26 Years Ago…
Backing up for a moment, I first became an FMS member in 1994, and in 1996 I decided to attend the TGMS Show to see the FMS’ 25th anniversary Fluorescent Mineral Display. I was a second semester senior in college at the time. My trip got off to a “rocky” start when my flight out of Allentown, PA was cancelled for no apparent reason, but I managed to catch a flight out of Philadelphia, 55 miles away, the next morning at 6 AM.
The flight to Tucson itself was without incident. But when I claimed my luggage and headed for the exit, two plain clothes Tucson police officers claimed me, asserting that their dog had detected drugs in my duffel bag. There was no dog is sight and I did not believe there was a dog. They “requested” my permission to search my duffel bag. After about 15 minutes of them rifling through my duffel bag, which contained a few flats of fluorescent specimens wrapped in newspaper, I was on my way. I thought about saying, “Guess it is time to get a new dog,” but I stifled after they rifled, not wanting any further delay. To this day, I believe, I was profiled as a young male in my 20’s, traveling alone, as my flight was ticketed less than 24 hours before takeoff due to the Allentown cancellation.
What a difference 26 years makes
This year was my wife, Charlotte’s third trip to Tucson (on one trip, incredibly, she managed to score an engagement ring) and our 8-year-old daughter’s first. I found a little irony in that Charlotte had to go through extra TSA security screening and I didn’t, despite carrying 2 laptops, a UV lamp with battery packs, a HD video camera, audio equipment, and various audio and video cables (more on this later). I guess I’m not “a young male in his 20s, traveling alone” anymore.
This was not my first trip to Tucson in 26 years, but it was my first timed to coincide with the 4-day TGMS Show and therefore the FMS Annual Meeting. My usual early arrival was in my role as a member of Team Greenland, determined to beat Glenn Waychunas to the best specimens.
In 1996 the FMS annual meeting location was the pool/patio area at the [Best Western] Executive Inn. This hotel had hosted many great mineral dealers through the years, but like the old Desert Inn in the 1990’s, the Executive Inn came into disrepair in recent years and it was demolished last year.
The newest and arguably the biggest grouping of mineral dealers is just up the road at the newer and evolving venue called “Mineral City.” It is a series of an indoor “storage locker” style buildings rather than the more traditional hotel room style show. Of course the storage locker is rented for the entire year, while the hotel show room is rented for three weeks, most dealers live in the room, and must remove the remaining specimens after the show. This is the big advantage of the storage locker style show.
Thankfully, many years ago the FMS found another location for the annual meeting, the Church of the Painted Hills, a few miles west of downtown Tucson.
2022 FMS Annual Meeting
Even with the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic, Don Newsome volunteered to plan, coordinate, and run the FMS Annual meeting for 2022. He’s been a popular host of many meetings in the past. Don arranged with the Church of the Painted Hills to rent the Sanctuary for Thursday night, February 10th. He planned the meeting schedule (along with Conrad North’s help), which was circulated to membership by Pat Hintz, the FMS secretary. Given the special anniversary, and then the emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19, planning was difficult. Nevertheless, Don estimated well, planning for about 80 attendees, about 20 more than the usual crowd. Don arranged for the purchase of 10 large pizzas (80 slices), two-liter bottles of soda, and more than 200 cookies to feed those willing to contribute $5 for food. Paying attendees were limited to one slice of pizza, one glass of soda, and three cookies. After everyone had firsts, seconds and thirds were allowed. When it was all said, done, and eaten, there was no pizza left, and only about 3⁄4 of a bottle of soda and just a few cookies were left over.
There were active table sales on both sides of the hall during the latter half of the meeting, and several dealers with an interest in fluorescent minerals, who are not members attended the meeting. The meeting is always open to the public with an interest in Fluorescent Minerals.
The meeting closed with the traditional live auction. Dick Bostwick was the auctioneer. The auction included a variety of items this year including a SW UV flashlight, a complete set of FMS journals, FMS merchandise, and a variety of fluorescent mineral specimens. The amount collected from the auction set another record of $1,725. It seemed everyone enjoyed the auction and all proceeds benefited the FMS. A SW LED flashlight worth about $135 went for $250. Sodalite specimens from Greenland, the Midwest and Canada inspired especially inspired bidding. Howie Green tried several mechanisms to sneak in bids, both directly through the ZOOM meeting and through enlisting a proxy bidder. We were not equipped for that, maybe next year. The meeting ended by close to 10pm and we all packed up and went to our hotels for a good night’s sleep.