Back in the early 70’s I was going to school at George Washington Univ. in Washington DC. I had accepted a summer job, between semesters, with a friend who was building a ski chalet, in Seven Springs Pa., for him and his business partners to use in the winter. There was little to do on the weekends, when we weren’t working, except to go to local farm auctions and antique sales. My friend was the type of person who would buy anything he thought he could make a profit on by hauling it down to his home in Baltimore. Brass beds were his passion. They soon became mine. I found that I could buy an old brass bed in the Pittsburgh area…….bring it down to Washington DC and sell it to kids I went to school with, for considerably more than I paid for it. I soon found myself asking every Tom Dick and Harry up in Pennsylvania, if they possibly knew of anyone that might have a stash of brass beds they might want to sell. Seems everyone had some knowledge of a local junk dealer or some old hermit that had been hording things all his life. The trick was to track them down and see what treasures they were setting on. It was one of these tenuous leads that brought me to the door of an old Victorian home, that set under the trestles of an archaic railway bridge and on the banks of the Monongahela River. I had heard stories of the old man that lived here with is girlfriend, Mary, of 50 some years. She had red that would have rivaled “Lucy’s”, and continuous smile that was infectious. Boyd was…….well Boyd. I’ve never met anyone like him. He was a real original. When I first met him he was in his mid 80’s. He only had 3 or 4 teeth in his mouth and walked with a limp. His daily garb was bedroom slipper’s, pajama bottoms, and a white T shirt that had turned the corner along time ago. To make himself more presentable when he went out in public, he wore a long trench coat. Describing him to someone as looking like a potential “flasher”, would have been dead on. At our first meeting I was invited into their large country kitchen and asked how big a piece of apple pie I wanted and if I wanted cream in my coffee. Not if I wanted coffee or if I wanted apple pie. This, I would soon learn, was the social protocol that had to take place before any business took place. It gave both parties an opportunity to see if they were compatible, before they got down to business. Well after two pieces of pie and three cups of coffee, I’d nearly forgotten what I was doing in their kitchen. Boyd wanted to know everything about me………where I lived , was I going to school, did i love my parents etc. etc. Mary just sat at the table smiling and refilling my coffee cup whenever it got below half full. After about an hour Boyd said ” so what is it you’re looking for?” “Do you have any iron beds or brass beds?” He had one, which I bought, and asked me if I was interested in getting any more. I said I was and he said the next time I came up he’d have a couple more for me. A couple weeks later I returned and followed Boyd out to the barn/warehouse he kept all his antiques in. While I was looking over the iron beds he’d accumulated and asking Boyd questions about them, Mary came into the barn and told Boyd that someone was waiting for him out front. She mentioned who it was and Boyd, very politely said”tell him I’m with somebody and I’ll be with him in a while.” I lost track of time and finally reminded Boyd that he had someone waiting for him. “You were here first…..he can wait” he said. I told Boyd how much I appreciated him spending time with me and answering my questions about everything under the sun. Boyd was an enormous “hard drive” of information, when it came to antiques, and I got the distinct impression his appearance kept people at bay. Boyd had forgotten more about antiques than I would ever learn. We would sit at that big round oak claw foot table in the big old country kitchen for hours on end talking about brass beds, roll top desks and all the crazy characters Boyd had come across over the years. After we finalized my purchase of the two brass beds and iron bed he gotten for me, we walked out front. There in front of the barn was one of the biggest tractor trailer rigs I’d ever seen. It was immaculate with beautiful scrolled gold lettering on the side, of an antique store in Florida. It was cold out and the motor was running. The driver saw us exit the barn and he crawled down from the cab. He greeted Boyd with a big smile and thanked him for agreeing to see him on such short notice. Boyd said “this mans from DC and I need to spend some time with him…….you can go ahead and start loading.” Boyd walked me back inside the house and we sat down at the kitchen table again. “I don’t want to take you away from your business” I said. “Like I said….you were here first”. Mary heard him and gave me a big smile. That was close to 40 years ago and I still get a lump in my throat when I think about him and Mary. For the next ten years, I spent more time at Boyd and Marys that at my own place in DC. I’d make the drive up from DC after my Friday classes and stay at their house until Monday morning, when I’d crawl back in my van and haul all my treasures back to the dealers in DC. I had become a “picker”, long before it was chic or had a reality show about it. Boyd would get into the van with me and off we’d go. He knew every kook and cranny in the backwoods of Pennsylvania and W.Va and every reclusive junk dealer, antiquer, and collector there was. In the antique business…….you’re only as good as your contacts….and you guard them with your life. But Boyd opened up his life to me……..he held nothing back and for that and his love and kindness I will be eternally grateful. The memories and stories are too many to list here. After moving to sunny California back in 75′, I’d still make trips back to see Boyd and Mary every few months. They’re both gone now. I was fortunate to have gotten the time to tell them both how much they meant to me, before they passed away and for that I’m very happy. But a day doesn’t go by that I don’t look at this photo………. and thank the “big guy” upstairs for allowing me the time I got to spend with a very special person.