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Farmington National 2014 Show Journal by Christian Willis.

July 6, 2014

This was the first show that my dad and I had been able to attend together since my family and I moved out to Colorado in 2010, so we were both really looking forward to it! Maggi and the kids were out in California with her family at Mammoth. I picked my dad up from Denver International Airport on Tuesday evening, and we had dinner in Parker at Hickory House. We then went back to the house and I gave my dad a little tour before we headed to bed.

We awoke at 3:45AM, showered and were on the road by 4:30AM. Just like old times! We drove south on I-25 to Walsenburg, where we took U.S. 160 West to Alamosa. We stopped in Alamosa at McDonald’s for breakfast. Then, we took U.S. 285 South into New Mexico, to U.S. 64 West. At the junction of US 84 and US 64, we had to stop for a photo op with a humorous road sign: a cattle sign with a UFO hovering above it. We must be going the right way!

We arrived at the Red Lion hotel in Farmington around 12:30PM, and checked into our room. The NIA Board meeting had adjourned for lunch, but was back in session by the time I went down to the ballroom. I watched a presentation by the International Lineman’s Museum, and how they would like to partner up with the hobby for publicity and to work towards building a new museum.

I got to experience my first board meeting as the new NIA Information Director. Before I knew it, I was voting on motions. It was a bit surreal! It was also fairly humorous how the agenda items that were supposed to take the least amount of time ended up taking the longest, and vice-versa. Based on everyone I spoke with, this is not uncommon.

After the meeting was adjourned, I headed back up to our room, and we met Bob Stahr down in the hotel restaurant for dinner. We reminisced and discussed insulators, and after dinner Bob and I talked about Hemingray insulators and glassware in his room well into the evening.

7AM came way too soon, but my dad and I got ready and went downstairs for breakfast out in the hotel’s banquet area, and talked to Jules and Dave Brown. After breakfast, we headed over to the show hall, a few miles down the highway at the McGee Park Convention Center.

Determined to see all the tables in one day, started out at the back of the hall and worked my way forward. I picked up several embossings I didn’t have, including a CD 132 MLOB that wasn’t listed in the price guide (2-line patent date, but no mold letter). I said hi to old faces and new, including John and Carol McDougald! (I hadn’t seen them in years). For me, though, the highlight of the day was seeing Francisco, a young boy I had met at the Colorado Springs show a month prior. At that show, he walked up to my son and me and handed him a Hemingray insulator!

I brought along a box of Hemingray insulators to the show to give Francisco, in case he wanted them. Francisco and his friend went through the insulators, and ended up keeping them all. I walked around the show with them and showed them other Hemingrays I thought they might be interested in seeing, including a rare Hemingray Type 1.

Francisco was very appreciative and said that I could have anything on his sales table, so I chose an insulator refrigerator magnet and a Christmas ornament. Bob Stahr even gave him a couple of Hemingray glass blocks from the factory. I also settled up with Bob for doing the artwork for the past two GCIC awards. I got a carnival Universal Home Bottle and a 1 quart Save with Ice refrigerator bottle. I also purchased some glass blocks in patterns I didn’t have (ones that were actually in use at the Muncie factory).

Around lunchtime, my dad got a hot dog and some nachos, and after having some I was back at it. I picked up a few more cheap embossings here and there, including a nice light aqua CD190/191 Two Piece Transposition with matching AM. TEL. blotouts.

I also went outside to tour the International Lineman’s Museum trailer. It had a lot more insulators than I was expecting, and quite a bit of hardware I had never seen before. I also picked up a CD 257 Mickey Mouse for my lineman cousin, Justin.

That afternoon, we attended the NIA general membership meeting, where I was introduced as the new NIA Information Director.  Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel for a bit. We went to dinner at Village Inn across the street, and brought pie back with us. I updated my Hemingray database with the new embossings I had acquired, and then went to sleep.

The next morning, we got to sleep in (yay!) and had our pies for breakfast. We headed over to the show hall and I was back at it again. There were only a couple of tables I hadn’t looked at carefully yet: Kevin Jacobson’s table full of Patent Dec. 19 1871’s, and Duane Davenport’s table full of H.G.CO. beehives. I tackled those today, and came away with several more embossings I didn’t have. My two favorites were the CD 124 Dec. Pat. with “A” on the F-Skirt instead of the R-Skirt (only one I’ve seen so far), and a CD 145 H.G.Co. with the “Bar/Bar” blotouts (also the only one I’ve seen to date).

At this point I was content with my purchases, and had a hot dog for lunch and sat and talked with my dad. We headed back to the hotel and ate at Denny’s across the street for dinner. We decided not to go to Tommy Bolack’s ranch to see the fireworks display that evening, as we would be getting up early the next morning to tour his home (we signed up for the 7-8AM tour, as all the other time slots we could attend were filled.) Fortunately for us, the fireworks were perfectly visible from our hotel room, so we got to see the show anyway! It was a very impressive display.

Saturday morning was there before we knew it, and we got up early to head to Tommy’s Square B ranch, situated about halfway between the hotel and the show hall. We grabbed breakfast down in the lobby, and were over at the ranch house by 7. We drove through the property, amazed at the sheer size of it all. Peacocks roamed freely, and the road paralleled a lake with dozens of geese. Fortunately, I had checked out the property on Google Maps the night before, so I knew roughly where I was heading. We wound our way back through the unmarked roads, passing his various museums, until we reached the house. The previous tour was just wrapping up, and Tommy welcomed us and showed us in.

The first room contained hundreds of mostly foreign pieces, and then around the other side was a mixture of foreign and U.S. glass, including a couple of Hemingray pieces I had never seen in person before: a CD 185.2 B.E.L.Co. and a CD 1030 with lag screw. There was also a wide variety of CD 317’s in amazing colors. Little did I know, we were only getting started!

Next, we were directed upstairs to Tommy’s bedroom, past hundreds more insulators lined up in the windows and out on the deck. There was another display case above his bedroom, including a couple one-of-a-kind Hemingrays: CD 317.9 and 317.8/313. From there we moved into the upstairs den, where the heart of the collection was. Hundreds of insulators adorned the main display cases, and I was picking out rare Hemingray pieces all over, some in colors I had never seen before (except in the price guide of course). Among the other cool items in the room was a vintage barber chair, hundreds of watthour meters, and an actual Gatling gun!

We moved back downstairs into the living room area, where even more rare pieces were displayed (mostly one-of-a-kinds). Some of the Hemingrays I had never seen in person were now mere inches away (probably the closest I will ever get!) Among the pieces: CD 115.1, 155.6, 176.9, 196.2, 196.5, 271, 286.9, 309, 309.5, and 317.7. WOW! Some of the other interesting items in the room: a coffin for a coffee table, a tombstone, a Sho-Bud pedal steel guitar, racks full of 45 records, and his own radio station broadcasting table.

After the tour, we thanked Tommy and headed back to the hotel to check out. Then we drove back over to the show hall to say our goodbyes to everyone. I had had my eye on a really pretty blue CD 1104 spool sitting on Dwayne Anthony’s table. I had never seen one that vibrant, and it was still there. For $9, I had to get it. (Later, I checked the price guide and found cornflower blue was indeed listed at $40-50. Not bad!)

We filled up the gas tank and were on our way, heading East to Bloomfield on U.S. 64. From there, we went north on U.S. 550 and drove through Durango, Silverton, and Ouray, which were all packed with tourists (and barely an antique shop in sight, a far cry from our last trip through there in the 90’s.) We drove on and stopped in antique shops in Ridgway and Montrose, and took U.S. 50 East to Cañon City, then north on CO 115 (passing by Juniper Valley Ranch) and stopped in Colorado Springs for dinner at Cracker Barrel.

Finally, we were on the home stretch! We arrived in Castle Rock just after the sun had set. It was a great show and a great road trip with my dad!


This was part of our drive. Very scenic!

Looks like we're on the right road!

Part of the show hall. Glass as far as the eye can see!

Part of the Int'l Lineman's Museum trailer.

Only a portion of Tommy Bolack's staggering collection.

Tommy's trademark "aqua mound" at his museum.

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