Monday, May 19, 2008

Donning Red's hat while singing Tiny Bubbles

Now that we know who "Red" Burpo was and how his family was intending to part out the remnants of his worldly belongings, we can delve into the tale of how I came into possession of one of Red's hats.

This one in particular.

I know, pretty dramatic picture huh. We have some wonderful skies here in Okie land. but I digress.

What I really came to the auction to look at were Red's old cars. Naturally.

He had a 1956 Chevrolet BelAir 4-door that was pretty complete and a good candidate for restoration. It went for $800, which was about $300 more than I was willing to give for it, but considering all I was thinking of doing with it once I had it cruising, shifting, braking, and turning was slamming it to the ground with some air bags and giving it a nice coat of shiny, flat hot rod black primer, it's probably better and more respectful that it went to a bowtie fanatic that was going to use it for parts to restore his own '56 project.

There was a 1953 Chevrolet 4-door as well, but without a drive train, major rust in the quarters and trunk, and too-far-gone-to-restore interior, the little sedan brought a generous $125. Probably cost more in gas to haul it away.

Red's 1952 pickup (pictured in the auction flyer here) was a true runner and brought in $3,700, which was a steal considering it will probably be flipped and sold on eBay in a week or two for two to three grand more.

His '69 shop truck went for just over $1,200 (great buy), and his assorted tools, parts, shop equipment, and hardware all went for some bargain basement prices. True to Red's rep, his stuff was well worn, well used, and bore the scars of a lifetime of service to Red and his customers.

Surprisingly, the only items I ended up bidding on -- and winning, were several boxes of old Christmas decorations (a mandate from my wife to all the members of her auction attending family is to never pass up on boxes of vintage Christmas decorations -- one of her many collectible passions. Oh the stories I could tell you...), and this item...

It's a Korean made, brand new in the wrapper, Samick ukulele. Online eBay price, about $40.

Now ukulele purists would scoff at such an instrument, but to a person who spent the summer of his 10th year in Oahu, learning to play the uke under the loving tutelage of his long deceased Grandmother, and has been jonesing to pick it up again to teach to his own kids during the coming summer months, this little ukulele was solid gold.

And for the back-and-forth bidding price of $10, it came home with me.

Along with Red's hat, complete with cigarette burn on the front, and size 10 1/2 head bowl. Why the uke and the hat were oddly paired up together for bidding is a mysterious quirk of the auction spirits better left unquestioned. Even higher up in the query list for me is why Red had a ukulele in the first place.

Regardless, picture if you will, my efforts to tune the little uke (Pineapple Pete's Uke School website has come in handy), the sheer will it's going to take to relearn the chords and lyrics to some of Don Ho's greatest hits, and all the memories that will inevitably start flooding into my heart and head with each plink, plank, and plunk on this little treasure, all compliments of "Red" Burpo.

Who knows, maybe I'll even don his hat for an impromptu concert for the girls.

Tiny bubbles, in the wine...make me happy, make me feel fine.

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