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Kansas City National 2012 Show Journal by Christian Willis.

June 24, 2012

Being my first National in 16 years (the last one I attended was the 1996 Long Beach show at the age of 16), I was really looking forward to attending this show! In order to fit my display, sales stock, suitcases, and 2 kids, we rented a Dodge Caravan for the trip. I loaded up the van the night before, and at 5 AM Thursday morning, we departed from my parents-in-law's house, driving from Parker CO to Kansas City, MO in about 10 hours. We stopped a few times along the way (breakfast in Colby, gas near Wilson, lunch at Cracker Barrel in Junction City), and finally arrived at the KCI Expo Center around 4:15PM.

We checked into the Holiday Inn next door, unloaded our bags, and then I began the arduous task of setting up my display and sales table, trying hard to finish before 9PM so I could beat the inevitable crowd on Friday morning. Meanwhile, Maggi helped by watching the kids. While setting up my display, I spoke with Mike Doyle and Bill Snell, the exhibits coordinator, and was surprised to learn that exhibits were no longer anonymous; now, 5 points are actually deducted if you don't include a biography. (Exhibit rules have certainly changed since 1996; guess I should go read the by-laws again!) I thanked them and quickly rushed up to my room to hammer out a quick pic and bio that I could place on the display table in the morning.

Friday morning came way too quickly, and I was up again at 6AM (5AM Denver time), and into the show hall by 7. Dealers were already setting up, and it was off to the races. I started visiting random tables, but quickly realized that this method would never work with such a large show hall (sad how out of practice I am!) I began working the tables one "bank" at a time, and said "hi" to old faces and new: Bob Stahr, Bill & Jill Meier, Dwayne Anthony, Tom & Lynda Katonak, Howard & Linda Banks, and Dennis & Paulette Kotan. It was also great to finally put faces to names with countless other collectors I have corresponded with and purchased insulators from on ICON. I was also privileged to meet Mr. N.R. "Woody" Woodward, the creator of the CD numbering system.

A few hours into the show, Bill Meier asked if he and Woody could compare an unlisted CD 100.6? Pyrex dome variant with the No Name CD 100.6 from my display, and I was happy to help. It was very interesting to see the discussion of the possibility of a new CD number, but it sounded like ultimately the piece was similar enough to a 100.6 that it would be listed as such (even though the head is slightly thicker).

In my first day alone, I bought a whopping 19 pieces, including an unlisted CD 120 with a large "A" on the dome, several upgrades, and a CD 1095 and a CD 126.3 [020] from Colin Jung, both of which I had been seeking for years. He said he purchased the CD 1095 from a bottle collector who dug it from a privy. By far, though, the best purchase of the day was an embossing I wondered if it even existed: a CD 280 [025], with "TRIPPLE" blotted out. Well, I finally found one, and it was mint to boot! I had to do a double take, after looking at dozens of CD 280's over the years for this elusive embossing. I showed it to Bill Meier and Bob Stahr so we all know it exists for sure now!

On the sales front, I sold around 20 insulators and made about $150. Not too shabby! Maggi and the kids had headed up to the room around 1:30PM for their naps, and at 4PM the show hall closed. I headed over to the Ambassador Room for the NIA General Membership Meeting.

On Saturday morning, I arrived at the show hall at 9AM, and despite 9 being the opening time, I was one of the last to arrive and uncover my table. It turned out to be another big day for purchases, as I finally got around to seeing every sales table in the convention center. Another 13 pieces entered my collection, including an incredible sleeper: a CD 134 [045] Hemingray-18 with SHARP drip points! It was another piece Bob, Bill, and I had never seen before now.

On a roll now, I also came across an unlisted CD 120 Dec. Pat. with both a circle in the center of the dome, AND a large, distinct "C" or "G" embossed mid-way between the dome circle and the F-Crown! Neither Bob Stahr nor Roger Lucas had ever seen anything like it.

Finally, to top it all off, over at Ken Roberts' table I found an unlisted CD 125 embossing with "PAT" blotted out under "DEC".  He had three more of that same mold, so I alerted Bob Stahr and Jill Meier, who also added one to their collections.

I sold a few more pieces and the last of my Laugh Lines books (yay!). At 4PM, we called it another day, and headed back up to the room to freshen up for the banquet and awards ceremony in the Ambassador Room at 5:30PM. When the time came, we headed down and sampled the some two dozen different barbeque sauces at the sampling tables. My personal favorites were "Night of the Living BBQ" (very hot!) and "Cow Town" BBQ sauce, which was very thick.

Maggi, the kids, and I sat down at one of the banquet tables and felt like a group of lepers as the other collectors (rightfully) avoided a table with a fussy toddler and a baby (go figure—I don't blame them a bit!) Bob Stahr and Roger Lucas had pity on us and joined us. :) We had a nice barbeque dinner with salad, beef brisket, green beans, beans, cheesy corn casserole, and corn bread, with pie or cake for dessert.

Maggi and the kids headed back to the hotel room for the award ceremony, while I stuck around nervously for the award announcements. Much to my happiness, I won the first place award for the Specialty category! I also got to see the first three inductees into the newly-formed NIA Hall of Fame, including Woody who was on-hand to accept the award. It had its emotional moments, and was very touching to see what a close-knit family this hobby really is behind the scenes.

Sunday morning, I relaxed at my sales table. I had seen every Hemingray insulator in that show hall, right? I couldn't possibly need to buy any more pieces. Yeah, right. I made my rounds once again, and lo and behold, found a couple tables I had neglected to fully peruse the days before. I wound up with another 6 pieces, including a CD 221 Hemingray 680 Lowex treated top dump piece for $100 (50% off the marked price) that I simply couldn't resist (I'm a sucker for dump specimens!) It was a whole piece, and definitely an upgrade to the one that broke on Richard Dawson's table at the 2007 Merzoian Tailgater.

A few more pieces on my sales table sold, which helped to offset the 38 (!) new pieces I was coming home with. So much for coming home lighter… who am I kidding? I had donated my last Laugh Lines book available to the raffle, and fortunately there was enough interest that somebody won it. Around noon, sales tables and displays started closing down, and I got permission from the show host to start teardown early, seeing as we had a drive ahead of us.

It was a scorching 100+ degrees outside (plus humidity) which made it really difficult to load up the car, but we got it done and were saying our goodbyes and hitting the road by 2:30PM. We drove all the way to Salina, Kansas, where we would spend the night at the Rodeway Inn, just a few miles away from my favorite place to eat in Kansas: Western Sizzlin'!

Now, the first time I ate at Western Sizzlin was in 2011 when we drove to Branson, Missouri with Maggi's family. I made it a point to go back here because the food was just that good. I practically starved myself the entire day just so I could have enough room for steak, salad, cheesy potato casserole, cheese rolls,  tater tot hamburger casserole, and for dessert: bread pudding, peach cobbler, and cherry turnover. They didn't have smoked sausage this time, but I was still in heaven! After dinner we headed back to the motel room and tried to cool off. It was now 107 degrees outside.

In the morning we had breakfast at the motel and headed out around 9:30AM, stopping a few times along the way for gas and such. We got home about 2:30PM to 100+ degree temperatures in Colorado, but at least there's no humidity here. This will definitely be a show to remember! Now where to put all these insulators until we move into our new house next week…

Click here to view my display and handout.


The whole family at our sales table.

My display, "Undercover Hemingrays"

Accepting my participant plaque

Accepting my 1st Place - Specialty category award

Fellow Hemingray collector Bob Stahr and me

N.R. "Woody" Woodward and me

Fellow Hemingray collector Bill Meier and me

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