Hey Guys and Gals,
Just in case you are one of my blog readers who have not purchased a signed, numbered and personalized copy of my new book, I thought I would do a series of blogs that tell you about a few of the hundreds of stories that I've written in Volume I of what will be my three volume series. These books deal with my nearly 60 years of buying selling and collecting these fascinating relics. After you've read the story, please consider purchasing my book. You can order on our convenient on-line shopping cart.
How Much is the Rent?...
This, as they say, is one for the books. So, that is why it ended up here. As I’ve said before, I attended thousands of gun and militaria shows over the years. Many good items show up at these shows for sale and occasionally people walk in the door with, what is referred to as, sleepers.
It was 4 PM on a Saturday afternoon at a show in Stratford, CT back in the early 1980s. My pal Norman Joyce was helping out at my tables when a fellow stopped by and started ogling some of the uniforms I had on the back wall. He asked the price of one dress uniform and I told him it was $495. He said “You gotta be kidding!” I just chuckled. He asked about a battle flag I had on display and I told him that was $250 (remember, this is the 80s) and he said, “Cut it out!” Then he picked up one of my helmets, looked at the price and said, “Geez!” I laughed and asked him what the hell he was doing at the show. He told me his buddy wanted to pick up some ammunition and he had just come along for the ride.
I then asked him why he was looking at all the militaria items and sneering at the price. He related to me that he was a landlord and had a tenant who had rooms full of this crap in his apartment. He went on to tell me the asshole had disappeared a few years back and skipped without paying two months’ rent. I asked him where all the stuff was and he told me that he had packed it all up and had thrown it in the basement where is was “in the way!”
I asked him where he lived and when he told me Bridgeport, I told him we’d be over to his place at 5:30 PM. He looked at me like I had two heads and said “Who the hell wants this stuff?” We showed up at the appointed time and he greeted us with two beers saying he knew we were wasting our time so the least he could do was give us a beer. He led us down to a poorly lit cellar and there, in one corner, were several crates. He literally handed me a flashlight and opened the first crate. It was packed to the top with stacks of German uniforms.
In the background, I sensed a groan from “Stormin’ Norman” who I had instructed to remain mute and show no emotion. We then went over to a second crate and that was chockablock full of German WWI and WWII helmets. The third crate had dozens of flags, daggers, and field gear. The apartment owner said “See, a load of crap.” Mind you, this was a collector and some of the items were put together and not original but the sheer amount of items was amazing. There were still more boxes to open but I stopped and looked the landlord in the eyes and said “How much is the rent?” He hesitated then told me the jerk left owing him two months’ rent and that was $400. I said fine, I’ll pay the rent. He looked at me and quickly said, “Are you talking cash?” I reached in my pocket and counted out $400 which he snapped up so fast I thought he was going to take my hand with it. I glanced over his shoulder and Norman had turned about nine shades of red because he was so excited!
Well the tone changed very quickly because the landlord said he had somewhere to go but could he help us load up the stuff. I was driving a 1978 Ford Econoline van and we proceeded to essentially fill the back of the cargo space. I was sure the landlord was afraid I was going to change my mind and he wasn’t taking any chances. We beat feet out there laughing like kids on Christmas morning. Norman climbed in the back and started opening boxes and throwing stuff in the air. We spend the next six hours in Norman’s kitchen and living room going over all these treasures and trying to tally up the value. We had a blast. I told Norman to pick out some items for himself and allowed him to pay me any meager amount he wanted to pay. I told him he could spend two month rent (LOL) and so, he picked out about $1500 worth of stuff for $400 but his didn’t even scratch the surface. We were the talk of the show on Sunday with several dealers and customers making a trip out to my van to view the treasures and perhaps buy a few items for themselves.
Part of the loot!