tradewinds for breakfast, where I joined the Lockwoods. At 9 I headed to the bourse, a 30-dealer, 60-table affair, pretty much scouring it to my satisfaction by noon, at which time I drove up to 72nd and Pacific to a Runza restaurant for lunch. Breaking up my afternoon was the task of serving as one of the judges for five single-case competitive exhibits.

With the bourse closing down at 5, I had some time to relax before joining a group of 15 or so for dinner at Caniglia’s Venice Inn. The food was good, as always, but the conversation even better, as I shared a table with show chairman and past OCC president Ron Matson, treasurer Chuck Berger and his wife, Margaret, and the Lockwoods. It was about 9 when the party broke up.

The next morning I headed to a Perkins across the street for breakfast, there briefly exchanging greetings with dealer Clarence McKee from Oskaloosa, Iowa, before hitting the road toward home at about 7 a.m. Heading north out of the Omaha area on I-29, at Missouri Valley  I picked up US-30 tacking northeast to Carroll and from there up to US-20 at Rockwell City. Bisecting the flatlands of central Iowa by way of Ft. Dodge and Waterloo, with the highway being very lightly trafficked most of the way to Dubuque, I arrived there at about 1 p.m., having logged 346 miles.

From Dubuque home I retraced my outbound route of three days earlier, stopping about 20 miles up the road at Platteville, in the heart of southwest Wisconsin’s early 19th century lead mining district, for a late lunch at Culver’s. I arrived home at 5 o’clock, after another long day on the road, but a great day for a sunrise to sunset cross-country drive.

As enjoyable as had been the destinations and experiences I returned home very much looking forward to spending the months of November and December off the road, with the exception of my annual Thanksgiving weekend outing to the Michigan State gathering in Dearborn.

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