The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


Then one day, suddenly, and without any warning the WILLIAM OSTFELDT store on Lake Street was closed down. Word spread like wildfire that there wads a notice on the front door that the entire contents of the store would be put up for public auction and that the store would be open so potential bidders could inspect the store's merchandise on a Thursday in early January of 1970.

I tried to get together a syndicate of buyers to attend the inspection. I contacted a number of comic collectors including Gene Kousek and Rich Hauser, who were the only ones that seemed to be interested in attending on that cold January. Only Gene Kousek showed We walked through the store, and it was clearly evident that there weren't a lot of old comics in the store. But there were over 1,000 pulps, and boxes of old movie posters, lobby cards and stills. And several boxes of Big-Little-Books, but there wasn't enough material to excite Gene Kousek. So it looked like I'd have to go it alone. I had recognized a number of book dealers there, and it was my thought that maybe I would approach one after the auction was over about buying the comics and Big-Little-Books. And it was with that in mind that I attended the court auction on Friday September 16th.

Now several people had told me that Mr. Ostfeldt knew that he was about to be closed down, and that he had been seen on a number of occasions carrying bags of stuff out of the store, including some of his best Golden Age comics. So I knew that the store had been "creamed out" before it was closed. This was not to deter me from my mission. So I attended that auction.

I had a couple of hundred dollars in my pocket to possibly consummate the deal right on the spot. I was very surprised when the court started the bidding at only $500. And no spoke up with an opening bid. I was aware of the fact that that only 110% of the money need to be present to the court at the close of the auction to finalize the bid, and I was covered there, so I opened the bidding. A gentleman in a suit upped it to $550, I went to $600--what the heck, I knew there was more than $600 in pulp magazines alone. I found out later that the only other bidder was a lawyer by the name of J.B. Ross, who was there to represent a client who was primarily interested in the pornography in the store. WhatPornography? I put a bid of $750 and was shocked into a new conciousness when THE BIDDING ENDED RIGHT THERE, and I found myself owner of the entire contents of the legendary WILLIAM OSTFELDT BOOK STORE!

To Be Continued......

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Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol3 3 #52 December 28, 2000 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.