Delaware Valley Historical Radio Club Meet
Kutztown, Pennsylvania -- May 11-12, 2007
Reported BY JOHN HAGMAN
Interstate 84 was completed in 1978 as a vital east-west route allowing trucks and other traffic to avoid many major cities. I often find myself taking this less traveled route through Scranton, Pennsylvania, from Vermont, although it adds half an hour at least to my twice yearly trips to the Kutztown radio meets. The good, clean, cheap accommodations all seem to be along this route.
I have often stopped at beautiful and commodious Promised Land State Park (Exit 26), and I almost wished I had this past trip as a stupendous downpour began as I approached that exit. But I pushed on to Wilkes Barre, as I had a room reserved at the Red Roof there, and the park had proven a bit far from my destination.
And that was, of course, the "Beast of the East," the "Greatest Show on Earth," -- the Delaware Valley Historic Radio Club's Kutztown meet held May 11 and 12 this year. I arrived about 9 a.m. and already one quarter of the main pavilion was set up. I let the dogs out for a few minutes and then hit the aisles.
As is so often my luck, I rarely make many early finds. I think the ideal radio or phono for me is something that frightens other less intrepid collectors. About 10 a.m., I decided to set up my own booth and wheeled the van into position to unload a Victor cabinet phono and an extra Philco 37-116, along with the rest of my goodies. I don't really fill the van on my spring trips, as my pool business leaves me too tired and pressed for time. But, I brought enough to pay for the trip and also delivered a Zenith console I had already sold as well.
Prospective buyers look over the offerings that include plastic-cased radios, a tombstone, and military sets.
Soon after unloading I noticed a hard-to-find General Motors cathedral on the table across from me. Complete, but needing refinishing and veneer work on part of the face, at only $50, how could I resist? A little later I had a long visit from Texas Lewee and his Buddy Bruce of eBay fame. Also I soon saw my favorite neighbor Bruce Mager from Waves of NYC, Paul P. and many other on-line buddies and folks from the DVHRC.
I didn't find too much to buy but sold a good deal of my wares Friday. "Dealer setup" is not a bad buying time too, but there's much more to it than being early. One must also be at the right place at the right time.
Real bargains rarely make it to the table or even out of the truck before someone has made the deal. Some novice dealers were visibly taken aback when a flock of overly eager collectors would swoop down on their arriving truck like sea gulls at a Burger King parking lot, squawking, elbowing, and shouting, "How much for this?"
But, despite a sharp eye and a lot of circling the aisles, it's easy to miss treasures. You can't be everywhere at once. I admire folks like Bruce who single handedly sells from his table and buys for his store. I spend lots of time away from my table both shopping and walking the dogs, with the "Back in a Few Minutes" sign left up.
This meet had a lot more fixer-uppers than usual and huge amounts of nice original or restored stuff. And by midafternoon, I guess three-fourths of the main and second pavilion overflow space was full. I bought a cute and quite unusual Detrola tombstone in good condition for a hundred bucks just after lunch.
Around then I noticed WFMZ (a Philly area TV station) had set up a live remote truck nearby. Reporter Melissa Batulis and her cameraman walked around doing interviews and took a few minutes of footage of my Victor phono in action. The song was Ethel Merman from Annie Get Your Gun singing about making moonshine. Later, when I saw the completed footage on WFMZ's website, I noticed that they had carefully cut out the "moonshine" references. I suppose in parts of rural Pennsylvania they might still have a moonshine problem.
I was pretty beat by 5 p.m. and covered the tables until morning. I went out for a sub -- Oops, down there it's a grinder -- and some other supplies. I came back and went for a long walk behind the pavilion, and my new dog Gennie -- formally known as "General Red Dog" -- particularly enjoyed the huge field there. He is half Irish Setter and half Elkhound and a youngster at age three. He and Winnie ran wild for a half hour or so while I noticed that a lot more tenters had set up in the trees this year. It's amazing how this meet keeps growing as some others shrink.
I awoke at 6:15 a.m. to the alarm followed by the usual "please move your car you're blocking a dealer's unloading area" announcement on the PA system. The place was already busy but a quick scan of the aisles turned up nothing new to buy so I opened up about 7 a.m. I did notice a Philco 38-690 20-tube console in fair condition that had been bought dirt cheap off the truck on Friday and that was now on the floor with a $775 price tag. That's still almost cheap, but noting the water damage, I opted to wait it out.
Top Shelf: Six radios (brand name unknown) housed in plastic cases, each a different color: blue, dark red, green, white, black, and pink; an RCA tube advertising figure. On the table, left to right: a Philco 49-501 "Boomerang," an Emerson U-5A in a Bakelite cabinet, and two other unidentified sets.
About 8 a.m. I took a bunch of photos later organized into an on-line slide-show. I sold my Victor about 9 a.m., and by this point, the buyer traffic had slowed. The Philco 690 was down to $475 and I decided to offer $400, which was quickly accepted. It will take a lot of work but since I had assigned years and over $1,000 in my plan to acquire a Philco Stratosphere, I feel lucky to have made the deal.
I had to head north as I had a choral performance to sing in that night back in Vermont, so by 10:30 a.m., I was packed up and headed home. I missed the auction this year but plan a more leisurely exit this fall.
The fall dates are Sept 21 and 22, 2007, and www.renningers.com is where you'll need to go to make your reservations. Remember that it's only four months away, and the main pavilion sells out a month in advance, so by late summer get your tickets folks!
At only $20 a table, including free camping, and $5 for power if you'd like it, this meet is a steal. I could have driven as far and paid twice as much for the same Philco 38-690 from eBay. Finally too, I have a radio for which I don't mind selling something else to make room!
Thanks to the DVHRC for another show to remember. Keep on going, keep on growing!
DVHRC publishes "The Oscillator" monthly and holds monthly meetings with swap meets, and quarterly tailgate swaps. Dues are $15. DVHRC, PO Box 5053, New Britain, PA 18901. www.dvhrc.org.
(John Hagman, 1781 Mechanicsville Rd., Hinesburg, VT 05461)
John Hagman is a Vermont "archeologist" with a talent (or weakness) for barn-and-basement-dwelling radio orphans. His speciality is high-end, wooden, AC sets, 1930-1940.