Published: June 25, 2019
Review by R. Scudder Smith, Photos by Sherri Baggett
Conventioneers Turn On The Good Time And Enjoy Banks, House Visits, Room Hopping, Auction, Dining And Drinking, Talks And More Banks
OLATHE, KANSAS – How about a bit of history that you might know, but there is a chance that it might be new to you. The Still Bank Collectors Club of America was founded in 1966 and had no officers until 1968 when co-founder William Werbell was named president for two years. Conventions also got off to a start that same year with a gathering in Heightstown, New Jersey.
Conventions were well-accepted and became an annual event, but during the first ten years, five of them were anchored in Pennsylvania. A couple ventured out into New England, and one got to Ohio. In the last ten years, Pennsylvania only scored twice, with Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Louisiana all taking a turn.
Kansas City seemed like a favorable choice this year, and Mother Nature really did not get in the way. People started to arrive as early as Monday, June 3, and all had departed by Sunday, June 9. And if the bank members got bored with still banks, then with a little wandering afar, there was the well-known Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, The Arabia Steamboat Museum, Kansas Speedway, Falcon Valley Golf Course, Country Club Plaza, Legler Barn Museum, Negro League Baseball Museum, Kansas City Royals (if in town), Science City at Union Station and National World War I Museum. And on top of all that, there was a free, non-stop trolley that runs around town flaunting some of the places mentioned as well as good digs to dine.
If you look over the daily convention schedule of activities, you will always find “room hopping,” and think what you might, but it is lots of fun and can often be rewarding. The hotel tried to gather those who were participating in bank selling on floors five and six, where the doors are open and lookers are welcomed. Generally by the open door is a shopping bag with “Banks For Sale Here” written on it.
Some of the vendors bring a table for setup, while others are content with the tables, shelving and the bed to display. It is an opportunity for collectors to get rid of dupes and for others to add to or freshen up a collection.
Don and Betty Jo Heim took two days to travel from Pennsylvania and were among the early birds setting up shop and welcoming buyers. Just the opposite is Jim Yeager, who announces when his room will be open, and not before. It is generally a couple of days into the convention, and a line starts to form several hours before he opens his door. He provides some cheese and wine for those who come early, and it has been known that an offer of a few bucks can sometimes move you closer to the door.
While room hopping appears on every daily schedule, it does get pushed aside by a board meeting, a seminar on cleaning and care for cast iron banks, a panel on collecting, a bank exhibition in the hospitality room, auction set-up with a chance to buy at the auction, visiting collections, banquets and free cocktail hours.
Visiting the homes of bank collectors is always popular, and it took three buses, at staggered times, to drop in on Ken and Mary Russell, Abilene, a two-hour drive from the hotel, followed by a visit to the home of Doug Riat and Lori Farmer of Lawrence, on the long way back to the hotel.
Other collectors who opened their doors included Gary Stubbs, Dave and Carol Jensen, Mark and Vicki Herman and Jim and Judy Yeager. All lived close enough to the hotel that cars were the mode of travel.
Following a cash bar on Friday evening, a buffet was served with a new twist. Doug Riat, the host for the evening and an auctioneer by profession, announced that the order of tables in line for food would be determined by bidding. It started at $50 and ended at $150 for the first table, with eight hungry diners heading for the kitchen. As the table bidding continued, the tables got cheaper, but even so, a sum of $775 was added to the club’s coffers.
On Saturday evening, a banquet dinner was served, combined with a short business meeting and the announcement by Ray Haradin that next year’s convention will be in his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He promised a good time, and the early June date will soon be announced.
This year, the Souvenir Building Collectors Society joined the SBCCA Convention because the hotel could not take them alone. Numbering about fifteen, each paid membership in SBCCA and joined the members in all programs and trips.
Judging from the talk heard over glasses of wine, members all agreed that this convention was a success. Doug Riat mentioned that Ken Russell worked day and night to make things tick, and they did. “Jim Yeager and I were on the convention committee, but when we turned to do something, Ken had already done it,” Doug said.
Smooth it did run, and enjoyable it was.
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