EDITION," COA'S TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY
by Jean Roe, COA Secretary
A little glitter and a lot of memories -- What
better way to celebrate an anniversary?!
Anne Joffe and the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club
had promised a special celebration for the twenty-fifth anniversary
of COA and they certainly delivered. From the tiny silver "sprinkles"
tucked into the registration forms to the elegant black and
silver chair covers and exquisite table decorations at the banquet,
the "Silver Edition" was special.
A record number of attendees enjoyed the facilities
of the beautiful South Seas Plantation in its tropical setting
on Captiva Island, FL. Many first-timers, as well as veterans
like Herb Young, who was attending his twenty-third COA Convention,
met new friends, talked shells, laughed, learned, and carried
away memories of the five days between July 13 and 18.
The fun started with early registration on Saturday,
July 12, when canvas totes with Sue Stephens' beautiful design
incorporating the COA logo and the Junonia of the Sanibel-Captiva
Shell Club were handed out. Inside were lots of "goodies,"
including shells, Christmas cards and word games. Pre-convention
field trips started this afternoon also, with groups heading
out to Pine Island Sound.
Although the opening ceremonies would not take
place until after lunch, Sunday morning found the convention
hall buzzing with activity as new arrivals stopped to buy a
convention tee shirt from Pat Burke or raffle tickets from Ben
and Josy Weiner or maybe just to peruse the Silent Auction or
the Walter Sage fabric. Convention photographer Georgette Laforet
recorded it all.
Registration Chairmen Howard and Susan Roux
seemed to be everywhere, handing out totes, answering phones,
gluing errant magnets back onto name tags. From her vantage
point at the desk Susan was also keeping track of the UPS trucks
delivering "Beanie Babies" to the store across the
street and alerting eager collectors. . .even some of the dealers
have fallen under the spell of the cute and cuddly "Beanies."
Mixing with the many Floridians who were close
to home were others from far away: Tom Rice, Trevor Roberts,
and the Youngs from Washington; from Italy the Angioys and Bruno
Briano; the Coltro brothers from Brazil; a large group of Texans;
several Australians; Brian Hayes and family from South Africa;
and on and on. We are truly becoming an international group!
Opening ceremonies included a welcome from Anne
Joffe, acknowledgment of shell club reps, greetings from COA
President Dave Green, and an invitation to an open house at
Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum from its scientific director, Dr.
José Leal. José also was our first speaker and
showed us slides of the museum's progress.
Cesar Rodriguez told us about successfully raising
clams at nearby Charlotte Harbor. He was followed by Rich Goldberg,
who took us in search of land snails in the Spice Islands. Betty
Jean Piech left us laughing at her cute brand of humor as she
shared her memories of thirty-seven years of shelling.
The Welcome Party Sunday evening under the direction
of Biddy Dean and Georgette Laforet seems to have solved the
problem of making sure there is enough food for everyone. It
was great! Afterwards, Rosalie Taylor had arranged a Conch-L
get-together, so the Conch-L crew could get to know one another
in person. We each received a tiny sticker for our name tag
with a pink conch and "L" on it. A clever idea.
Monday morning started with club sales, more
Silent Auction, and sales of the Walter Sage fabric. After door
prizes from Dot Whitehouse, her husband Jim got things underway
as master of ceremonies. Tom Watters told of "America's
Most Imperiled Fauna," freshwater mussels, and we learned
there isn't much we can now do to prevent some of them from
extinction. Doug Jones of the Florida State Museum taught us
how he predicts the age of shells from growth rings and that
it is possible to predict at what season of the year shell material
During Open House at the Bailey-Matthews Shell
Museum we toured the Great Hall of Shells, explored the library
and storage facilities, asked questions, viewed the computer
program Ross Gunderson is working on, and enjoyed snacks. It
is a good feeling to know we have contributed to the development
of this exciting place with our contribution of funds for the
Back to the convention center for afternoon
programs. Harry Lee gave us a look at the fascinating dove shells
of the Western Atlantic, some of them unnamed. Dr. Jerry Harasewych
took us to view Pleurotomariidae via submarine; and Brian Hayes
brought us more of his excellent photography of living shells,
this time of deep water mollusks of South Africa.
After a hot sticky day it was inevitable that
raindrops would start to fall just as the Lady Chadwick was
departing for Cabbage Key. Most of us managed to keep dry under
cover, but Ken Trauernicht and kids just stood in the stern
and enjoyed the rain. Once at Cabbage Key, former home of author
Mary Roberts Rinehart, we were served the traditional "cheeseburger
in paradise", made famous by the Jimmy Buffet song of the
same name. Many of us left behind a dollar bill with a message,
taped to the wall so others will know COA was there.
During Tuesday morning announcements, Ted Metzger
was named the winner of the shell count for his guess of 752
olives in the jar.
The Annual Meeting began with a special ceremony
as President Dave Green presented plaques honoring the service
of past presidents. Happily, many of them were present: Tom
Rice (1974-75), Dick Forbush (1983-5), Anne Joffe (1985-86),
Rich Goldberg (1986-87), Don Young (1987-88), Alan Gettleman
(1988- 89), Peggy Williams (1989-90), Hank Foglino (1990-91),
Glen Deuel (1991-92), Doris Underwood (1992-94). Linda Koestel
(1994- 96), and Dave Green (1996-97). A good looking bunch!
Sadly, 1980-81 president Wayne Stevens passed away just before
the convention. He will be missed.
Dave then presented each of the current COA
Board members with a plaque of appreciation. A special plaque
was presented to Lynn Scheu in honor of "Ten Years of Excellence
as Editor of American Conchologist."
To begin the business portion of the meeting,
minutes of the 1996 Annual Meeting were approved as printed
in the welcome packets. COA Treasurer Bobbie Houchin read the
1996 Summary Treasurer's Report. Educational Grants Director
Dr. Gary Rosenberg read the list of 1997 COA Educational Grants
recipients. Guido Pastorino of Washington, DC is the 1997 recipient
of the Walter Sage Award. He will conduct a study of Antarctic
Larry Stiles made the report of the nominating
committee composed of Eleanor Hillman, Glen Deuel, and himself.
The slate was approved by acclamation. Your new officers are:
Vice President: Linda Brunner
Secretary: Jean Roe
Treasurer: Bobbie Houchin
Trustee: Rosalie Taylor
Linda Koestel presented a slide show on the
1998 convention "Discover the Magic" at Walt Disney
World in Orlando, July 19-23. She's working to get Mickey to
At the close of the Annual Meeting, Linda Sunderland
stepped up to present Lynn Scheu with a special "memory
book" of her ten years as editor. Happy tears all around
for a well-deserved tribute.
A "different" type of auction awaited
us on our return from lunch. It was "different" in
that items were not auctioned in sequence, so bidders had to
stay awake and on their toes. Auctioneers Dick Petit and Hank
Chaney played their audience along and garnered an amazing $8,142!
The night dive trip departed while the rest
of us hurried to get dinner in time to attend the symposium
on techniques and products for shell collectors. Here we learned
the importance of proper storage, the difference between "good"
and "bad" foam, and that polyfil is better than cotton.
Many other tips were given by panelists Dr. Hank Chaney, Dr.
José Leal and Alice Monroe. We later learned the divers
had had a few problems with the boat, weather and seasickness.
But shellers are a hardy bunch. They came dragging in at 6 AM.
Of course none of them were at the Club Reps breakfast. Too
bad. It was a very productive meeting with lots of good ideas
A few changes were needed in the program line-up
on Wednesday morning due to misfortunes of some of the presenters.
Kermit and Gloria Pearson gave a very interesting talk on live
shells of Kwajalein in place of Ross Mayhew, who was delayed
in Canada. Peggy Williams took us shelling in Baja and then
Emilio Garcia filled in for Emily Vokes, who had cancelled when
Harold broke his hip. We wish them well. Hank Chaney told of
dredging in the Pacific. A good morning of programs in spite
of the changes.
At 3:00 PM the doors of the Bourse opened with
the usual frenzy -- 105 tables of shells, books, and shell-related
items greeted eager shoppers. Next morning found last minute
shopping going on until noon. Afternoon programs by Hank Foglino
and Alice Monroe each dealt with seashell shape and sculpture
and served to complement one another. Gertrude Moller's cartoons
on "Molluscan Humor" had everyone smiling, a great
wrap-up of programs.
The banquet provided the perfect setting for
an anniversary celebration. Black and silver balloons floated
along the wall, while tiny lights twinkled in the plants and
in the lovely centerpieces, designed by Goz Gosselin and created
by Anne and her team.
After an excellent dinner, Rusty Brown recited
passages from Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea. She
almost became Anne as she took us back in time to the days when
Anne walked on Captiva and collected shells. It was a beautiful
and memorable evening, a fitting finale to this special anniversary