Viewof a Jarrrrring Event!

Friday January 9th - Somewhereover Ohio.
I’m flying to Indianapolis, Indiana to attend the winterversion of the semi-annual Fruit Jar Show and Get-Together,sponsored by the Midwest Antique Fruit Jar and Bottle Club.It’s been five years since I last attended and I’mthinking about how it may have changed. Would the show stillattract dealer/collectors from across the entire country? Wouldthe traditional Saturday ‘room hopping’ be asintense?

Part ofthe over 100 collectors who attended the Saturday afternoon FruitJar Get-Together, Show and Tell, and Auction

The show advertisement was inviting, ‘two days crammedfull of exciting events! Come for our Saturday activities andSunday show’. Inviting indeed, reading theadvertisement conjured up old memories of past Indy Shows Iattended.
Like, one year arriving late on a Saturday afternoon, catchingthe end of the fruit jar get-together / show and tell, and seeingon the table, not one, but two, early 1800’s salt-glazestoneware wax seal jars which used to contain ‘pickledoyster’. They were the first I’d ever seen.
Setting up in my room Saturday evening with bottles and a fewjars, and having Roy Brown, one by one take the jars to otherrooms, bringing back money in return.
Anxiously waiting for a collector from Southern Illinois toarrive just before the show opened because a prior phone calltold me he was bringing in a GII-11,
Eagle/Cornucopia in YELLOW-AMBERto look at.
Spending several hours one Saturday afternoon in Alex Kerr’sroom listening as Alex tells of target ball collecting and trapshooting. And how he was able to find a long forgotten shootingrange out in the desert, where from the broken shards was able topiece together a target ball that to this day no one has everseen.
Fond memories, but would it be the same?

Part ofJim Hall's sales table. Jim always has a good selection ofbottles and flasks, but no jars.

I was brought back to reality by the landing gear of our Fokker100 bouncing onto the runway, bringing to an end the two hourflight from Philadelphia.
A quick spin through baggage claim, followed by a 20 minute taxiride, and I arrive at the Ramada Inn East, home for the next fewdays.
Although it is only about 1 p.m. on Friday, the activity hadbegun. I quickly set on top of my rooms television the 12 bottlesI’ve brought along to sell, then opted for cruising up anddown the three hallways looking for open doors and things to buy.The hotel assigned three hallways of rooms, all on the firstfloor, for the ‘fruit jar collectors’. I soon stumbleinto the room of Jerry McCann, who informs me that “Igot here Thursday, and a few people had room set-up’s in theevening’, but most will be arriving today.” Jerrypublishes the ‘Fruit Jar Annual’, and mailsout periodic jar lists to his buyers. Jerry was correct as allthroughout the day fruit jars, (and a few bottles), were hauledfrom vehicles into waiting rooms. unpacked and put up on display.Remember this is only Friday, the ‘official’show started Sunday morning.
Label Space columnist, Tom Caniff and wife Deena, have a roomfull of jars, as does Don ‘Mr. Mason’ Burkett.I meet Bob Glover in the hallway, he’s part of a group ofjar collectors who have traveled from California to attend. LarryMunson from Shelby, Montana is here, as is John Vander Schouwfrom Bradenton, Florida. I see target ball and fruit jar guruAlex Kerr talking to George McConnall and Bob Tompkins from NewJersey. About a month earlier George sold to an Ohio collectorwhat was by many considered to be one of the finest collectionsof jars ever assembled. But George was still here at Indy, eventhough he no longer collected jars, “I come to meet myfriends”, George exclaimed, “that’s the
realfun of the hobby anyway.”
No show except the large advertised National events can claim asmany collectors attending from so many different states as theIndy shows can. By late evening as many as 40 rooms were open,each presenting a mini-jar / bottle show. One collector notedthat: “The Indy show’s are unique in that even ifthere wasn’t a show on Sunday, everyone would have had therefill of buying. selling, and meeting old friends, on the two daysbefore.”
Friday was a long day, and I’m tired. I sleep late Saturdaymorning, too late and I miss the Jelly Jammer get-together, thefirst of the advertised Saturday activities.

DougLaybourne, he publishes the Fruit Jar redbook, attended the show.


A few cups of coffee and a late lunch bring me back to life andI’m ready to go. I even stay in my room for a while, hopingthat a rare bottle collector would show interest in one of the 12bottles I brought to sell. (Remember this is mostly a JARSHOW with traditional bottle collectors being in theheavy minority.)
Person after person pop into the room, take a quick look around,see no jars and head out. But I’m patient, and sometimes ---SOMETIMES, patience pays off.
“Now here’s a bottle collector!” I tellmyself, as Sheldon Baugh enters my room. Sheldon is up from theneighboring State of Kentucky, looking for bitters and Shakerbottles for his collection. He spies my dozen decorating the topof the TV set and moves in. A few minutes later he has a bottlein a bag, and I have a check in hand. One down, 11 more to go.
But I’m out of time. It’s 1:30 p.m. and the
big Fruit JarGet-Together is about to begin. This get-together has to be oneof the highlights of the year for fruit jar collectors. With wellover 100 in attendance Show Chairman Norm Barnett begins theproceedings.
First the usual introductions where everyone in the room isinvited to stand, give there name, and tell all what theycollect.

Animpressive grouping of colored Trade Mark Lightning fruit jarswere offered by Chicago's Jerry McCann. Many rooms were openFriday and Saturday offering jars and bottles for sale.

This is followed by the show-and-tell part where anyone wishingto share a jar, or jars from their collection can do so by comingforward giving a short explanation of what they have brought,then placing it on the display table for all to see later.(Remember this is where I saw those two stoneware Oyster jars,but none were here this year.)
Show-and-tell is followed by a short intermission lasting till3:30, when the annual jar auction begins. The jars for auctioncan be supplied by anyone in attendance. They are put on a tableduring the course of the get-together and then auctioned.
Leon Shores, a licensed auctioneer and fruit jar collector fromMissouri, handles the gavel and calls the auction.
I watch the first few lots sell, then leave to check out the roommini-shows to see ‘who new’ has arrived.

Among the ‘new’ is Jim and Jodie Hall fromChicago. Jim rarely has jars for sale but will have by far themost, and best, quality bottles at Sunday’s almost all jarshow.
By early Saturday evening most of the room mini-shows are open,and a continuous flow of collectors travel up-and-down thehallways. Jim Hall stops by and ‘lucky me’ Isell another bottle. As I pack the remaining 10 bottles into abox to take to the show in the morning, I think about the severalthousand jars in the mini-shows that have to be packed up. Thethought brings a devious smile to my face.

Rarecobalt blue wax seal jars were offered for sale by Ohio's AlVignon.


I hate Sunday morning set-ups! Being a ‘nightperson’ 7 am in the morning should be when one rollsover and gets a couple more hours sleep. But it’s show timeand I have to respond. Begrudgingly I do, figuring my morningcoffee will make things right.
The last Indy show I attended was held in a Holiday Inn. Severalyears ago the club changed location to a more upscale Ramada Inn.
Entering the well lit showroom I quickly find my sales table andtaking all of 30 seconds unpack my remaining 10 bottles.
As the room begins to fill, it is quite obvious that this is THEjar show of shows. Table tops full of jars, racks on top of tabletops full of jars. Jars, jars, and more jars!
I take a spin around the room. Besides an overwhelming number ofjar dealers ‘The Jar Doctor’, Wayne Lowry, ishere and showing a potential customer how his bottle cleaningmachine works. Part of Doug Leybourne’s table is used topromote his recently updated Red Book #8, The Collector’sGuide to Old Fruit Jars. And long-time jar collector Dick Rolleris offering his ‘Fruit Jar Newsletter’.
Back at my table I check the location of my 10 remaining bottles,seeing if any potential buyers had examined them while I wasaway. No luck, but the day is still young.
A steady crowd came and went throughout the entire day, and I wasconstantly engaged in conversation with people I had not seen inquite some time. I enjoy shows that have ‘action’most of the day, so before you know it, it’s time to beginpacking up.
My flight home doesn’t leave until
7 p.m. soI’m in no rush, I take another trip around the room and endup taking a few pictures of the displays.
By 5 p.m., it was all over and the room was empty except for therows of white table clothed tables, Chairman Norm Barnett, andsome of the California crowd, who weren’t flying home untilMonday.
As I pass by the hotel lobby I spy Jon Vander Schouw, who alsohas a late flight, passing time reading a book.
We talk. Jon only attends a few shows a year, mostly in his homestate of Florida. Every so often however, he finds the time totravel to Indy. “Last year when my wife asked me what Iwanted for Christmas, I told her she could buy me an airplaneticket to Indy.” Jon said, “this show was myChristmas gift!”

A.B. &G.C. "Peoples Choice"ribbon was awarded to Al Vignon (right) for his colorful displayof Mason jars. That's George McConnell holding the ribbon.

I’m in the air again, returning home. The two hour flightwill pass quickly as a give much thought to the just completedshow. Was it as good as when I last attended five years earlier?I thought so. Personally I sold three of the 12 bottles I broughtalong, that’s 25% and hey Virginia, that ain't bad! But moreimportantly I renewed acquaintances with collectors, some of whomI hadn’t seen in years.
For a jar collector the Indy shows are flat out asgood-as-it-gets! Pure and simple if you collect fruit jars you MUSTin the course of your collecting career make a pilgrimage to atleast ONE Indy fruit jar show.
To a fruit jar collector its the ‘Mecca’ of the fruitjar collecting world.
On a sadder note: Shortly after returning from Indy, GeorgeMcConnell fell at home. He was taken to the hospital where hepassed away on Jan. 4th. George meant much to the fruit jarcollecting community. He was one of the ‘grandmasters’ of jar collecting, amassing an impressivecollection that included many rare and important jars. But Georgewas much more than a jar collector. He was a good ambassador forthe hobby, always greeting you with a smile while handing you asmall candy treat that he would carry in his coat pocket.
George has been to the ‘Mecca’ many times, soit seems only fitting that his final trip to the Indy jar show,would be the last show he would ever attend.

TheOld Traveler

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