My 2 Cents
Jon Upton : The Back Bumper             I will soon be removing columns older than 2011. Read up while you can!


Saturday had come. The last glorious day of my 6-day vacation, away from the wife and kids and anything to do with timetables or deadlines. Six days where I could simply walk where I wanted, eat when I wanted, and browse what I wanted. It had been a fantastic trip. I was looking forward to being home, but still enjoying the temporary sovereignty that a vacation can bring.

Eric and I checked out of the hotel early to make a quick getaway easier... it would be one fewer thing to do later on. After settling our room account at the front desk, we started our day off right with a run to Tim Horton’s. We used a different set of streets to get there, as it would probably be our last chance to explore the downtown core of Rochester on foot, and we wanted to see as much as we could... that's how the subway adventure began last night. Our route took us past an unusual office tower. Its walls curved outward as they approached ground level, giving it the look of some strange obelisk. Eric, having researched the former Rochester subway already, had discovered that this building was apparently Xerox headquarters for a time before the company left town. Despite the vacancy of many buildings in the downtown Rochester area, they were all well-maintained and the streets were very tidy, with no garbage lying around, and pretty much no graffiti. It’s a city that’s down on its luck, but it’s a proud city that presents well.

On our way back to the hotel, for the upcoming club business meeting, I walked past a bus shelter and found a softcover novel sitting on the bench, torn in half, with a few of the pages hanging out. It was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. My best friend in childhood has turned into a disciple of Rand’s writing, and has long been recommending that I read one of her books. No pages were missing, so I took this as a sign that I should take the book with me, repair it, and read it. (The repaired novel now awaits me on my office bookshelf).

We arrived in the same ballroom as the auction from last night, and took seats just as the meeting was coming to order. The most interesting news was that ALPCA’s non-profit status had been re-confirmed by the IRS, which gave rise to a round of applause. This was no small feat, since the former treasurer of the club failed to file the necessary tax paperwork for an extended period of time—to say nothing about embezzling the club’s funds for personal use—and thus, the club’s continued non-profit status had been in serious jeopardy.

The Hall of Fame inductions were nice to watch—Of the three members who were inducted, the only one I know well is Chuck Sakryd. His lovely wife Cyndi had been making a push to have him nominated for the HoF, and deservedly so. I was pleased to sign my name on the support list. A humbled Chuck was deeply moved and described his early days, and how other collectors had helped him out. He lost his job over twenty years ago, and wondered if he could make a living just being a professional “picker” and dealing in the hobby he loves so much. He gave it a shot, and it worked out—he’s living his dream. “The tide comes in, and the tide goes out,” he mused. “I went upstairs to see Corb, and the tide went out.” The room roared. Of course, Corb Moister had been busy selling thousands of museum-quality plates all week— I spent a wad of cash there—and apparently, so did Chuck. Congrats to him, and thanks to Cyndi, really, for making it all possible.

Up next were the display awards. I was pleased to accept a first place award for my Ontario display, and Eric was also thrilled to take a first place award for his diplomat display. I was a little disappointed that Dave Steckley’s name wasn’t mentioned in the first place category. His Ontario truck run was a tough one to assemble. Dave did win a second place plaque, and they’re really nice award to take home as well. The three of us posed for a picture after the meeting and congratulated each other on a job well done.

With that, the meeting was adjourned, and the club opened the hall for the morning. Saturday is move-out day, especially for those who either have a long drive, or have limited time. Dave Grant, who lives a mile from me in Ottawa, had luckily been able to make the convention at the last minute... he engineered a way, as it were. He arrived Friday afternoon, but didn’t have a ton of time in the hall, so Saturday was basically his day to soak it all in. I did my best to show him the displays that I figured would catch his interest, and he did manage to find an armful of plates to bring home. Saturday brings us a new wave of half-price sales, so I’m hoping that the more he bought, the more he saved.

I brought my SLR camera so I could photograph my display properly. My phone’s camera doesn’t give the resolution to make enlarged prints. I had the perfect angle, but Rich Dragon’s fantastic ALPCA vanity display (which did take the Best of Show award) was slightly in the way. I couldn’t zoom out because I was using a fixed 50mm lens to maximize the capture of indoor light, so the only way to fit the display in the frame was to walk away from it. Rich tried to help me by moving part of his display over, but it was big and bulky, and I was still not going to get the shot I needed. Rich helped me walk my display boards 40 feet away to the south end of the hall, and then, I was able to get the high-resolution pictures I wanted.

With that, my only remaining task was to dismantle my display. It took some work. I needed more zip ties to keep my delicate older plates from vibrating during the ride home, and I put padding around the leather plate to keep it more or less immobile inside its security frame. I also had to unscrew some joining plates before I could unlatch the panels and begin folding them up. Andrew Turnbull stopped by to chat about plates and VW Beetles, and he held things steady during the tear-down. I’d managed to park my car in the loading area and the staff loaned me a big cart to wheel my five panels around. I managed to get my five folded panels on the cart, and rolled them down to the car. The pile of stacked panels was nearly three feet high, but I built them to fit neatly in the back of my station wagon, so there was never any doubt that I'd have enough space. Of course, there wasn’t much room left over, and I was reminded as to why I hadn’t brought any trade boxes.

And so ended my time in Rochester. I drove away through the southern suburbs and back toward the New York Thruway. I stopped for gas once, and stopped for a leg-stretch at a "text stop" but aside from that, my car kept rolling until I was just past the De Wolf Point exit on the northbound I-81. Dave Grant had warned me that the traffic was heavy here this weekend, and he was right-- the line was a quarter-mile long. I wondered if I would have been better off to cross at Ogdensburg, but it was too late to get off the highway to take a detour, as I'd already passed the last American exit. I waited patiently as the traffic inched along. By the time I had penetrated Canadian territory and was in sight of the customs booth, I was in a truck lane, with each truck taking five minutes. But there were some tourists on motorcycles who were grilled at the next booth over for much longer. Finally, the truck ahead of me pulled away. I was bored, tired, and just wanted to get home. I was unshaven, sweaty, I left the radio on, and I forgot to remove my sunglasses.

The twentysomething CBSA agent asked me the value of the plates in my display. I couldn’t tell him—some were worth chump change, whereas others were worth much more, and there were over a hundred in the display. “If you brought them over to bring them back, why didn’t you go to export control, or add up the value?” he asked.

I was too tired and irritated to feel threatened by this guy. “It’s never come up before,” I said. “I haven’t crossed in five years. But maybe the requirements have changed? I don’t know.” I had ample proof with me that I’d brought my display from Canada, and I even had the letter from my old friend Scott Mitchell, the ALPCA Secretary, on official letterhead, stating the facts about my display. But this guy was firing too many questions for me to interrupt his “zone”. I did hold up the first place award plaque I’d won, but he didn’t really care, and was busy writing notes.

He went fishing. “You said you’ve been in the US since Wednesday?” Nice try. I flatly and immediately reminded him that I entered on Monday. I’d never been pulled over for secondary inspection before, travelling in either direction, but he handed me the slip and directed me to the inspection area.

I pulled up in front of four unoccupied officers, shut off the engine, and put the keys on the dash without being asked. I put my phone in my pocket and was invited to sit on a bench during the inspection. There was an issue of People magazine there. I opted to flip idly through it rather than play on my phone, or send texts to people. There was no doubt that there were several surveillance cameras watching me closely, so I acted how I was feeling—bored and uninterested. The officers opened the car and unzipped a couple of bags. A sniffer dog was taking a look as well. They even popped the hood. They paid no attention to the contents of my display boards—they didn’t move them or even try to pry one of them open. I guess they were looking for drugs—I wished I could convey to them how they were wasting their time. In spite of my shady-looking appearance and argumentative responses that day, I took the “don’t do drugs” message to heart as a kid and, well… I’ve never done any.

After five minutes of sitting there, I was cleared to leave. I shut my hood, trunk and all the doors before heading up Highway 137 through Hill Island. The speed limit signs were metric again. I could finally allow my phone to roam without racking up charges. Tim Horton’s was identified neither as a “Café” nor a “Bake Shop”. I tried to enjoy the final 90 minutes of my freedom, but I was tired from my duet with the CBSA booth agent and it sort sucked the fun out of the drive. No matter—I’d been taking copious amounts of pictures and notes, specifically so I could document the trip, and always remember the fantastic time I had in upstate New York in the summer of ’14.

Some previous instalments of My 2 Cents  

Credit Where Credit Is Due (Jan 31/09) 
YOMPlates (Mar 29/09) 
...A Man Alone... (Apr 26/09) 
Stir-Crazy (May 10/09) 
Watson, Steam, Nash and Fun (May 31/09) 
Oro Express (June 14/09) 
Weary in Erie (June 29/09) 
Weary in Erie 2 (July 6/09) 
Weary in Erie 3 (July 15/09) 
Walking the Walk (Aug 19/09) 
Gettin' My Fillia in Orillia (Sep 20/09) 
Destination Super (Oct 29/09) 
Auction in the Country (Dec 31/09) 
Wintertime Update (Feb 20/10) 
Plates and Parenting in Acton (Apr 25/10) 
Ketchup (Aug 17/10) 
Mileage May Vary in Barrie (Oct 2/10) 
Grim Pickings (Nov 2/10) 
Oppression (Nov 27/10) 
Virtual Display (Dec 26/10) 

Variable Virtual Value (Feb 27/11) 
7 2 1 3 (Mar 6/11) 
Police Thyself (Apr 17/11) 
Twofer One (May 12/11) 
100 / 1000 (Jun 8 /11) 
Cruising and Shopping in Merrickville (Jul 11/11) 
Bert's Barn & Bug (Aug 1/11) 
Hot & Bothered in Bothwell (Aug 23/11) 
Summer's Last Gasp (Sep 16/11) 
Some Facts About Fakes (Oct 24/11) 
You Had To Be There (Nov 4/11) 
Load Runners (Dec 24/11) 
Load Runners - The Sequel (Jan 16/12) 
In Search of the Canadian Car (Feb 20/12)
Passing Time (Apr 1/12)
These Magic Moments (May 19/12)
Seller 57, Where Are You? (June 16/12)
Moseying in Merrickville (July 11/12)
Doors Open 2012 (Aug 13/12)
Let It Rain, Rain, Rain (Sep 15/12)
Volksfest 2012 (Oct 1/12)

Why I Skipped Grimsby (Nov 11/12)
December '95 (Dec 2/12)
Five Oh Eight (Dec 31/12)
Ontario Leather Plates: Fake or Not? (Jan 26/13)
Photobox (Feb 24/13)
Half Acton (May 7/13)
Kids' Day Out (May 26/13)
Overcharged in Oro (Jun 16/13)
Merrickville 2013 (Jul 19/13)
Bugging (Aug 27/13)
Opengo-Monck Travelogue (Sep 11/13)
Friday Night in the Garage (Sep 29/13)
Long Time Coming (Oct 29/13)
August '97 (Nov 23/13)
Behind the Bars (Dec 28/13)
Peoria '96 (Jan 18/14)
Bleak Midwinter (Feb 15/14)
Photobox '14 (Mar 12/14)
Lightning Striking Again (Apr 5/14)
Acton in the Arena (May 5/14)
A Gran Torino Day Out (May 28/14)
Daddy - Daughter - Barrie (Jun 8/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Monday (Jul 21/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Tuesday (Jul 27/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Wednesday (Aug 3/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Thursday (Aug 10/14)
Rochester 2014 - The Friday (Aug 29/14)

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