Brian Drent of Mile High Card Co. got an intriguing e-mail this past fall mentioning the seldom-seen 1968 Topps Plaks. The man claimed to have a significant quantity and further explained that the Plaks were found in a garage near Duryea, Pa., outside of Scranton. Drent thought, "Duryea, hmm." Topps had its factory in Duryea until a couple of years ago, and the man said he had found a quantity of odd little plastic "statues" in his mother’s garage just a few blocks from the former Topps plant in Duryea.
I used to have Bill Russell’s autograph. My dad got it for me at the Schaefer Beer Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows in Queens, but he got it on a cocktail napkin and I somehow let that slip away in the ensuing 44 years.
I wasn’t at the World’s Fair more than 15 minutes or so, since Sandy Koufax was pitching the second game of a doubleheader against my Mets next door at Shea Stadium and that seemed more compelling to me than a mere World’s Fair. The Russell autograph was free, as was the Schaefer Beer, which explains how I ended up with an autograph of one of the NBA’s all-time greats on a lowly bar napkin.
Our hobby has always been about travel. Its roots trace back to the 1960s when intrepid souls would jump in their cars and traverse hundreds and even thousands of miles for the privilege of encamping at a hotel room at a Holiday Inn to welcome eager collectors to turn over their treasures in exchange for cash.
That was our roots, altered only marginally as the hobby took off in the 1970s and 1980s when the traveling expanded almost exponentially, with dealers touring the country to offer their wares at ever-expanding “shows,” and eager collectors flocking to attend.