“Up in the morning and off to school…” School Days, Chuck Berry, Chess Records, 1957
Around 7 AM on the morning of June 23, I finished my tea and other morning preparations at the dining room table, and then said my goodbyes to friends Steve, Michael, and Eelco. I was off to The Springs, some 4.5 hours or so away, but the drive is so pretty the time flies, and with a lunch break down in Salida, the trip was completely bearable. I returned the car and made my way to the CS Airport lobby where I hooked up with the ANA ‘nerd-herd’ and enjoyed the 20-minute shuttle ride to ANA Headquarters at 818 N. Cascade in The Springs.
We stay every summer in the dorms at Colorado College, with the ever-present 14,000’+ Pikes Peak looming just a few miles from campus. (ANA HQ is actually located on Colorado College property.) After checking in and getting my class notes and other items in order, I dug into the deli lunch spread laid out by the ANA each year on check-in day. Then I strolled down to my dorm room and made myself at home, unpacking and killing time until the 5 PM trek to the college cafeteria in Worner Hall. It’s always a hit-or-miss proposition at the cafeteria – the meal is either atrocious, or it’s impressively good. I have to confess: I’ve been going out to The Springs since 2001 as an instructor, sitting nearly every night while there on the huge patio nicknamed ‘the lunar lounge,’ and majestic Pikes peak is always on my horizon while there, but I’ve never snapped a picture of it and its equally impressive range-mate and neighbor, Cheyenne Mountain, home to NORAD. Strange.
It was Saturday night and classes didn’t begin until Sunday morning at 9 o’clock, so co-instructor and roomie, Dave Lange, historian and jack-of-all trades at NGC – and easily among the three or four most all-around knowledgeable guys I’ve ever met in the hobby, and believe me, I’ve met them all. We spent a little time in the lunar lounge, enjoying the sunset behind Pikes Peak, and then turned in early to our respective pods to catch up on sleep.
Sunday morning, I awoke at 6 AM and showered, then went over to the dining hall for breakfast at 7:30. The oatmeal that morning was memorable in that you could count the individual flakes in the murky water supply in which it festered; it was the beginning of several mornings with the old reliable, bacon on toast, at hand. Off to class from 9 to 11:30, lunch break until 1, then more classroom study 1 to 4. This year’s class was a special one indeed. For years we handed out spiral-bound notebooks with old-fashioned line drawings of each type in the Red Book, half cents through double eagles, suitable for drawing on and taking notes, all this accompanied by an old Bell & Howell-like overhead transparency projector – talk about 19th-century, oops, 20th-century technology!
This year was different, however, thanks entirely to the Herculean efforts put forth by Dave Lange. He single-handedly moved our program to a full-color power point presentation in his “spare time,” and used the photo files at NGC to produce a full-color photo of every design type. Then the ANA printed a gorgeous full-color course book for us – it was the talk of the campus. There were 14 copies printed in a luxurious format, illustrating all the design types we would be discussing, as well as designer info, weights, diameters, edge style, etc. for each design type, with each type on a page of its own. A monumental achievement on the parts of Dave, NGC, and the ANA, in my opinion – it sometimes works out in life that others do the work and you get to bask in the afterglow; this year’s Summer Seminar was one of those times for me. But back to the new course book. It was so professional and beautiful that a few of our 10 students, including our lone YN, asked if the books were theirs to keep! The 10 students and the two instructors each got one copy, and the instructors received so many requests for an extra copy that they each kept two copies rather than make enemies – total: 14 copies. This writer’s spare copy will probably appear in next year’s YN auction out in The Springs; it may even be autographed. Of one thing I’m certain, to keep the integrity of this first-year copy, I am going to ask the ANA to date next summer’s copy 2019 on the cover – this summer’s first-year copies have no date!
Sunday night Dave and I made our annual trip to the Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., about 10 blocks south of the campus. As luck would have it we arrived at Happy Hour and any brew in the joint was $3. We each had a craft brew and a great, as always, bar-food dinner and headed back to the campus thanks to Dave and Uber.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday went off without hitch for breakfast, the classes, lunches, and dinners. On Tuesday night, the instructors at the summer seminar were the guests of Tom and Tien Hallenbeck at a cocktail and hors douvres reception hosted by them at an exclusive Springs club – very nice all around!
Later Tuesday night, under a bright full moon over the campus, the inimitable Jerry Bobbe, awarded the patio dwellers with an hour or so of incredible Bach, Beethoven, et al, played on his cello. Wednesday was ‘grade the instructors day,’ and while we wandered the halls staring in at other classes, our students filled out forms and talked among themselves about our effectiveness and ability to deliver, etc.; the ANA uses this feedback to judge the instructors, but Dave and I generally do okay! Wednesday night is banquet night, which had its share of the usual nerd hilarity, and Jerry Bobbe and Tom Hallenbeck were made honorary Doctors of Numismatics.
Thursday was uneventful – up at 3:30 AM to catch the 4 AM ANA shuttle to the airport to catch my 6:15 flight to Denver and then Logan in Boston, where I arrived in time to join the 5 PM traffic morass that is rush hour; it wasn’t half so bad as I’d expected, so I’ll quit my whining, and I arrived in one piece but a little tired at my home around 7 PM. Tiring though it was, time and circumstances allowing, I hope to do it all over again next year!
Don’t forget to look for another blog next week – I’ll tell you all about the tailor and his coins!*
*Sorry for the delay in the blog - my publisher was out of the country - but we're all back in one piece and back to work!