The Red Hat
by Jason Woody, 05-13-2021
I cannot recall the first time I met Walt or his lovely wife, Eleanor, but I can sure remember the feeling of meeting someone special at the time. Walt was a man who attended our RS Prussia auctions and wore a bright red Rutgers University ball cap. This cap really became a signature piece of apparel that Walt almost always wore. He and my father, John, hit it off very well and they joked with each other on countless occasions. There was a time when Walt and Eleanor drove from New Jersey to St Louis and back during an ice storm just to attend an auction event – it was especially memorable. My father was genuinely concerned and called their home to make sure they arrived without problems. I fondly recollect Walt calling back to explain that the call my father made had meant a lot to him.
During one memorable RS Prussia Convention auction, a “nameless” accomplice had taken Walt’s prized red Rutgers ball cap and handed it to my father. Being the jokester he was, my father placed Walt’s hat up for auction and said the proceeds would all go to the club. Poor Walt had to sit there and buy back his hat while the entire crowd had a healthy chuckle, raising the bids! There is much more to this story and many others could fill in the gaps and continue the saga, but it still comes back to a man who enjoyed having fun and greatly enjoyed his hobby. The back story on the Red Hat had to be told since the image will be used for the RS Prussia Convention auction being held July 24th. This auction spotlights great RSP items where 150 of the 275 lots come from the Walt Holz collection.
by Jason Woody, 03-24-2021
If my father were still alive, this particular blog would be an endless description of the many decades of auctions we have conducted. That being said, I will try to relate some of the "special" times I remember, many of which involved my father, John Woody.
Woody Auction has done many auctions of every type over the years, which included outdoor experiences. The auction held on the northern border of Oklahoma – 15 miles from any town and during the middle of winter down a long dirt road – was a great experience. There were over 200 bidders in Quonset huts with burn barrels going to keep everyone warm (except the auctioneers who were standing on the trailers and selling all sorts of antiques and paper goods) during the snowstorm. Some of the paper goods included bundles of magazines that the owner wanted to use in the burn barrels, but we advised against it. Shortly after we began selling them, they began selling for $300-900 for each bundle. Needless to say, the owner was incredibly happy not throwing his "trash" magazines to provide heat.
Cut Glass and Woody Auction have been associated together for decades and are very dear to my heart. I have literally grown up with many of the collectors and love the family closeness that has developed over the years. There are many great names that have come through the auctions including Harry Kraut and Tom Jacks. These auctions are still remembered years later, and the people who attended these auctions I still clearly recollect. Who remembers the "turntable" that was used for years? It was set up at the Tom Jacks auction, and when the very first lot of stemware came turning around, the stem on the outside arc decided to "jump" from the turn table! Unbelievably, it landed safely on the carpet! Nothing like starting an auction like this to get everyone's blood flowing! Of course, this set of stemware ended up selling for over $1,000.
Mrs. Haines' auction, which was held prior to me being involved in the auctions, is one that I have heard about directly from my father for countless years. Our office had photos of this auction (held in the early 1970's), which featured my grandfather and father together, a wall covered in arrowheads that Mrs. Haines had personally found, and countless guns she had traded for over the years. These pictures would make any auctioneer envious when looking at the quality and precision of display. The story I especially remember my father relating was Mrs. Haines' concern that two auction rings going at the same time was not a good way to sell her items. However, when my father rented a golf cart for Mrs. Haines to go back and forth between the two rings, her reply was: "Mr. Woody, you're smarter than you look!"
Sitting down and writing out these stories do not give them the full perspective they deserve, but we have an upcoming auction in July of 2021 that will need some background history to really appreciate the context of how our advertising will be used. The "Red Hat" story is going to be the next blog, and I hope to do it justice, especially for our late friend Walt.
Everyone is a character
by Jason Woody, 03-06-2021
Everyone has a distinct personality. However, just like in any book, some characters stand out and enter into a person's memories for as long as you are breathing. That is the subject of this blog: a remembrance of characters who, for good or bad, made their mark in my life.
Audrey was the quintessential southern woman who was the most polite and authentic lady I ever remember meeting. She would dress in vibrant and flowing colorful dresses, with jewelry that would make any Hollywood star jealous with envy. From the time I knew Audrey, she would always sit on the front row and had an assigned bidder number of 8 if we knew she was coming. If she showed up unexpectedly after we had given out the #8 bidder card, we would actually work with whoever got it to make sure Audrey would have her number. I never did discover why she wanted this specific number, but when you meet a woman like her, you make sure her request (no matter how minor) is fulfilled. Audrey had an overweight Dachshund named Joe, that she would feed steak to (especially when Joe would “play the piano”). Her husband Haskell would forever be by her side at every auction, and he made sure to tip me when I would carry their boxes to their Cadillac. Audrey and Haskell have been gone for nearly 20 years, but they are definitely not forgotten.
Rosebud (not his real name), is a story I heard for years from my father, John Woody. Rosebud was a farmer who dressed in overalls and wore his work boots (without socks - more on this later) to the auctions. At the end of each sale, he would pull out a tremendous wad of cash to pay for the large bill he would rack up. Rosebud got his name the day he was on the front row of the auction and apparently had a foot problem. He took off his boots to reveal the bottom of his bare feet which were nearly coal black from the lack of quality hygiene. By the way, Rosebud happened to be sitting next to Audrey and Haskell the day this happened. My parents actually held Rosebud's auction many years later and found some of their very first auction flyers near the middle of Rosebud's bathtub.
Unknown name. This story I am one of the few to have actually witnessed and I swear it is 100% true. We had an all-pottery auction, and I don’t specifically remember the location, but a potential bidder had shown up to preview the collection a little early. He seemed normal and asked specific questions about the pottery and what methods we used to verify the pottery had not been repaired. We gave our reply and he proceeded to tell us that his method is more accurate. When he told us his method, we nervously chuckled thinking it was a strange joke. But, as God is my witness, this man went over to the display and proceeded to LICK all pieces of pottery he had an interest in.
Scott was a tall, lanky Texan who always seemed to have a smile. For a 10-15 year period, Scott showed up to nearly every RS Prussia or antique auction we conducted, and more importantly, he was the underbidder on countless items. His purchase quantities were multiple tables full at every auction. He was every Auctioneer’s dream bidder, and he chose to come to Woody Auction without fail. Scott was actually one of the younger bidders to attend auctions and was a welcome sight. Unfortunately, Scott’s death was unexpected, and we felt his absence for a long time.
Doc R was another front row bidder. He had been in a wheelchair long before I knew him. But mostly, I remember Doc taking the time to instruct me when I began doing the listings on my own. The first few years when I took over this important task, he was the one person who never complained if I described something wrong - he would just point out how to identify the reason it was wrong. Telling the difference between New England, Webb, and Wheeling Peach Blow, pre-Internet was one such lesson. Another reason Doc stands out in my memory was his very direct bidding style. Very rarely did I see Doc get outbid on an item. If he wanted a particular antique, he was there on the front row with his card firmly held, acknowledging to the auctioneer (and everyone else) that he had the high bid. There is a reason why everyone knew him when we conducted Doc’s auction. He and his lovely wife collected the finest quality antiques and picked only the best at each auction they attended. The four auctions we conducted for Doc are to date the finest we have ever done.
How Time Flies!
by Jason Woody, 2-10-2021
Was it really forty years ago? Forty? How does time fly like that? I have been personally involved with antique auctions of every type for forty years. By the time I came along, Woody Auction had created a nationwide following and a spotless reputation of honesty. I know, because I got to tag along from beginning to end when I was eight years old.
Granted, just like any job, I started on the bottom rung and worked carrying pieces out to the buyers. I fondly remember the ones who gave me candy or a heartfelt smile when I would deliver their antique.
During this period, all of our auctions were at rented facilities like a fairground, 4H hall or similar venue. We trucked our display units, podium, and other supplies, plus all the antiques all over the state of Kansas and other states, too. There would typically be a church group of some sort who would be selling delicious homemade concessions to feed the hungry bidders at each of these auctions.
What I distinctly remember are the homemade pies that would be available at these auctions. One time in particular, I recall my mother telling the concession workers (with me by her side) to just make a tab and she would settle after the auction. Unfortunately for my mother, she did not specify to me (or the concession workers) any particular limit of items I would be allowed to place on the “tab”.
By the end of the auction, I had devoured over 9 pieces of homemade pie and was quickly taught the lesson that anything beyond normal consumption quantities would be taken directly from my paycheck. I may have also gotten the nickname “turtle” around this same time, as I was probably in a corner eating pie when I should have been working.
Probably my most enjoyable times during auctions happened when I would be the ring man catching the bids for my father. Back in the days prior to computers, Internet, and COVID, the rooms would be packed with 200+ bodies, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. Calling out a bid just as the gavel was falling, and then “arguing” for my bidder's sake against my father - who had a different bidder he nearly sold it to - could make for some quality comic relief!
It seems strange to look back on forty years and remember many of the days just like they were yesterday. There are many characters we have come across at auctions over the years, and I believe my next blog may touch on a few of the memorable personalities I have been blessed to have known these many years.
by Jason Woody, 1-7-21
That was my response to answer my secretary’s request to complete a weekly “blog” for Woody Auction. I am not a gifted wordsmith, but I can see the benefit to having various aspects of auctions relayed - whether business or simple family experiences - so our auction friends can gain some insight into our lives.
I suspect there will be some bland generic writings and possibly some humorous (at our expense) memories that could eventually be shared. I have intentionally written this first entry short so as to not lose potential readers too quickly, so today I will blog about my current surroundings.
I am riding in the passenger seat of our cargo van in Northern Kansas/ Southern Nebraska while my nineteen year old son is driving us to our next consignment for an auction, in order to pack, load, and transport everything for an event that will be conducted months from now. Did I mention that my son is 19 and it is a little difficult to concentrate on writing this blog when I am typically the one behind the wheel?
That being said, I could not wish to be anywhere else than with my family, our employees, or with the thousands of friends we have made during three generations of auctions. Who knows, maybe this 19 year old son next to me (scaring me to death) will eventually think about making it four generations. Either way, the next thirty years I suspect will be just as unique and memorable as the past thirty I have worked auctions.
As a matter of fact, that will be next week's blog: “A few memories of auctions and growing up in the Woody Auction family.”