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1996 Long Beach National Personal Show Journal by Christian Willis.

This journal was written on Sunday, July 21, 1996.

I just got home from the show about a little over an hour ago. This, by far, has been the best show I have ever attended.

We arrived Thursday night around 7:00 PM to set up my display. (This display was my second ever, and my first national display.) In this display, I was sure to bolster my educational side. (Education counts 30 points, one-third of your judging grade.) We had a little trouble getting to the back of the hotel, where the loading docks were, to unload. There was such a steep dip in the entrance to the loading dock area, we couldn’t drive the van in there, because the propane tank would scrape on the ground. After we found a place to "park", we found a dolly to unload all of the stuff. The show was on the second floor, and, after working my way through a maze of back hallways, found the service elevator to the second floor. As soon as I found my way into the Sicilian Room, the main display room, I saw Dave Hall, one of the show hosts. I asked where I could put my display (it was a "first come first serve" deal: there were no assigned tables for displays.) He said that there were two choices: I could either share a table with someone else... I then told him that I needed plenty of floor space for my History Boards and Handouts. He then pointed me to the only other open display table: an alcove with cabinets and a black marble top in the back corner of the room. Dave said that I could use that one, and that it was perfect for my display. It, indeed, was a great place. Not only did I have plenty of floor space, but my countertop was seven, not six, feet. I put up my display, and was finished by about 10:00 PM, when they locked the doors to the Sicilian Room.

The next day, Friday, we drove up to Long Beach and made about a half an hour early. We renewed our memberships (in order to get in that day, because Friday was for members only) and went in at 9:00 AM. The first thing I bought was, no, not a sign, but the CD106 Hemingray Nº9 in Dark Purple that Ron Norton had saved for me. As soon as we got to his table, he said that about six people had already come up to him and asked him if it was for sale. (It was hidden behind one of his display cabinets, but I guess people even look there, too.) I definately bought the piece, and thanked Ron profusely. After the attempted trade of my "Light Jade" H.G.Co. CD160 for the Hemingray No Name TS3 with the insert failed, my dad came over and said that someone would like to see it. After going over to his table, I saw that the man had a Hemingray-23 in Red Amber that was pretty much mint, and so I asked if he’d consider a trade. It was successful! That was my second addition to my display of that day. [Looking back, I'm still kicking myself for making that trade.] I looked around for a while longer, and then purchased a fiberglass Danger Sign that read: High/ Voltage/ Keep/ Away. On either side of the print was a picture: the one on the left showed a man being shocked by a red lightning bolt in a black triangle. The picture to the right showed a man walking and a red circle and a red slash through him (that symbol stands for "No Entry", "Keep Away", etc.). Overall, it’s a pretty neat sign. Since I now had a new Hemingray Nº9 in a dark purple, I could now get rid of my older piece, a greyish sort of purple, that had some damage on the upper wire groove lip. I saw a man with a Hemingray-E.3. (!!!) in lemon, and I wanted it bad, but was greatly dissapointed when I saw the price tag: $100. I was determined to get it. I asked him if he’d be willing to trade a CD106 Hemingray Nº9 in Purple and $25 cash for that piece. After looking very doubtful at my piece and saying "well..." quite a few times, he leaned back asked John MacDougald at the table right behind him how much my insulator went for in the book. John said, "with the damage... about $65." The man said to me, "I’ll tell you what. Give me $35 and the insulator, and it’s a deal." I said, "Sold!" and bought it. Considering I only paid $40 for the CD106 at the Visalia Show, I basically paid $75 for a Hemingray-E.3. in dead mint. (and beautiful color, too!) That was my third insulator buy of the show to add to my display there. Already, my display had increased in value $250.00 just from the three I had bought. Throughout the day, I had continually gone over to Butch Haltman’s table, where there was a beautiful CD302 Hemingray Nº75 in Hemingray Blue. The price: $50.00. Great. I’ve almost spent all of my money. This piece was mint also, and a beautiful piece on top of it. The CD302 Hemingray Muncie in aqua is worth about $20-30. If it has the "Nº75" embossing on it in aqua makes it automatically worth $50-75. Because it is in Hemingray Blue makes it worth $75-100, the rarest and best of the CD302’s that you can get. I bought it. Butch talked it down to $45, which was a steal. I couldn’t refuse. That was the fourth insulator buy of Friday. My display just went up another $100.00 in value. Also, looking under one of the tables in the "Bargain Bins," I saw an oddity: a CD115 Hemingray-10 in clear, nothing special, until I looked on the back. Instead of having the traditional "Made in U.S.A.," all it had was numbers (the mold number and the date of manufacture) in the same large size as the "Hemingray-10" on the front skirt! Striking me as odd, I looked it up in the price guide. It said "$10-15"! I bought it for $2. I took it over to Bob Stahr, the expert on Hemingray embossing variations. He said that I got a good one, and that, to the untrained eye, it would look like a normal $1 Hemingray-10. He then told me that there are only three styles (not insulators) known to have the "numbers only." He also said that the next year that those three styles were manufactured a dot was added to the date, and the words "Made in U.S.A." were added under the numbers in smaller print. He also added that no one to this date has a complete collection of all mold numbers of the "large number variants." Interesting. I did not put that in my display, for there was no color, and looked like a $1 insulator to the untrained eye. That was all for that day. I went into the Sicilian room, turned out my lights, and we drove home.

The next morning, Saturday, I walked in the room, and the first thing I saw was a Danger sign I didn’t have. It read: This Equipment is / Remote Controlled / May Start at Any Time. The price tag was marked $20.00. I found out it was Dave Hall’s table. After discussing it with my dad, we decided to take my remaining $9.00, my dad would give me another $5.00, and we would ask if Dave would take $14.00 for the sign. Dave said "For you, I’ll take ten!" My dad gave me $1.00 and said not to worry about paying his dollar back. I thanked Dave profusely!! Also, talking with Bob Stahr, he said that he didn’t believe that the sleeves on the H.G.Co. stacker that was in Butch’s collection belonged with the top piece. He then pulled out a suspension pin from under his table with four suspension insulators on it. They looked identical to the stacker sleeves! Bob said he bought the set of four from Butch for $100! (They are unique [as of this journal; since then other specimens have surfaced].) Later on, I was walking around with Jim Barton, and we went over to Dwayne Anthony’s table. He had quite a few nice Hemingrays, including a purple Hemingray Nº12, which I did not see, or I would have bought it. Jim bought it, and showed it to me later. Jim also picked up a CD116 and said "This is in better condition than mine!" After putting it down, I picked it up and realized it was a Hemingray product! Wow!! It had a December patent, May patent, and a patent applied for. It was marked $45. Unfortunately, I had no money left. I begged my dad to buy it then and I would pay him back later. He did, and Dwayne gave it to me for $40 (and he gave me a CD106 blot out with no charge.) My display just went up about another $75.00 in value. The judges hadn’t come around yet, so I got permission from Dwayne to add it to my collection with his supervision. That was my fifth addition to my display at that show. I can’t remember now if it was before or after the judges came through that I found another great deal: a "Hemingray • Nº • 40 •" in about Milky Aqua for $20! My dad and I debated long and hard whether to get it or not. I was already $40 in debt to my dad. We finally decided on getting it because it was such a good deal. There was some damage to the insulator, but it could be displayed to show off it’s "milk swirl side" and show off very little damage. The guy gave it to us for $18. I was now $56.00 in debt, but my display just went up another $100.00 in value. That was my sixth insulator bought at the show, and my last buy for that day. Also, Keith was there and had a truckload of insulators outside.

That night at the banquet, I had ravioli stuffed with lobster meat. (It really wasn’t that bad; it tasted like normal ravioli to me.) Pappy, Aunt Sissy, my mom, and Lim were there, too. The banquet started around 6:30 PM, and didn’t finish until around 11:00 PM, which was about the time I played the piano as the closing entertainment. Throughout the course of events that evening, I recieved a plaque for First Place in the Junior Category (I was the only Junior that displayed, again! Oh well, maybe some day.) I knew that I’d get that award, but was totally shocked when I recieved the "Show Host’s Choice Award." I have it all on video tape, of course. That award was an onyx double pen "desk set," which will forever be found on my desk. Throughout the evening, there was an on-running gag of spoons "dropping" every time someone sat down or got up to recieve their award (at least in the back of the room.) At the very, very, end of the banquet, I played Pine Apple Rag, which was flawless, and then played Chopin’s Polonaise in g minor, and then to end the evening, Maple Leaf Rag. I have never been complimented so much in my entire life, and I bet I never will get so many compliments again. Everyone, even the Mac Dougalds, came up to me and congratulated me and complimented me on my "fine playing" and the awards I received. That night, instead of going home, we went about five blocks down Ocean Avenue, and spent the night at Aunt Nika’s house.

The next morning, Sunday, the last day of the show, we got to the show and just expected to lie back and relax, since I had no more money. In the days previous at the show, I had met Shaun Kotlarsky, also a Hemingray collector. He is one year older than me, has been collecting for five years also, and we have both same interests. (If that isn’t irony, what is? The only two serious kid Hemingray collectors in the nation with the same interests! I especially liked it when we could "talk technically" and understand each other! Today, he came into the Sicilian Room, where I was sitting, and we got to talking, and we walked all around the show. Somehow we got separated talking to someone else, and when we saw each other again later, he asked me if I wanted to go down to Keith’s car. I said "sure," (even though I had no money), just to see what Keith had. Once we figured out where his truck was, all you could see were insulators surrounding the truck. One of the first things I noticed was a five dead-end spool holder, on which he had five various (Hemingray) dead-end spools. I saw, from a distance, as we were walking towards his truck, that one of the dead-end spools was aqua, something I didn’t see very often, even though it’s not very rare. Keith had a lot of interesting pieces, including a melted down white milk CD128 dump piece. Among other Hemingrays, there was a CD219 Hemingray-66 in red amber, in just about mint, (unheard of for a dump piece!) I believe it was marked for $40, so I didn’t get it. I do, in the future, hope to get that one if he shows up at a Bakersfield show or something [never did, and I never got it. I also regret not having bought that piece!].

Anyway, Shaun and I were looking at insulators that Keith had, and I looked over at the dead-end spools on that rack that I had seen from a distance. I looked at all the embossings on the insulators. Nothing unusual, and then I came to the last one. Upon looking at it’s embossing, I said to myself, "This is not normal!" Then it hit me: the normal embossings on the Hemingray Nº109 dead-end spools was normally "Hemingray-109". But this one said, "(Front) Hemingray (Rear) Nº109"! I thought it was a real oddity, so I asked Keith if he would take $5 for it. He said "sure", so I went back to the show and got $5 dollars from my dad and came back and bought the insulator. When I went back to the show, I stopped to show Bob Stahr (the Hemingray embossings expert). He said that he had never seen that embossing before, and of all the "Nº109" embossing variants he had, he did not have one in aqua. I went on and asked a couple other people, including Mr. MacDougald and Bill Meirs. Bill Meirs said that the only one he had said "(F-Umbrella) Hemingray / Made in U.S.A. (R-Umbrella) Nº109. He said for the fact that "Made in U.S.A." is missing, probably means that the piece that you just bought was made around 1915, because "Made in U.S.A." wasn’t put on Hemingrays until 1921. I thanked him for telling me. So far, I have a unique Hemingray insulator! What a great way to end a show!

[Note: Another highlight of the show which I failed to mention in my original journal was the fact that I got to actually hold a CD 130.2 Seiler's, one of the rarest Dec. Pat. styles made. It took a lot of guts to dare hold a $10,000 insulator!]

At around 3:00 PM, my dad rushed outside and got us a "parking" spot right outside the loading docks. We took a dolly and tore down my display. We were done and on the road at around 3:30 PM, and were home around 4:15 PM.


Standing next to my display.

My display.

Show hosts Dwayne Anthony and Dave Hall with me.

Shaun Kotlarsky and I looking at Hemingrays!

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