I graduated from the eight grade in 1946 and from Mt. Carmel High School at Vancleve,
Breathitt County, Ky. in 1950. A month after graduation I entered the Air Force seven days
before the Korean War started and stayed until my retirement in 1970. I served two tours
of duty in Japan; one was from 1952-53 and the other was from 1956-1958. The first
tour was at Tachikawa AFB and the other was Yokota AFB, Fusa, six miles from Tachikawa.
Both bases were thirty mles from Tokyo. My first tour included the last of the occupation
forces in Japan and the ending of hostiities in Korea by a truce agreement. I was at the
airport when the prisoners of war were returned. One can never forget this. It was not a
second tour was much more pleasant. I had a few more dollars added to my paycheck and I
could afford a few more luxuries. I bought one of the first Minolta cameras on the market.
I used it extensively. Whenever I had a few days off, I would do a lot sightseeing. I went
to Kamakura to see the Great Buddha, the largest in the world, I played golf at the base
of Mt. Fuji, and I toured Tokyo quite frequently. I drove under the Tokyo Tower while it
was being constructed in 1958. My friends and I would play golf at different military
bases or sometimes we would travel several miles to cafeteria at another base for just a
cup of coffee.
September of 1958, China began to make threats against Tiawan. At four A.M. one morning,
my First Sergeant woke me and gave me a list of airmen to get their field packs and be
ready for shipment by five; destination secret. We were ready to go and we were
transported by bus to Tachikawa for shipment. Like everything else, it was hurry up
and wait. After a four hour wait, we finally boarded the plane. Once in flight, we were
notified that China was ready to invade Tiawan and we were going Tiawan to build up their
defense forces. When China saw that we had called their bluff, they changed their
minds. I was there for ninety days. I was able to go to Tiapei several times, but Tiawan
was not my idea of being in a fun place. When my time was up, I was glad to get back to
Japan. Thirty days later, I was on my way back to the United States.
I left Japan in 1958, I was sent to Lowry AFB, Denver, Co. to learn the bombing navigation
systems in B-47 aircrafts. After graduation, I was sent to Pease AFB, Portsmouth. N.H.
This was the turning point in my life. I met the best friend who anyone could
have at this base. His name was Ray Foley. Both of us were always trying to earn extra
money. We tried different things until we had an opportunity to buy a little greasy spoon
restaurant. Ray's girlfriend, Gloria Marchioni, worked at Towle Silversmiths in
Newburyport, Ma. Her best friend was Ellen Jones. They were going to make the menus.
One night the fryolater overflowed and there was grease all over the floor. I was busy
cleaning up the mess when I heard this voice ask me very sweetly what I was doing. Without
looking up, I said what in the world do you think that I am doing. She said "Oh,
pardon me and walked off." A few minutes later, Ray came in and told me that she had
made the menus for us. I went out to apologize and that was the beginning of the best days
for the rest of our lives. Two months later, Ray and I realized that cooking hamburgers
for drunks until two in the morning was not for us. We closed it down and had a big cook
out for the four of us. Two years later, on the 16th of February1963, Ellen and I were
married. From that day on, it was not about me anymore; it was about us. When Ray and
Gloria renewed their vows on their fortieth anniversary, we stood in again as best man and
bridesmaid. We recently celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. Ray passed away a few
years ago. .
I was stationed in Denver, I was introduced into coin collecting. I went from collecting
to buying and selling. When we were married, we were in it together. Everything that we
have done and accomplished has been as a team. We started to attend coin shows to buy and
sell and we were growing by leaps and bounds. This was all taking place while I was still
in the service. We started several coin clubs and I was instrumental in starting the New
Hampshire Numismatic Association. I also joined the American Numismatic Association and I
have been a life member since 1974. My wife has been a member since 1963.
1964, I was transferred to Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Az. I met an antique dealer who
wanted to go into the coin business. We became good friends and I would trade him coins
for antiques. We taught each other about the our business. While at Tucson, we became
involved in international numismatics and we were charter members in the Orginazation of
International Numismatics. Our reputation grew and we were known throughout the Southwest.
In 1966, I was transferred to Hahn AFB, Altlay, Germany and my wife went with me. We were
there for three years.
first thing we did was to take German courses that were taught on base. Within three
months, we became fluent in German. My wife learned the local dialect from our landlady.
This made her feel at home with the local population. We had a choice to live on or off
base. We had such a good relations with the people in the village that we decided to live
off base. We had our own automobile so we were able to do a lot of traveling. We also did
a lot of touring through the base services. We visited every castle and wine fest on the
Mosel and Rhine Rivers. We were also doing all the coin shows and auctions in the area. We
became well known and by our speaking the language, we made a lot of friends. Ellen was a
great asset. While I would be buying, she would go from table to table to see if a dealer
had something that we could use. She knew what she was doing. She would come back and tell
me that so and so had a coin that we needed. I would go by and dicker with him. We did
very well together.
were getting into antiques more and more and began traveling to different countries to buy
them. Altlay is a litle village on a hillside. We were three miles from the Mosel
River. The Mosel Valley produced the white sweet wines and the Rhine Valley produced the
stronger white wines. It had one great advantage; it was located on the Hohenstrasse,
known as the High Road. It was built by Hitler in 1936 to invade Luxembourg and Belgium.
They were only an hour's drive from where we lived. In six hours, I could be in The
Netherlands, eight hours to Switzerland, or Austria. Every two weeks, I would be in one of
those countries buying antiques and bringing them back to the base and selling them to the
we were in Germany, we visited every country in Western Europe, except Ireland. We also
had a beer at the October Fest in Munich and stayed overnight several times at Baden
Baden, Germany, It was a spa and a gambling place for the very wealthy and the royalty of
the world . We watched them coming and going from The Great Casino. I wanted to go to
the casino, but my wife said that we were not properly dressed. I took pictures
from the top of the Neuschwanstein, the one shown at Disney World. Neuschwanstein means
New Swan Castle. We stood at the base of Hitler's Lair in Berchtensgaden looking at the
top trying to decide if we wanted to take the cable car to the top, but decided not
to. We were touring The Romantic Road the day that Robert Kennedy was killed. We even
drove three hours to see the Pied Piper of Hamelin's birthplace. We parked our car near
the lake in Switzerland where William Tell was born and ate potted meat on hard rolls
with the cows nearby. We ate a lot of potted meat on on our trips. We went on a
seven-day tour to Rome and while we were there, we went to the Isle of Capri. I was almost
hit by a car while taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower and I walked in front of the
Changing of the Guards in London taking movies. The night before we left Germany, we were
staying in a Guest House watching the first moon landing. We all raised our glass of wine
as a toast and another one as a good-bye to our friends.
were going to Denver. I had sixteen months before retirement. We joined the area coin
clubs and did all the shows from Texas to California. We bought a house nearby and started
preparing for my retirement. I retired from the Air Force the first of December, 1970. I
went from the Air Force into a civilian job without any fanfare or retirement parades. I
did not want them. I worked for Safe Way Foods in Denver as electrical and hydraulic
technician on warehouse equipment. I did that for two years while expanding our coin
December 1972, we decided to sell our house and move back to New England so we could go
into the numismatic and antique business full time. We settled down in Amesbury, Ma.,
across the river from Newburyport where Ellen's mother was living. We met some of our
friends whom we had known while I was stationed at Portsmouth. Through hard work seven
days a week, sixteen hours a day, we built up our antique business to the point where we
had to decide which business was the best for us because we could not take care of two.
Because they were plentiful and had a quick turnover, we chose to stay with antiques.
were on the road every day going to every shop buying merchandise. When we got home, there
would be dealers waiting to see what we brought home. We went to every auction in the
area. We did all the shows and the flea markets. Our speciality was anything we could make
money on. My wife and I have been blessed with great memories. We could go to an auction,
see an item sell and if we saw one like it six months later, we could recall what it sold
for. To be successful in the antique business, one must know all the angles and the people
involved. You had to learn whom you could trust. Sometimes, we learned it the hard way. If
we knew that we made a mistake, we sold it immediately, even at a loss. Mistakes will hang
around forever and will drain cash flow. Out of sight, out of mind. Our motto was
"take the dough and go". In two weeks, it will be forgotten and the money that
you got for it can be used to buy something else. Like the Timex watch, you take a
licking, but you keep on ticking.
thing about us, we had an impeccable reputation. When we gave our word, we would keep it.
In six years, we had become one of the larger wholesale dealers in New England. In the
1980's when the antique business, especially Victorian, was really booming, we had dealers
coming almost every day from every state in the union plus Great Britian, France, Holland,
Italy, Japan. Australia, Korea and a several more. in 1981, three of us got together
and established one of the largest wholesale business in New England. I was with them for
five years. When we lost our lease on the building, my wife and I decided to at it alone.
We bought a piece of property next to our house and built a building for our antiques. Two
years later, we sold the building and extended our garage to accomodate our business. Word
got around that the best Victorian in New England came through our shop. We did this until
we decided to retire in 2007. All my friends said that it was impossible to retire from
the antique business because it was in our blood. I told them that the business was my
livlihood and not my life. We had been at it for over forty years. We had met a lot of
great and honest people and we had cherished friends in the business. I told everyone that
we would miss our friends, but not the business.
we auctioned off our collection of antiques in 2005, we had dealers from all over the
Eastern seaboard at our sale. I went inside the tent and thank them all for coming and
went into the house and let the auctioneer do his job. He was in charge and not me. When I
went outside again, everyone was gone and everything sold. The auctioneer and his
help were cleaning up. Everyone said that we got out at the right time.
ago, some of my co-workes and I were playing a game of cards. The others were complaining
about their wives. They looked at me and asked what I thought. I said that my one regret
was that I had not met my wife ten years earlier. It is true today. If it had not been for
her, I would not be writing this page. I told my wife that we have had one hell of a
ride and she said you are right, but it isn't over
update since this was written: On February 16, 2013, we celebrated out 50th anniversary
and I received my 50-year membership in the American Numismatic Association im May 2012.
Winston has passed on.
My very special friend in the Air force and forever