Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 7, 1977 · Page 13
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 13

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Monday, February 7, 1977
Page 13
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Color ful Art of Auctioneering Growing in Popularity By DAVE LEHERR Post-Gazette stiff Wrlttr Watta watta watta watta, waaaaaaaa ha wa la ree nee nee nee, soooooooooold American. Hype it up to 700 words a minute, put it to a tune like "Yankee Doodle" and you just may find yourself with all the makings for one of the world's oldest and most intriguing professionsauctioneering. Because whether he's selling M million worth of furniture and decorations from one of the estates of Baron and Baroness Guy de Rothschild or pushing home baked pies at a county fair, the auctioneer is a man of mystique, rhythm, entertainment, humor and compassion. He's a performer, but a performer with a mission and a responsibility. And at least relatively speaking, the lure of the profession apparently is beginning to spread more and more to young people. Not that there's anything new about auctions or auctioneers. Some old timers in the profession will say the entire Roman Empire was once sold at auction. And that as early as 500 B.C., women in Babylon were auctioned off for marriage. And in China, auction sales were used to raise money for Buddhist temples and monasteries. Now, there is no such thing as a typical auction. Stamps, paintings, coins, jewelry, heavy equipment and machinery, furniture, antiques, whole houses and estates, bicycles and violins, cars and yachts, livestock - you name it, it's probably been part of some auction block or another. And with the increasing pressures and needs for good auctioneers has come increased responsibilities that have led to a number of significant developments over the years. For example, there now are at least five professional schools of auctioneering in this country, including the Pennsylvania School of Auctioneering in Shiremanstown near Harrisburg. And just as recently as 1972, the state Board of Auctioneer Examiners was added to its 21 other special boards of licensure in the Department of Labor and Industry. Joseph Coccia, 54, a professional auctioneer since he was 20, is the founder and president of the Pennsylvania School of Auctioneering. It opened its doors in 1962, but really began gaining momentum in 1972 with the establishment of the Pennsylvania auctioneers' licensing code. Coccia talks about his school and his profession with the same reverance that he treats the $20,000, $30,000 and $40,000 gems that have become his specialty as an auctioneer. "Speed, rhythm and concentration, those are the three major attributes an auctioneer needs and that's what we try to teach over our 10-day, 80-hour program," he says. The speed and rhythm of the auctioneer are what hold most observers spellbound. And there is no better example than the tobacco auctioneer who, according to Coccia, fits into a category all his own. "They more than anybody else have to keep it moving," explains Coccia. "Tobacco farmers have to sell their leaves as crisp as they can without any moisture. And they can only sell them at one particular part of the day when the sun is shining." That's where the "watta watta watta watta, waaaaaaa ha wa la ree nee neee nee" comes in. Tobacco auctioneers deal in code phrases to keep up the rhythm and speed. Tobacco is sold at a per pound per hundred pound price. And the auctioneer tries to eke out quarter, 50 cent and 75 cent prices. The watta, watta or quala is for the quarter, the ha, ha, or haula represents 50 cents and the ree or reenee is 75 cents. "Speed Riggs holds the world's record with 700 words a minute," said Coccia. "You've heard of him. He's the guy that used to do the old Lucky Strike commercials." But even though the average auctioneer may not reach 700 words a minute, speed is still a key ingredient in his training. And that's why instructors at the Pennsylvania School of Auctioneers concentrate on such things as public speaking, tongue twisters breathing with a cork in your mouth, Gregorian chant voice development, and talking while electronic speakers play back your own voice in lapsed time. "We train students to take their voices and go up into the mountains, and then down into the valleys, then to stay in the valleys for awhile, then to go back up into the mountains like an alternating current up and down," says Coccia. "It's rhythm that holds the crowd. They like the melodious chanting. It's pleasing. And it's also the wav the auctioneer keeps organized and on top of a sale." Tongue twister exercises may start with two-minute drills, but by the time the course is almost finished, students are spouting them off for half an hour straight. Students learn, for example, how to use a clock to keep track of bids and bidders, turning the hour hand to the bid number (3 o'clock for $3,000, for example) and the minute hand to the location of the last bidder. "There's nothing more embarrassing than an auctioneer forgetting the last bid or where his last bidder is," says Coccia. They learn how to advertise, to understand the various laws that govern auctions, and to make appraisals and accurate evaluations of the items they are hired to sell. They learn how to assess land in case they become involved in real estate auctions. They learn lessons in anatomy and how to determine pedigrees in case they make livestock their auctioneering specialty. Tuition for the 80-hour course is $300. The school offers two courses a year one in February, the other in August. Average classes are 10 to 15 members. Coccia figures he's had about 200 graduates since the school began. One has since become the top horse auctioneer in Canada. Another is Jack Allander, one of this country's top stamp auctioneers. Students range in age from 16 and 17 to 65 and come from all over the country. A growing number of women are joining the ranks. Auctioneering can be a financially and aesthetically rewarding profession. Joseph Coccia knows. He's made a lifetime out of it. And now three of his six children, including his teen-age daughter, Lisa, are into auctioneering or getting ready to join the fold. For a good auctioneer, $50,000 or $60,000 a year is not impossible. For some, even more. But it is also a profession that requires compassion. "That rocking chair may be a piece of junk but for the woman who is selling it, it is invaluable and that's what the auctioneer has to remember," says Coccia. "The auctioneer performs a human service. He often finds himself selling a person's cherished posession and while he is trying to get the highest price, he also must deal with compassion. "The auctioneer is the advocate between buyer and seller. He obviously deals in showmanship and is an entertainer. But he cannot become a clown. What he does is adapt to the various different conditions associated with mob psychology." on the scene SECOND SECTION MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 1977 Ski Novices Enjoy Hidden Valley Trail . By BOHDAN HODIAK Post-Gaiett Staff Writer If you've only had a few lessons in skiing but want to feel like a veteran go to Hidden Valley in the Laurel Highlands. While many ski resorts shunt their beginners to a corner of a little hill giving them a rope tow or a poma lift Hidden Valley gives you a mountain and a chair lift. Take the chair lift to the top and turn left for the Continental Trail. If you can snow plow and turn you won't have any problem and you'll cover more than two-thirds of a mile in your descent. Hidden Valley, of course, has trails for more advanced skiers and is a favorite starting point for cross-country skiers who have the choice of 25 miles of trails. Located 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, Hidden Valley has a vertical drop of 400 feet on a bowl-shaped mountain. There are nine trails, two double chair lifts, four poma lifts and a rope tow. It is a family oriented resort where overnight guests can stay at a 50-room inn, eat home-cooked meals, and listen to a folk singer on Friday and Saturday nights. There is space for 128 overnight guests and the skiing area can handle 1,800. It takes about 90 minutes of driv ing to get to Hidden Valley from Downtown Pittsburgh. You get off at Donegal Exit 9 on the Turnpike and go east ' on Route 31 for eight miles. Skiing hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with lift tickets $6.50 weekdays and $8.50 weekends. A complete ski rental is $7; group lessons are $6.50. There is night skiing, a nursery, and cross-country tours on weekends. Management claims that the lift lines on weekends rarely are more than 12 minutes long. During my visit I found a great many moguls on the steeper trails. George Parke, owner of the resort, said a lot of skiers like it that way. This series will conclude next week with the Laurel Mountain ski area but meanwhile here is( a brief listing of a few more skiing' areas in Western Pennsylvania: Wildwood Highlands-On Wildwood Road at the eastern border of North Park. It has one chair lift and one poma lift with a vertical drop of 294 feet. Peek'Mountain Near Youngsville in Warren County, a 2V2 hour drive north of Pittsburgh. It has a vertical drop of 579 feet, daytime skiing only on weekends. Phone 814 563-9210. In the Laurel Highlands there is Sugarbush Mountain, three miles east of Youngstown on the road to Darling- :fj! Wj " fr v rib r AJj$JL - A 41 cjr .-. A' - ; . Pot-Giette Photo by PAUL SLANTtS Double-chair lifts tthii-k skiers to top of xhpes at Hidden Valley in Laurel Highlands. Cross-country skiing also is featured. ton-. Open on weekends, night skiing Tuesday through Saturday. While the vertical drop is only 100 feet the lift ticket is only $2. Phone: 238-9655. Also, Haseltine Hills (formerly White Mountain) three miles east of Indian Head and 10 miles southeast of Donegal. Camp Soles Two miles south of Trent, a mile north of Route 653, New Lexington. Open on weekends; vertical drop 351 feet. Music Makers By Mike Kalina Go-Co to Disco Go-go is officially dead at the club that pioneered the movement in this area. And the owners of the Spotlite Lounge last week paid homage to the thousands of go-go girls who shook themselves into frenzies through the years at the night spot at 3887 Bigelow Blvd., near the Park Schenley. Owner John Zarra retired a go-go costume at a last-rites ceremony at the club recently and buried it in an aspirin tin in the basement of the lounge. "It's the world's smallest time capsule," Zarra said. The club has gone disco and has been extensively revamped. It has emerged as The Electric Banana. The newest disco in the area features a tasteful decor and a fine sound system that club sound engineer Bernard Rosati said will be improved greatly in a few weeks. "The equipment is going to be beefed up considerably," he said. "It's going to be the best sound system in the area." Zarra said that before he decided to undertake the disco project he not only scouted the various discos in this area but also those in various cities throughout the East. His impressions of the discos and his own ideas and those of various associates were distilled into a master plan for his own dancing spot. HE SAID that his promotion of The Electric Banana is going to be low key all the way: "As soon as the weather breaks, we're going to have a hang-glider expert jump off the top of the U.S. Steel Building in a glider in the shape of a banana with the disco's name emblazoned on it. We're afraid to have him make the jump now with these high winds he might end up in Nairobi." He said he also plans to hold dance contests at the disco and has a bagful of other events on tap in addition to Polynesian drinks, which are going to be the house specialty The front room of the former Spot-. lite Lounge has been converted into an intimate cocktail area and the disco itself is housed in what was a mammoth storage area at the back of the club Not only was the Spotlite the first club in the area to hire a go-go girl (back in the early 1960s) but also was the first to hire a male go-go dancer "We started the male go-go move ment in the late '60s," said Zarra. "The first guy we hired was a dancer who went by the name of Goldfinger. He used to paint himself with gold paint as part of his act." ZARRA SAID he feels that the go-go movement has seen its better days and is convinced the disco movement is not just a craze. "I took a very serious look at the disco phenomenon," he said. "At first I thought that it might be just a fad. But I think that it's going to remain an American institution for quite some time. "I certainly wouldn't have undertaken this investment if I thought discos would be dead in a year or so. I think they're here to stay." If he's wrong, perhaps he can dig up the aspirin tin and have one of the disco waitresses try it on for sighs. Super Handyman By Al Carrell Blow-Up I'm a firm believer that regular routine maintenance according to the owner's manual will give your car longer life. But many of us aren't mental giants and don't remember to take care of everything at the proper time. A friend showed me his solution. He took the owner's manual into a photo place that does those cheap giant blowups and had the page enlarged. He then made a frame to size and mounted the blowup on the garage wall right in front of where the car is parked. Each time he drives in, he can see what's to be done at what mileage intervals. As he does or has the funtion done, he uses colored pencils to mark it off. When he buys a new car (which will be several years because of his car care), he'll put up a new one. There are probably other good ways to remind and keep track of this, but this one really works. If I could remember to take my owner's manual, I'd use this one. Dear Al: Here is a winter use for a rotating lawn sprinkler like I have with three arms. But cutting a corrugated box to fit over the top of the sprinkler, but to not quite touch the surface below, you now have a rotating paint table for spraying small items. The table turns so you don't have to move around or touch wet paint. Dear Al: We had to leave the car outside the garage because my husband kept his small fishing boat inside Our son came to visit, and I complained. He solved our problem by rigging straps up to the garage wall. The straps ran through pulleys and could be fastened through buckles like a belt. We now store the boat flat- against the garage wall which lets us bring the car inside too. There must be many cars taking a beating because of some dumb boat, and maybe this idea will help. My son thought of several other possible ways to rig the straps. Another way might be to use slings and hoist the boat up so it is stored against the garage ceiling. what's happening "The Roar of the Grease Paint, the Smell of the Crowd," a play by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, will open Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh Studio Theater. Additional performances will be given at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Wednesday through Saturday next week and at 2 p.m. Saturday Raymond Chandler's only original screenplay, "The Blue Dahlia,' staring Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd will be shown at 8 and 10 i m Thursday at the Pittsburgh Vu Makers Screening Room, 205 Oakland Ave.. Oakland. Ice skating dances for adults will be held every Tuesday from 7.30 to 10-30 p.m. at the new Mt. Lebanon Skating Rink Private and group lessons are available. MM inleyville urmture DG4MAI1C flEIBIPLKVICT JftMJE Feature Savings From Our 2,1-Room "VRP" Gallery Versatile Room Plan lor your home or apartment. Pieces that stock, turn corners and fill wolls to use every bit ol space, as well as pieces lor conventional room groupings. Our Colonial "Maple Ridge" Collection has easy care mar prool laminate tops, sturdily constructed ol solid maple and finished in niello honey tone. Choose now the pieces for that room at "Dramatic February" savings. 'V R P" Custom Room Plan Grouping: Twin or Full Size Headboard 59.90 Two-Drawer Open Deck 94.90 30" Bachelor Chest 119.90 One-Drawer Corner Desk 1 19.90 40" 3-Drawer Open Deck 1 19.90 40" Dresser Base 149.90 40" Student Desk 149.90 Charge Your Purchase on Master Charge, BonkAmerkord or Revolving Charge plan L inleyville urmture Conventional Room Grouping: 50" Double Dresser Base 169.90 34x44" Framed Mirror 59.90 Six-Drawer Chest 199 90 TwinFull Cannonball Bed 169 90 3-Drawer Night Stand 94.90 Open Monday Thru Friday 10 to 9, Saturday to 5:30 Routo 88, Finleyville. 7 Miles South of South Park. Phone 563-3398 or 348-7123

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