On the weekend of April 29, 2011, the Association of Game & Puzzles Collectors held their annual national convention. This convention was the first I had attended despite the fact that conventions had been held for years. (The AGPC actually pre-dates the founding of Gamers Alliance, having been started a year before in 1985.) As anyone who knows me will attest, I hate to miss any opportunity to spend some quality time with quality people who share my passion for games. The incentive for me to attend this particular convention, however, was something special indeed as I was scheduled to receive the organization's Bradley-Parker Award for my work (and pleasure) in founding and heading Gamers Alliance for 25 years and to be the keynote speaker of the convention.
The site of the convention was Lancaster, Pennsylvania (which, coincidentally, is one of my favorite places on the planet!). My wife, Lynn, and I had a beautiful room at the Marriott at Penn Square in downtown Lancaster. Upon arrival, we were busy both unpacking and resting up (two diametrically opposed activities, of course, but we managed it anyway) before the Friday night activities would start. Suddenly, we heard a voice call "Room Service". Lynn and I looked at each other and figured it had to be something for the guests next door because we certainly hadn't ordered anything. A moment later, however, the door opened, a bell hop entered - and then exited as quickly as possible. He must have thought we were doing more than resting! (Unfortunately, we weren't!) We called him back and were presented with a complimentary bottle of wine! Pretty impressive and a great way to start the weekend festivities.
Friday night was a welcoming event topped off by a speaker who gave a lecture on, of all things, Bingo! In the World of Games, you can often dismiss the familiar and Bingo is certainly a game familiar to all. But Ben Brazil offered lots of insight into the origins and development of the game including some fascinating background material on E.S. Lowe who made a fortune from it. (The game helped bankroll his flamboyant lifestyle. Sex and Bingo! Who would have suspected?) That night, gaming sessions (and puzzle stuff) were going on. Couldn't pass up a few games to play. (Among the games played that weekend - either by me or by others - included games familiar to Gamers Alliance readers: Innovation, Trans-America, Ticket to Ride and 7 Wonders.)
Saturday involved more talks on games (and puzzles) with several AGPC members showing off (through slides) vintage games and puzzles among their collections. That night's activities included an "eBay quiz" hosted by Charlie Gross as our knowledge of game and puzzle values were (sorely) tested against the vagaries of auction sales. Finally, it was my turn to take the podium to receive the Bradley-Parker Award and, in return, talk about three of my favorite subjects: games, gaming and Gamers Alliance!
During the convention, there was some selling of games and puzzles as well as an auction. The auction was an eye-opener for me. The games went for $10, $20, maybe $50 but most much less. Bidding for the puzzles soared into the 5, 6 and 700 dollar range! (I could only think: "Wow, I'm collecting the wrong stuff!)
Finally, Sunday rolled around and after a wonderful brunch and a final series of goodbyes (and a group photo), Lynn and I took off filled with wonderful memories of the convention and, more importantly, of the wonderful people we had the pleasure of spending time and socializing with. I would be remiss without mentioning that both of us were overwhelmed by the across-the-board first class treatment we received. Who to thank? Where do you start?
Particular thanks go to Marge and Sy Epstein and Jim and Lisa Polczynski who were absolutely fantastic in making sure Lynn and I felt at home and we did! Special thanks also go to outgoing AGPC president David Beffa-Negrini and incoming president Joe Seymour for making us feel so welcome. Thanks, of course, to Emily and Travis Miller for opening their home to us (and many other convention attendees) to show off an impressive collection of Parker Brothers games. And, of course, it was a sincere pleasure talking and gaming with so many great people over the three days, including those of you who, like me, are members of both the AGPC and Gamers Alliance. (I would list you all but I'm afraid I would leave out a name and I don't want to offend anyone - but you know who you are!) A convention is only as good as the people involved. This convention was great!
So, once again, a personal and warm thank you to everyone at the AGPC for this prestigious honor and for hosting this memorable convention experience. - - - - - - - - - Herb Levy