The summer is just about over and it was time for one last trip before I had to head back to work. Over the Labor Day weekend I headed to Springfield, Massachusetts for the Brewery Collectibles Club of America (BCCA) Canvention.
I used some of my Delta Sky Miles to book my flight from DTW to BDL so my choices were limited to a few schedules. The best choice for me was the flight that left DTW at 7:25am on August 30th. I figured I would get to the airport early and have time to eat before departure so I had the taxi cab at my house at 5:25am. Not much was going on at DTW at that hour so I was through security by 5:50am. The only other times I have been to DTW that early was on Thanksgiving morning and it is not exactly busy, but much busier than this.
I was able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at National Coney Island, with a breakfast of French toast and sausage links.
After breakfast I headed over to my gate to find few people waiting and an Airbus A320 waiting for us.
It took hardly any time to board the A320 because the load wouldn’t have strained a CRJ-200. We pushed back right on schedule and were in the air in no time. We took off heading south near Monroe and Lake Erie
Then we turned around and headed northeast over Detroit and Lake St. Clair.
We were served a snack, which I ate while reading the latest Airways Magazine.
The flight was smooth and perfect and as we descended we got a great view of the green countryside.
When we landed at Bradley International and there was hardly any traffic moving about and we rolled up to the gate 20 minutes early.
There were a large number of people in the gate area waiting for the return flight and the concourse was somewhat busy.
I liked these hand sanitizing stations I saw around BDL
The walk to the baggage claim took me into the terminal which I thought was rather nice and well equipped, considering the small size of the airport.
By the time I got to the baggage carousel my suitcase was already there and I headed over to the cab stand.
I did stop to look at this cut up boat advertising a boat repair business; I hadn’t seen anything like that in an airport before.
I had booked a ticket on Amtrak from Windsor Locks, Connecticut to Springfield, Massachusetts for a train leaving at 11:30, but I was early and it looked like I could make the 9:45 train. I grabbed a cab and headed to the station. I know it isn’t a long cab ride, but I like trains as much as I like airplanes so when you can fly and take a train it is a good thing.
I arrived at the Windsor Locks “station” with about seven minutes to spare. The “station” was the most pitiful railroad station I ever saw, it looks more like a bus stop.
When the train arrived there was only one person getting off and I asked the conductor if I could get on, even though I had a booked ticket for a later train. He said that it wasn’t a problem and I was on and off we went.
Once onboard I could see why this wasn’t a problem; there was hardly anyone on the train. I think this is the old New Haven line between New Haven and Springfield.
The views from the train were nice as the ride was along the Connecticut River and in about 25 minutes we pulled into the Springfield depot. Once in Springfield I headed over to the Sheraton Hotel and got my room key, as my buddy Don and his wife, Mary Ellen (who I was sharing the room with) arrived the day before. The view from the room was very nice.
After dropping my bags I headed over to Mass Mutual Center where the trade floor was.
I saw a few neat things in Springfield while walked the couple blocks to the hall.
You may be asking what is the BCCA? The Brewery Collectibles Club of America was once known as the Beer Can Collectors of America and is the largest North American organization devoted to the brewery collectible hobby, but membership is open to collectors from anywhere in the world. To learn more go to www.bcca.com
The BCCA was founded, in St. Louis, Missouri back in 1970 and has their national meeting, called Canvention, in a different city every year. Last year it was in Covington, Kentucky and next year it will be in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The BCCA has about 3500 members and around 600 members and guests attended this year. The trade (buy-sell-trade) floor is opened to the public on the last day and there is always a lot of local walk-ins.
I collect any and all items from the Falstaff Brewing Corporation and there are all kinds of collectors. Some people specialize in a certain geographical area, some a specific decade, a particular brewery, cans, bottles, tap handles, you name it. You will see beer cans at the show that are given away for free to cans that sell in the five figure range. The most valuable cans are the 1930s-1950s cans and the most valuable are from either very small brewers (which would be considered a micro brewery today or unusual brand from a major brewer.
Back in the 1970s the hobby was HUGE and a lot of cans were over inflated in value and a lot of people thought that all the 1970s cans would be worth a lot someday and hoarded them. Today there are more cans from the 1970s than there are buyers and many of these cans are either given away to new collectors or are sold for .25 cents each.
The trade floor is always a great place!
In the evening, on the 30th, we held the Falstaff Chapter meeting and six Falstaff collectors joined us. There were two others at the Canvention, but they had other meetings at the same time.
Don Roussin, Kevin Kious, Art Zerby, Bryan Monaco (me), Al Kell and Mike Bender
After the meeting we headed over to Theodore’s for some BBQ and more beer
When we returned it was time for the much loved micronight where local brewers come to let us sample their wares. We had 17 brewers serving 30 different beers and the party lasted officially to 1am.
Kevin Kious, Don Roussin and Mike England
The next morning I felt like crap, a usual morning issue at Canvention, and I headed over to the business meeting which is always quit, due to the hundreds of hangovers in the room. Kevin’s wife, Patty, gave a speech at the meeting and Patty is a great asset to the BCCA.
After the meeting it was time for a hog slopper of a breakfast and then head over to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Basketball was invented in Springfield, by Dr. James Naismith, in 1891.
The Hall of fame was just right down the road from the hotel and it only took me about fifteen minutes.
I really enjoyed the hall of fame and I was able to see a lot of neat items from basketball’s past; including high school, college, the pros, and the Olympics.
They even had a basketball court you could play on and by the afternoon many people were.
I even saw a couple of pieces of breweriana there. These uniforms from the 1946 ladies AAU championship team;
F.W. Cook was a brewery in Evansville, Indiana that closed in 1955. I also got to see Dan Issel’s uniform from the ’83-84 Denver Nuggets which was special to me because he and Alex English were my two favorite Nuggets when I was a kid and dad and I would go to McNichol’s Arena and cheer them on.
After a fun morning and early afternoon at the Hall of Fame I headed back to the trade floor to look for my buddy Don so we could walk over to the Springfield Armory, which was about ½ mile from the Mass Mutual Center.
Don and I walked up the hill and checked out the Museum, which was the USA’s premier firearm manufacturing plant and armory from 1777 to 1968.
The Armory had a fantastic collection of military firearms and not all of them were American either.
Also on display were several machines and pieces of manufacturing equipment
The Armory is the place to go if you have an interest in guns or military history.
By this time it was time to get back to the hotel and cleanup for dinner, which I had at a place called Nadim’s Lebanon Grill. Nadim’s was great and I would recommend it to anyone who likes that kind of food. Before long it was time to head back into the hotel for another night of drinking. There were two parties going on and most people made an effort to go to both. The Jersey Shore Chapter always sponsors one party and the Rusty Bunch Chapter does the other.
Kevin and Bryan
Bryan, Al, Mary Ellen and Mike
I am partial to the Rusty Bunch Chapter’s party because one of the Falstaff Chapter members, John Kottemann, is in the Rusty Bunch Band, which only plays at Canvention. That is John on the left.
Again I was drunk, along with most everyone else and I was off to bed around 1am. Some of the partiers kept going until 3am.
I was able to sleep in on Saturday so I felt fine and was ready to hit the trade floor again. You would think that I would have seen it all the first couple of days, but I always miss some things and this year was no exception. I successfully purchased every Falstaff being item, on the trade floor that I didn’t already own (Sometimes there is nothing on the floor I don’t already own). Some friends and I stayed on the floor to the end of the show and watched people pack up.
That evening was the banquet and I never go to that thing. I don’t like banquets because the food is usually expensive and unappetizing so I headed over to “The Fort” “Student Prince”, which is a fantastic German restaurant, which has been there since 1935. I can’t say enough good things about my meal.
After dinner I decided to take a walk and I crossed the bridge into West Springfield and got a nice view of the hotel and the Springfield skyline.
I was able to get a ride up to a store called “Table & Vine” to get some beer for the upcoming party. I was able to get some classics; Narragansett, Ballantine Ale, and Haffenreffer. Falstaff bought Narragansett in 1965 and Ballantine in 1972. Haffenreffer sold out to Narragansett in 1964, and it became a Falstaff brand. All three of these brands are still made, but Falstaff, which once had far more market share than these three combined has been gone since 2005.
My new buddy, Jeff, and I returned to the hotel to drop off the beer.
The party was a hot rod, as usual and almost all of the beer was consumed. I brought six Narragansetts home with me. Kevin and I found some Church Key Pilsners somebody left on the tradefloor and iced them down for drinking at the party. Church Key is a brewery from Washington, who is using an old style flat top can, that you need an opener for. The beer cans we had were heat damaged so the top/bottoms were puffed out.
We had a hell of time opening them because the lids were so damaged you could get a grip with the church key (can opener). Prior to 1962 all beer cans were either flat top, where a can opener was needed or a cone top, which has a regular bottle cap.
Due to the heat damage they foamed like crazy, so Don opened his on the floor.
That party broke up early for most of us because a lot of people had flights in the morning or long drives back home. My flight didn’t leave until 12:40, but I was traveling back to BDL with seven other people, who were leaving earlier so I left the hotel at 7:45am. It took about ½ hour to get back down to BDL and I am glad we weren’t going the other way. There was a large backup from what looked like a truck brake fire, which resulted from a brake system failure.
We arrived at BDL and everyone went their separate ways; some to US, some to WN, one to UA and me to DL. I was offered the earlier flight back to DTW for $50 and I declined considering I was in no rush to get home. After we all cleared security we met up and hung around until one by one we all departed. BDL was full of BCCA people so there were lots of people to talk to while waiting for our flights.
I headed down to my gate and there wasn’t much going on and the only excitement came from my gate where the Michigan State ladies volleyball team was goofing around. They were playing some sort of board game and rolling the dice around in the trophy they had won at the tournament they were playing in.
My flight left BDL right on time and we were back at DTW a few minutes early. This BDL-DTW flight was operated by Compass (CP) with an Embraer E-175. The flight was rather bumpy, but nothing serious. Just before my flight left the fire alarm went off and the announcement said we might have to evacuate, but nobody seemed to pay attention to it.
DTW was much busier than BDL and there were a lot of people walking around.
I was happy to the Welcome to Michigan sign because even though travel is fun and exciting it is always nice to be back home.
I headed over to baggage claim only to find my suitcase wasn’t on it. I pulled out my phone and saw that I had an email from DL saying that my bag was put on the earlier BDL-DTW flight and I could claim it at baggage services. I was happy because I thought my lifelong streak of no baggage loss was coming to an end.
My buddy, Marty, picked me up and drove me back home where it was time to rest, unpack and enjoy my last day of summer vacation before I have to return to work.