My friend Geraint and I are walking in the business district of Las Vegas, New Mexico near The Plaza when a small cloud of dust and dirt flies out of a door way followed by the bottom of a broom. The man using the broom smiles, greets us, and invites us into his store. His name is Bob Korte and his family has been in business at this location for more than 75 years. They used to sell furniture and appliances. Today, Bob opens the place for about three hours a day when he feels like it. The furniture and appliances have been replaced by bicycle parts and an eclectic collection of things that interest Bob.
There are some baby buggies up front and an antique church organ in the back of the store that opens to the alley. Sitting on one wall is a miniature Maytag wringer washer. Along the side wall leading to the back steps are a series of display cases filled with model cars and other small items. Everything here has a purpose and a story. If you show some interest, Bob will make it worth your while.
I discover that the Maytag wringer washer isn’t a toy. Bob tells me it is a salesman’s sample that is fully functional. It had to be small enough for the salesman to put in his car and demonstrate to prospective buyers. It is an amazing piece of history. I ask Bob about the model cars and he informs me those were all the different cars he has owned…even the vintage Studebaker. He shares a wonderful story about his uncle who loved playing the accordion. The uncle, who was getting up in years, wasn’t satisfied with the accordion that he had or any of the ones that were available locally. He had his heart set on a special one made by the Hohner Company in Germany. His uncle asked Bob to do some research on the instrument. It turns out that they only make a dozen or so each year, they didn’t usually send any to the U.S., the cost was $15,000, and the money would have to be paid up front because it was a custom made item. None of that dissuaded the uncle, who gave Bob the money and let him handle the transaction. The instrument arrived after several months and the uncle was overjoyed. It was all he had hoped for. Bob talked with him a few weeks later and asked about the accordion. His uncle said, “I gave it to a friend who is a really good musician. It was too heavy for me.”
People like Bob make my life richer.