For the members that came together for the 2015 convention May 14th through 17th, all roads led to Omaha. It was here that we met up to renew friendships, make new ones and share our common interest in scales. There were plenty of opportunities to remind us all why we so much enjoy the chance to mingle with our fellow scalies. The on and off bursts of rainstorms did not deter anyone from fully experiencing all the weekend had to offer. (Click on photos to see larger images.)
The convention got off to a splashing start Thursday as we spent the evening at the Kingdoms of the Sea Aquarium, part of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. After wandering through the aquarium at our own pace we helped ourselves to the excellent buffet and set down at one of the tables located in the Shark Tunnel. Needless to say, it was an out of the ordinary experience to leisurely chow down (fortunately, no fish on the menu!) while watching the sharks, sting rays, sea turtles and other marine animals of varying sizes swimming overhead and zipping by beside you. Most everyone let their “inner child” roam free to enjoy the penguins – numbering about 80 the population is made up of the King, Gentoo and Rockhopper varieties – as well as the mesmerizing translucent jellyfish and the ocean bird exhibit featuring tufted puffins, along with all the many other displays. The evening was a pleasant relaxing time to start catching up with folks you hadn’t seen for a while.
Just as promised, Friday was a day with “no long bus rides”. First stop was the private museum of Les Schneiderman filled to the brim with scales, weights, apple peelers, ice cream scoops, coffee grinders, boot jacks, twine ball holders and antique staplers to mention only the larger collections.
The folks that hadn’t been here before were overwhelmed at say the least. The ones who had seen it before were still in awe finding stuff they hadn’t seen on their last visit. Plenty of time was allowed to make multiple circuits knowing on the next one you were going to see something you didn’t spot on your previous go-around. Between laps there was visiting with others who had just arrived, as well as consultations with those who were knowledgeable about certain scales.
After everyone had fully satisfied their desire to see everything they could possibly see, it was back on the bus for the short ride to lunch at WheatFields. Again time was not pressing and all could get in some more visiting over the delicious lunch that was served. The real anxiety came as we exited through the bakery while trying not to stop to purchase anything from the counter displaying enormous assortments of sumptuous-looking sweet concoctions. Some could not resist the temptation giving into the wonderful aroma, and were seen carrying extra paper bags onto the bus. The early afternoon return left time for those who wanted to tour the area, shop at the nearby mall or just hang out in the lobby with others.
Some gathered in the parking lot since Bob Hayden announced that he had brought some mismatched and miscellaneous weights to sell out of his car trunk. He took the idea from when we visited the German Society in 2010. It was a multi-purpose sale as he was able to downsize his collection, pass on items that were of interest to other members and at the same time support ISASC as all proceeds were donated to our museum. It was well received and the convention committee is looking into having a similar event next year with more participating sellers. Soon the evening was upon us and the official convention got underway with the Collectors’ Get-Together and Album Sharing.
First on the Saturday morning line-up were Greg Moss and Utz Schmidt presenting their program on Louis Jaenichen, son of a German immigrant, who contributed significantly to the development of Michigan’s early scale industry. He was a machinist working with the Standard Computing Scale Company of Detroit, and developed many patented inventions.
Judy Soslau injected a lighthearted presentation entitled “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?”. Instead of classifying scales by type, she wanted to extend the idea of classifying scales by purpose by showing slides of scales specifically used to weigh items that fall into these three areas.
Her very favorite is the cricket scale, obviously under the realm of animal, which is used in Chinese cultures to weight crickets prior to cricket fights organized by humans for their entertainment. Betting on these traditional crickets fights was used as an avenue to get around the government ban on gambling. Throughout her program Judy encouraged audience participation, and no one was bashful just having fun with it.
Always glad to have a new member speaker, we welcomed Ernie Segundo giving his program “I’ve Got It, I’ve Got It, What Is It?”. Ernie gave us a brief rundown on starting his collection, his enthusiasm for acquiring a new scale before he really understood what he had and his efforts to research his new scales to discover more about them. Having recently purchased all the back issues of EQM, he expressed how much he has learned by going through them, and how impressed he is with the vast amount of information contained in the articles.
As always Saturday afternoon was devoted to the time-honored Silent Auction and Let’s Make a Deal. Bill and Jan Berning had already riled up extra interest this year by sending out a pre-convention notice to members with a listing of items from the Ken Goodhue Collection. Attendees let them know what items they wanted, and Bill and Jan brought those along with others to put into the auction. Sales were brisk at all tables resulting in additions to many members’ collections. Some were seen loading up several boxes of scales and weights to be taken to their new home. No one who wanted to add to their collection walked away empty-handed.
The gala reception and banquet closed out the day. It is the occasion to honor those who have contributed to the betterment of our Society. This year two members who are going off the board of directors were recognized for their tremendous service. As convention chairman Bill James served on the board for six years. Cliff Lushbough served four years as EQM Liaison. Both are remaining as active members, but are stepping down from the board to allow others to become more involved. Cliff and Bill were each presented a plaque with a mounted scale as a memento to show our appreciation for all their effort on behalf of ISASC.
Sunday morning Show and Tell kicked off with Judy Soslau showing one of her favorite scales. It is marked E Sirret patented sometime around 1884. It is rather unique with a system of levers that are engaged when the load is placed on the pan. Ben Smith brought a recent acquisition. It is a parcel post spring balance with a handle and hook on both ends made by the H. F. Patton Manufacturing Company, Cleveland, OH. The postal rates are on the back, and there are two springs with separate scales, one weighing in ounces and the other weighing in pounds.
Greg Moss showed a Hershey Powder Balance made by Mark L. Hershey, Hillsdale, MI, complete with the written instructions. The curious part is that the weights are coiled pieces of copper. Mike Foster presented an early multi-coin English rocker balance with a sliding poise. He explained why he is convinced that all research points to the maker being Christopher Pinchbeck, at that time a well-known London “mechanician” or, as we would say, engineer.
Kurt Beyreis showed slides of a tonometer to measure the pressure of the eye to test for glaucoma. He related his personal experience with this device when getting his eyes tested while he lived in Saudi Arabia. Normally used with anesthesia, he described it as a “torture” device when in his case anesthesia was not used.
He next showed a slide of a windmill weight made by Fairbanks-Morse he found in an antique shop on his drive from Virginia to Omaha. Although he left it at the store, it piqued his interest so he did some research on these types of weighs which he shared with us. Their purpose was a counterbalance to the gearing in the windmill. He noted that collections of these weights has increased dramatically in the last few years with the prices commensurate with this increased interest. Hence, maybe a clue why he left it!
The business meeting finished up the morning and the convention concluded with the farewell luncheon. Those that were leaving said their goodbyes with promises to see everyone at next year’s gathering.
Our hostess Jan Schneiderman invited all those who were staying over Sunday night to her house for dinner. We were served a delicious spread of Italian classic dishes. Over lasagna and chicken parmesan we spent a few more hours visiting and enjoying each other’s company. Then it was time to head back to the hotel and say our final goodbyes with one last toast in the lounge.
The 2016 convention will be held May 12th through 16th in Chicago, Illinois. There will be an added spark of excitement as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of ISASC. Hosts Bill and Jan Berning and Don and Donna Schoenly have some special treats planned for us to commemorate this milestone. President Bob Hayden, and all the board members, personally invite you to join them. So mark your calendar for next May to make Chicago your kind of town. See ya there!