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Trips Bolster Collection, Friendships
By Clifford Mishler, Numismatic News
February 06, 2014

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Thanksgiving Day found me on the road headed to the Detroit area to attend the Michigan State Numismatic Association’s 58th annual fall convention, my 38th consecutive annual attendance. Nothing really new or surprising about that. As I did last year I drove there, however, rather than flying, as I have typically done over most of that time.

The only difference, really, was the reality that this was in marketing circles being called Thanksgivukkah Day, a truly once in a lifetime development, playing on the confluence of Thanksgiving and the first full day of Hanukkah; it happened for the first and only previous time in 1888, and is calculated to not happen again for another 79,000 years or so, according to most calculations! Nobody alive today experienced the prior occasion; by the time it happens again, Thanksvivukkah Day 2013 will likely be less than a footnote in history.

My day got under way at about 7 o’clock in the morning as I put the Town Car on the road with light snow flurries is the air, the local countryside having been blanketed with upwards of an inch of snowfall overnight, our first real snowfall of the season. By nine I was in Milwaukee’s south metro area on I-94, having logged 135 miles in light traffic as I passed the Mitchell Field airport turnoff. Another half hour carried me to the Illinois line and the Tri-State Tollway, which connected to the Edens, Kennedy, Ryan and Skyway expressways, putting me at the Indiana line after 230 elapsed miles at 10:30.

The next 20-odd miles were driven on the Indiana Toll Road before dropping off and back onto I-94 for the onward drive into Michigan with sunny skies breaking out. With kickoff of the Packers-Lions football game arriving soon thereafter, I listened to the first half over WTMJ out of Milwaukee. The second half got really ugly, with the Packers succumbing 40-10, but I didn’t have to suffer through much of the unfolding picture as the play-by-play broadcast reception over Michigan stations was intermittent. The game had mercifully ended by the time I pulled up at the MSNS convention site at about 4 o’clock, the Macomb Community College Expo Center in the northeast Detroit suburb of Warren, having lost an hour on the clock as my travels passed from the Central to the Eastern time zone. I’d driven 505 miles door-to-door in right on eight hours.

Brian Malnar, MSNS vice president and convention coordinator for several prior years, directing traffic outside the MCCEC, was the first familiar face encountered. With dealer setup having gotten formally underway shortly before, at the entrance I exchanged greetings with the new convention coordinator Brian Tideswell and Society secretary-treasurer Joe LeBlanc. Next up were president Julie Wostyn and exhibits chairman Frank Passic. Having been accorded a complimentary table at which I could hold forth dispensing sample copies of the News and other Krause periodicals, along with ANA membership information, thereafter I spent some time chatting with tabled dealers Jim Beach, Paul Cunningham, Leon Thornton, Bob Williams and others before calling it a day.

With the setup session scheduled to close down shortly, at about 6:30 I headed over to claim my overnight accommodations at a Residence Inn about four miles away off Van Dyke Avenue. After settling into my room I headed over to the nearby Limelight Grill & Bar, a sports bar watering hole, where I contented myself with a Cobb salad and order of potato skins, along with a tall draft beer, despite having passed on stopping for lunch on the way over from Wisconsin. It was about 9 o’clock when I returned to the Residence Inn to call it a day.

It was about 6:30 on a rather frigid morning when my Saturday got under way putting in a constitutional wandering about the streets of the adjoining Warren Civic Center area. Returning to the Residence Inn about an hour later, I availed myself of the available complimentary breakfast selections before heading over to the MCC facility, arriving there around 9 o’clock, by which time virtually all of the dealer tables appeared set for the 10 o’clock opening bell. With my table being adjacent to that of the venerable Ray Dillard, I was able to spend some time kibitzing with him about his role as the hobby’s number one proponent of elongated coins and the politics of the hobby.

Stopping by for visits before the public opening were old friends Al Bobrofsky from Battle Creek and Bill Brandimore, a native Detroiter who transplanted to Wisconsin several years ago, but who never misses the opportunity to return to Michigan over Thanksgiving weekend to share some time with family and taking in this event. During this time I also found the opportunity to break away long enough to wander over to the table of classics dealer Don Zauche from northern Maryland, a favored destination of mine when he has table at shows I attend, his wife Marcella dispenses some of the finest homemade chocolates one can possibly imagine!

Sitting behind my table, just to the left of the entrance as I viewed it, when the bourse was opened to the public, my estimation would be that well over 300 visitors were queued up. I further observed that as the traffic flowed in, on a ratio that I’d judge to be roughly 4-to-1, the attendees turned to the right past my location. With traffic at the registration table having slowed to a crawl, I later enjoyed receiving a visit from one of the volunteers, Dave Ferries of the co-hosting Royal Oak Coin Club. For the day, I’m told registrations were north of 1,000, so the floor was very active throughout the day.

It was about 1 o’clock when I took off for a late lunch with Mark and Martine Askew at Andrea’s Garden restaurant a short drive away up on 12 Mile Road, enjoying the meatloaf lunch dish offering, along with about an hour and a half of relaxing largely non-numismatic conversation. Mark is an acquaintance made back in my days of attending the bi-annual international Mint Directors’ Conference gatherings, his background being on the supplier side of the minting field. For well over a decade I’ve enjoyed hooking up with him at MSNS on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, as he is professionally based in Detroit but lives across the river in Windsor.

Returning to the convention, I found the bourse still abuzz with activity. Among the conversations enjoyed during the balance of the afternoon was one with Sandy Pearl, who is serving as secretary to the ANA board during president Walter Ostromecki’s term. Hailing from Florida he is a regular attendee at the MSNS fall show, providing as it does the opportunity to visit family in the area. I also spent some time surveying the offerings in the exhibits area. Activity was winding down by the time I took leave at about 5:30 to return to the Residence Inn for a short break before heading over to the dealer reception about an hour later.

This year’s dealer reception was held at Michelle’s, a mile or so out Van Dyke. There I joined a table that included Michigan paper dealers Larry and Joe Falater from Allen and Pat Heller and a couple of his associates from Liberty Coin in Lansing. The buffet spread provided was tasty and filling. With the gathering winding down by shortly after eight, I headed back to the Residence Inn and called it a day.

My Saturday morning constitutional got underway at about 6 o’clock on a pleasant morning with a walk out to Van Dyke, down to 12 Mile, over to Lorraine, up to 13 Mile, then in and back to the Residence Inn about an hour later. It was about eight when I drove over to the nearby National Coney Island restaurant, where I was joined by Royal Canadian Numismatic Association executive director Paul Johnson from the Toronto area and Brett Irick who serves as director for south-central Ontario. We were meeting to discuss a joint “Hands Across the Border” hobby community promotion that is underway to tie the coincidental timings of the 2014 ANA convention in Chicago and the RCNA convention in Toronto together for enhanced cross-over participation, Brett and I having been tabbed as the RCNA and ANA liaisons for the initiative.

It was about 10 o’clock when we concluded our discussions and headed off to spend the balance of the day at the convention venue. Between then and noon I spent a considerable amount of my time checking out the exhibits area for a second time, as I had been tabbed to participate as a member of the panel that would perform the best-of-show exhibit judging later in the afternoon. I also became engaged in a lengthy conversation with one of the table holders -- John Oliver who does business as Treasure of Significance out of Trenton -- during the course of which we exchanged thoughts on the hobby’s changing coin show and marketing perspectives.

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Having taken lunch at the concession stand on the bourse, my afternoon was dominated with meeting attendances. First up was the one o’clock educational program presentation by now Minnesota dealer and ANA board member Gary Adkins on club roles in growing the hobby. He reflected on the fact that he was first exposed to the coin club phenomenon in Michigan in 1958 -- at the nearby GM Tech Center in Warren -- his father having taken him there as a youngster. His bottom line; “Seek out a coin club you like and contribute to it; you’ll enjoy and benefit from the participation.” This and the subsequent meetings I sat in on during the course of the afternoon attracted attendances in the 10 to 15 range.

Next up for me was another educational program, this one by Brett Irick at 2:30, a hands on presentation providing an introduction to Canadian numismatics, which I had to cut out of quite early to sit in on the Mich-TAMS meeting set for 3 p.m. The final meeting of the afternoon was that of the Paper Money Collectors of Michigan at which Bill Brandimore was installed as president. Sandwiched between and around these meetings was time spent dispatching the best-of-show exhibit judging tasks.

Activity around the bourse was winding down by 5:30 when I took leave to return to the Residence Inn and a bit of relaxation. At 7 p.m. I joined up with Ron Sirna from Flint for dinner at the Italian restaurant Andiamo on 14 Mile Road. Ron has spent considerable time over the past eight years or so addressing the legal issues of Michigan State, the Central States organization and the ANA, so our conversations are always wide ranging and thought provoking. On this occasion we held the conversations and evening to two hours.

Again heading out for my morning constitutional for Sunday at about 6 o’clock, this time I again explored the environs of the Warren Civic Center area for about an hour. This morning breakfast was at 8:30, at the Expo Center, where longevity memberships and exhibitors were recognized. The program stretched out to about two hours with 80 or so in attendance. I joined a table that included Al Raddi, Joe Paonessa and his son Jason from southeastern Wisconsin, along with Ray Dillard and son-in-law Greg Weisgerber. Also seated at the table were Carl Reff and his wife, Donna, the latter gaining recognition as a MSNS 40-year member. It was my privilege to present Donna with her 40-year pin, as I had been asked to participate in the longevity presentations part of the program.

Having said my goodbyes, it was about noon when I stepped over to the concession stand for a light snack before hitting the road. By 12:30 I had the Town Car on the road. A three-hour drive of 194 miles, by way of I-94 to Kalamazoo and then US-131 and M-60, found me pulling up at the home of my cousin and his wife outside of Cassopolis for a quick visit. There I was treated to a great meal of homemade meatloaf, topped off with a slice of apple pie. It was about 5 o’clock when I took leave and headed out to pick up the Indiana Toll Road at a nearby entry point. Some 160 miles later at about 7:30, having travelled through Chicago via the Skyway, Ryan, Kennedy and Edens expressways, then the Tri-State Tollway, I crossed the state line back into Wisconsin on I-94.

From there it was a straight run home – about 170 miles – arriving there at about 10:15 p.m.. I’d logged 521 miles for the day. Traffic was heavy for the first 400 or so, until clearing Milwaukee’s northwest suburbs. The total mileage log for the weekend was 1,078. The log of new and renewed friendships, and satisfactions realized uncounted!

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