The Nor-Cal Auburn Show!

By Mike "Polecat" Doyle

The Annual Nor-Cal Insulator Club show and sale at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, California was highlighted by azure blue skies, a light, summer breeze and plenty of show-goers to keep the weekend interesting.

Dealers from a couple of different insulator and bottle clubs in California and Nevada started rolling up to the show hall around Noon on Friday, August 4th. New lighting, plenty of electric outlets, and great air conditioning have kept this hall at the top of Nor-Cal's list for years. The volunteer set-up crew (Larry Shumaker, Judy & Greg Bickford, Scott Prall, Steve Bava, Glen Adkins and Bob Hendricks) did a bang-up job getting the 40 or so six-foot tables, table cloths, and bunches of folding chairs arranged just so. The volunteer kitchen staff (let's hear it for Alice Shumaker, Arlene Heitkotter and Janet Bond) collected the pot-luck donations from everyone and got the galley organized to feed a bunch of hungry thread-heads. Three heart-stopping displays were setup on the stage at the end of the hall while dealer donations for the raffle were collected and arranged in small clusters on the hospitality table tended by Scott Prall. The doors opened for Early Lookers on Friday afternoon at about 3PM and the show was underway.

NorCal club president Larry Shumaker brought a bushel of his favorite HG and Hemi signals to display. His spectacular assortment of CD 162 color ranged from Jade Milk and Plum through Peacock, Turquoise and Sapphire, to bright Yellow-Orange and nearly Red. Dave Elliott brought a killer back-lit oak case to display a sparkling batch of his incredible CD 121 tolls in every streak and swirl color, embossing and junk-in-the-glass variation imaginable. Pat Patocka dusted off a box of EC&Ms from his Penryn root cellar and blew us all away with a staggering assortment of peach, purple, peacock, amber, green, clear, cobalt, olive and yellow eye candy. Even the backward embossed EC&M was there. Awesome displays guys!

The raffle items included a CD 164 milk Maydwell, CD 135 Chicago, peacock Telephone Pioneers bell, like-new set of vintage Millholand books (L@@K), CD 190/191 Hemi blue 50, CD 162 Hemi in forest Green with Amber streaks, a Peacock flower frog and a Sage McLaughlin Arrowhead bottle complete with cap and carboy crate. Raffle ticket sales were pretty brisk but the show-goers would have to wait until Saturday afternoon at 1430 (that's 2:30 PM for you sand crabs) to see who won all of the goodies.

The cast of characters included (in no particular order) Larry Reed from Woodland who bought a nice CD 130 Cal Electric in Aqua. Among Larry's interests are porcelain signs and early western telegraph insulators. Mike Doyle from Lemoore brought an assortment of Aqua glass, a couple of threadless and a few crossarms complete with pins and insulators. Steve Viola from Mountain View had his sale stock very nicely displayed in a beautiful, flip-top, back-lit oak case. Steve, who collects California and EC&M, was happy to sell a Sage Cal' helmet and I think he had the only San Francisco wood cable-top for sale at the show. Janet Bond and Steve Bava from Antioch had a great assortment of insulators and go-withs for sale. When I asked Steve how the show was going, he said, "Great, I sold all of my heavy power stuff!" It was heartening to see Janet feeling well and going like gang-busters all weekend. She was either rustlin' grub for the starvin' dealers, tellin' tall tales from behind her sales table or meeting and talking to people around the show floor. Jim Anderson from New Castle should have won the 'widest assortment of collectibles' award for the items on his table. He had a huge OB porcelain multipart, a (real) boat anchor, an 1896 photo album and I can't remember what all else. Cecil Ellis from Coulterville brought an intriguing collection of marbles, insulators and general antiques. Glenn Adkins from Vacaville collects California insulators. He was selling a big porcelain Christmas tree submarine cable insulator, a mint CD 126 blobtop in yellow-green and a nice CD 106.1 peaktop Duquesne in cornflower. Dave Cross from Oakdale collects porcelain signs, and assorted early western glass and telegraph related items. Dave sold a beautiful Wade to Glenn Adkins, sold me a three-nail wood block rams horn, sold Bob Jackson a jewel CD 120 CEW with all of the hardware and he still had a Cal Electric (did Larry Reed buy that?), a Seiler's, and a Confederate egg in his oak mission style, pie-safe display case. I think it's safe to say that Dave had a pretty good weekend. Did I forget to mention the part about a cobalt flared skirt EC&M? Bob Jackson from Woodand, who has been collecting off and on since before 1976, says he's back in it now. He brought a nice assortment of sale stock to support his Seiler's-Cal Electric-CEW habit. Welcome back Bob! A couple of 49ers Historic Bottle Club members named John Hiscox, from Nevada City and Rick Nelson, from Sacramento brought a great assortment of whiskeys, inks, sodas, beers, bitters, advertising collectibles, and toys. Next there were Judy and Greg Bickford, another couple who pioneered insulator collecting in the west, got out for a while and have recently experienced a rekindled interest in our great hobby. Greg collected with John Tibbits (of Little Glass Shack fame) in 1960 and hosted the first back yard swap meets in the west in 1968,'69 and '70. Judy tends shop at the Riverfront Antique Center in Napa. She collects ornaments, pottery and fruit jars. Greg says, "If you find yourself on Main Street in Woodland, stop in to Bee's Collectibles and see my lighted insulator sale display." Thanks Greg, I may just do that! I tell y'all, with the broad assortment of stuff we had at this show, there had to have been something for everyone. By the time I finished taking notes about our visiting 49ers bottle guys, I heard Arlene Heitkotter ringing the triangle for chow.

It took me about 5 seconds to forget all about the show report and make a bee-line for the galley. The crew at Chez Auburn had rustled up a mouth watering assortment of three different home made lasagnas, chicken enchiladas, bean salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, vegetable salad, chicken salad, beanie-weenies, garlic French bread, muffins, apple pie, 2 kinds of lemon cake with raspberry frosting, brownies, soda, coffee ... may I stop now :c) All free with your dealer's table contract! I had to go out and lay in the grass for an hour after that meal. A big Thank You to everyone who contributed so generously to the pot-luck dinner. As it turned out, I did not finish visiting all of the dealers before they began spreading their newspapers and sheets and rolling up their tables for the night.

Everyone said their good-bye's and headed for their evening accommodations. The night security crew was staffed by 49er bottle club president Tony Charleton, and NorCal members Scott Prall and me. Thanks guys! It's a big help not to have to pay for security. On her way out the door, Arlene Heitkotter made sure that we knew how to plug in the morning coffee and she told us where the sodas and pie were if we wanted a midnight snack. The show hosts Pat and Shirley Patocka were the last folks out the door Friday night. They locked the security crew in and announced that they'd be back between 7:30 and 8:00 to get things going on Saturday morning.

After a quiet night and a fresh donut and coffee breakfast (thanks Larry!) I finished visiting with the dealers that I hadn't spoken with on Friday. Shirley and Pat Patocka from Penryn had at least four tables of collectibles between them. Pat, who collects (everything?) a wide range of early western insulators had a great assortment of color and a variety of different CDs on one sales table. On the other, he had an old telephone, porcelain signs and laminated color posters that were printed in the old style advertisement script by Bob Alexander. Shirley had a fetching assortment of colorful, sparkling jewelry, pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, open salts, flower frogs, silver baubles and glass items. I believe that every insulator widow who walked into the show spent at least 10 minutes perusing Shirley's wonderful assortment of goodies. Ron and Pat Souza from Roseville collect early western telegraph items. Pat says, "I don't really collect these things, this show is just something I like to do with Ron once a year. I like the opportunity to talk to my friends here." They stayed long enough to visit with most of the dealers, display a marvelous assortment of Sierra glass blocks, and share some detailed research information with the few starving EC&M diggers still eking out a living in the high country. Thanks for sharing Ron! Art and Dale Huber from Colfax (The banditos telegrafos) brought a stunning assortment of CD 214 Telegrafos to sell. They offered every possible shade of amber from the deepest whiskey to the most lush yellow and values ranged from $75 to $550 for the mint, long toothed, golden yellow screamer. (I think I saw Pat Patocka buy up all of their unsold stock at the end of the show...) Ron Norton (of Rainbow Riders Trading Post fame) was up from southern California with a great assortment of color for sale. He had two CD 162 cobalts, an inky cobalt, a peacock and a CD 145 HG in yellow. That one went for around $875 I think. Those of you who made the Cayucos show may have seen it there. Scott Prall from Citrus Heights hunts for, digs for, and still finds (!) EC&Ms. He was offering two nice CD 123s in cobalt and apple green. Speaking of apples, what's for lunch?

It just so happened that the cracker-jack kitchen crew prepared Saturday's lunch with nachos, the scrumptious pot-luck leftovers, and some killer jumbo-dawgz made to order with chili, cheese and onions. For those of you who were fortunate enough to try the chili burger or chili cheese fries at the Western Regional in Enumclaw, Washington, I'm here to tell you, these Auburn Gold Dawgz were every bit as good!

My show report wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention noteable appearances by some other noteable California insulator collectors who dropped by but did not have a table at this show. We traded summer stories, hunting tips, long-time-no-sees, and of course insulators with Bill Rohde, Bart Magoffin, Paul Greaves, Ian Macky, Steve Marsh, Larry Monroe (who brought a really cool Paul Seiler's portable lineman's test telephone) and Renard Perucho. I'm sure that there were others who I do not remember seeing also. Larry tells me that we also signed up 5 new collector-members to the Nor-Cal club.

The last event of the day was the raffle. The lucky winners were Bob Jackson, Bob Hendricks (thanks Larry!), Allen Christensen, and Cecil Ellis. Congratulations guys!

At least a few folks to whom I spoke asked about Fred Padgett and expressed their wishes for his speedy recovery from an increasingly bothersome back ailment. Get well, and we'll see you at Tulare, Fred!

Well that about does it. Another big Thank You is in order for the closing clean-up crew. And finally, I hope to see you all at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, California for the big 49er Historic Bottle Association's 23rd Show and Sale. Some awesome stuff has 'walked into' that show in years past and this year promises to be just as exciting. C U there!


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