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Friday, August 1, 2014

The "Mecum Comes To Town" Story

1959 Oldsmobile that brought $70,000.
It was an ordinary day.  Sitting on the bleachers at the Harrisburg, PA Farm Show Arena.  The auctioneer with the gavel, Jim Landis, has just snapped it down on the counter in front of him and someone ended up with a bright red '59 Olds convertible.  For years I enjoyed watching the auto auctions that are part of my TV listings.  
Overall view of the auction "scenery."
Doesn't matter if it is Barrett-Jackson or Mecum Auto Auction,  I enjoy watching the flow of custom, antique, small block and big block muscle cars pass in front of the auctioneer and hearing the chant of ..... "Do I hear twenty, twenty, twenty ... how about twenty-one, twenty-one ...."  The workers in the crowd in front of him are screaming back to him the bids that are coming from their areas of the floor while the auctioneer creates a frenzied atmosphere in order to get the crowd to oblige with higher bids.  
One of the Mecum workers looking for bids.

Well, today I am sitting on the bleachers as those around me are making those bids.  A few weeks ago I saw an article in the local paper telling about Omar Landis, a car dealer extra- ordinaire and auctioneer, finally deciding to sell quite a few of his personal collection of collectible autos at auction in Harrisburg. Seems that the Mecum Auto Auction had decided to hit a town in the mid-east and picked Harrisburg as the site.  
One of the two huge screens that are at either end of the
red carpet where the cars are auctioned.  A photo of the
car is usually on the screen for those in the rear of the
Farm Show Arena to see as well as the price now being asked.
I told Carol I was finally going to get to see an auction in real time.  Asked my friend Dale if he was interested in going, so today we find ourselves sitting in the Farm Show Arena as part of the excitement that is an auto auction.  TV cameras are everywhere, since the auction is being streamed live on NBCSN.  When we first entered the building after paying our $20 entrance fee we checked out the 100 or so cars that filled the Farm Show Arena.  
Jim Landis of Lancaster is the auctioneer that holds the
gavel as he auctions off another automobile.
Took photo after photo of some of my favorites, then headed outside, under the big top, to view a couple hundred more cars waiting in line to head to the auction block.  Then it was time to find a spot on the bleachers and watch the auctioneer in action, trying to sell the pieces of art that we call automobiles.  Well, the gavel dropped on the '59 Olds at $73,000.  Dale told me that his dad had a car exactly like it when he was a kid.  Remembered riding in it on weekends to visit relatives.  
Shot taken from the end of the red carpet where the cars
are held until they either are sold or they do not reach
the owner's "Reserve" price and the car is pulled off the auction block.
Car was about the size of a boat with bullet taillights and a great chrome grill.  Car was designed by General Motors when cars were considered art.  I was having a great time watching just abut everything and anything that was taking place.  Finally convinced Dale to walk to the front with me so I could get a few photos of the cars coming on the red carpet for auction.  
TV crewman using his "boom" camera to take photos.
Even got to see and take a photo of Dana Mecum, the founder of the Mecum Auto Auctions.  Recognized him right away with his bright red shirt, exactly as it is when I watch him on TV.  My day at the auction was memorable as well as fun and I can now cross the experience off my bucket list.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Dana Mecum walking the red carpet.

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