I missed out on the “Greater Portland Postcard & Paper Collectibles Show” last year by an hour. I showed up late and everybody was tearing their tables down. Much sadness was felt. I marked the deal on my calendar and have been counting down the days ever since and this time around, I made it.
Excited as hell, I got there right when the thing opened. I mean, some people freak out at highly-priced concerts. Some people freak out at sweaty amusement parks. Hell, some even freak out online playing wild fantasy games like, “World of Warcraft.” Me, I freak out over old paper items. There you go. You know the deal.
A good 40 vendors or so had their tables all set up and ready to go. The place maybe had 20 people walking around perusing the goods, so, the first thing you think is, “Who the hell’s buying this stuff?”
I hit the first table and started digging. I’m not too much of a postcard guy so, that cut down a lot of the material at hand. I’d make my way for the wood boxes full of goodies, or, the ever-amazing “$1.00 bins.” You know, looking for “cool, old stuff.” Simple enough.
Going to these things is like going to a museum. There is so much to see. Colors, type, inks…and man, I just can’t get enough of it. A five-dollar admission for a glance at so many great items? Done. Kinda weird when you think about it.
So while I’m walking around, I’m hearing these loud bursts of the most amazing well-wishing sentiments. Some guy’s rattling off the most amazing quotes and suddenly I’m like Hoss and dropping everything and jotting them down in my Field Notes. With each sale or conversation’s end he’d stare down each proprietor down with his lazy eye and announce, “And to you kind sir, I wish you a day of happy hunting.” So good. More about this guy later.
Overheard, walking by a table: “You know, with my diabetes and all…”
Overheard, in a corner of the gym: “Don’t cost nothing to look.”
So I sat down for a little lunch…
… and in no time the “Quotable One” was sitting across from me.
My new buddy Jim was going on and on about a food stamp he found a couple tables over, “This food stamp is from 1969. They were gone by 1970. You don’t find them in white. They are usually yellow. You ever see something with that beautiful of an etching on it?” Couldn’t agree more, JIm.
One odd thing about these sorts of show for me is, I walk around feeling incredibly youthful. I’m 34 years young, right? I was the youngest person there by 20 years. That can mess with you. You watch yer language, and you are careful to move slow in and out of the booths. Lots and lots of middle-aged guys with the most obscure tastes and short tempers, digging around in this and that, and, not afraid to get a little cold or mean when a “valued piece” in question has “some scrap book residue on the back.” Wow. Tough customers.
Overheard, in regards to a “score” found “a couple weeks back”: “When you hear hoofbeats; think horses, not zebras. But occasionally, it’s a zebra.” Brilliant.
I’ll be back next year. You bet.
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