They say every cloud has a silver lining, and maybe this one did when it parked itself over my head back in August. The annual Das Awkscht Fest was coming up, a vintage toy and vintage car festival in Pennsylvania (see “Twists and Turns,” my Sept. 17, 2014 post, for more on this event), and I was getting jazzed as the time approached to jump in the car and head up there.
Except that I caught a cold the week before. Or maybe it’s the flu, we thought, as I coughed and wheezed and generally felt awful. After four or five days of this, I went to the doctor, who told me to go get a chest x-ray. “A chest x-ray? For what?” She told me they thought I might have pneumonia. My measured, thoughtful response to this was, “Pneumonia?! Not a chance I don’t get things like pneumonia I’m Joe Runner and healthy and strong as an ox and how could you possibly think I would ever get something like pneumonia?”
Off I went for the x-ray. Pneumonia. Even as my brain kicked into denial mode, my body begged to differ and I actually started feeling worse. I dragged myself back to the doctor’s office and told her that I had to get better in two days as I had an 8-hour drive to Pennsylvania ahead of me. When she asked if my trip could be delayed or postponed, I said no, that I was headed to the World Series of vintage toys and there was no way I was going to let some chest infection derail my pilgrimage to Mecca.
By the time I arrived home from the doctor’s, I could barely stand up.
Antibiotics, lots of coughing, lots of sleep, a little bit of work, some TLC from my wonderful wife, more coughing, and Macungie came and went (as did our plans to also attend a family reunion in New Jersey later in the weekend). I hadn’t missed the event in years, as it’s a great opportunity to visit with good friends and hunt for high-quality antique toys, and I stewed over it as I imagined the incredible deals that now would be had by other collectors. Attending an event and failing to score great finds is one thing, and that sometimes happens. But to not even make it to the starting line, well, that was enough for me to hold my own little pity party.
As August went on, I slowly regained my strength and recovered from the pneumonia. Then, just before Labor Day, I stumbled across a true rarity on Ebay: a mid-1950s gift set of Goodee cars and trucks, something I’d never seen for sale before. Goodee-Toys (yes, with a hyphen) were made for just a few years during the 1950s, and they were simple, one-piece die cast toys that nonetheless have bags of charm. The set on Ebay was complete with its original box and foldable service station with accessories.
Goodees turn up far less regularly than Tootsietoys, Hubleys, and Midgetoys, and usually in battered condition. All but one of the models in this set were in perfect original condition. Along with the ultra-cool box art, the whole thing just screamed 1950s, and I knew I’d be bidding on this one.
As the auction wound down, the bidding stayed low at around $30. Then, an hour or so before the end, the bidding went up to around $60. I put in a bid of $72, prepared to bid again when the price inevitably went up. $72…$72…$72…5 minutes to go…$72…1 minute to go…here it comes, I thought…$72…the clock ran out… “the auction has closed and you’re the winning bidder at $72.” I refreshed the browser, unable to believe I could have gotten this set for just $72. But there it was, I was the winning bidder at $72, on an uber-rare toy that should have gone for $200 or more.
When it arrived in the post, I carefully checked every inch of the models and the box. Beautiful original condition and everything present and accounted for. I cleared a place of honor in one of our display cabinets, and then took the whole thing back out to photograph it for inclusion in a feature article on Goodee-Toys that I was writing for The Diecast Magazine. And yes, I ran the models along the desk as I crouched down and eyeballed them to see what they looked like as they drove by. The light blue Cadillac looked particularly righteous.
An incredible score, when I least expected it, and it took some of the sting out of missing that party in Pennsylvania. Silver linings.
Douglas R. Kelly is the proud owner of several Frank Robinson baseball cards, but not a single Rip Repulski. Which is kind of sad.