“I fell for her Windsor Chairs and she fell for my Samplers.”
Larry and Judy Kruppenbacher joined our bocce group last year. I watched as they came to the park where we were going to play and remember thinking Oh no, surely he is not considering joining our group, he looks like he can barely lift a bocce ball let alone throw it down the court.
As I am in charge of our bocce group and make the teams up weekly, I immediately put Larry and Judy on my opponent’s team. Well, I was so wrong. Larry not only could throw that ball down the court, he was darn good at it. Yes he was frail looking but I only found out why much later in the season.
Our bocce group lives for the happy hour we go to after we play. We often consider just going to happy hour and skipping the bocce altogether. One particular evening I found myself sitting next to Larry at a restaurant in Lake Oswego where we play. We were outside on the patio overlooking the lake. I asked Larry a question and it must have been a good one because he was off and running. I found myself ignoring everyone else there which never happens and just listening to Larry as his story was so fascinating.
Larry and Judy moved to Lake Oswego, OR from San Jose, CA in 2013. They moved to Mary’s Woods which is a continuing care retirement community. It’s Catholic but if you’re not Catholic they will still let you in. It’s a very popular place with several buildings consisting of apartments and also townhouses down by the river.
Larry and Judy moved to leave the ever-changing and chaotic Bay Area environment and escape the high cost of living. Boy, could I relate.
What fascinated me however was what Larry did at his new home to reinvent himself. Back in the “old days” Larry was an obsessive antique collector of early Americana and had his own business Cape Cod Country.
That background came in handy as Larry loved to peruse the shop at Mary’s Woods for the cast offs of his fellow residents. With his discerning eye he could spot something of value and he would snap it up for next to nothing. His first “find” were two sterling silver baby cups for $7. He took them immediately to an antique shop in Sellwood, OR and sold them for $75. Feeling very proud of himself, his next coup was a pair of sterling candlesticks for $6. Off again he went to Sellwood and sold them for $85. As he was bragging about the money he made to his wife Judy, she told him he was taking advantage of the Mary’s Woods shop for his own personal gain and did he know that the proceeds from that shop benefited the Resident’s Fund for those who needed help. Larry was immediately struck by a lightening bolt of Catholic guilt. Larry then donated his profits to the Residents Fund and a new career was born. He now culls the donated items for things he believes can bring more money if sold elsewhere. He has brought in and donated over $7000 to the Residents Fund. His reputation has grown and he is kept very busy valuing items for Mary’s Woods residents.
Larry has never really found “the big one” in terms of thousands of dollars profit, but has a couple of success stories to tell. He once bought an old cast iron eggbeater at a garage sale in San Jose for $10. Judy did her usual “what are we going to do with that” routine but changed her tune when he sold it for $750. He sold it to the eggbeater expert who had written two books on eggbeaters. Because he lived only an hour away, Larry and Judy got to see his 1200+ eggbeater collection.
Another find occurred in Oregon when Larry picked up a painting of Rooster Rock on the Gorge for $1. It was by Eliza Barchus a renowned Oregon painter of Mt. Hood and Gorge scenes. He had it restored and sold it for $800 at a local auction.
I asked Larry how he and Judy had met. This was his answer: ” I fell in love with her Windsor Chairs and she fell in love with my Samplers.” Larry has the driest wit of anyone I know and he is quick with a quip. Judy also is an antique collector and that is how they met. Judy had us all crying with laughter at one happy hour as she was picking on Larry and for once Larry had nothing to come back with. I am so happy to know the two of them.
Many happy hours and laughs later, I found out why Larry is so frail looking. He has Parkinson’s disease. This only slows him down a bit. There is another man in our bocce league with Parkinson’s. Both are good bocce players and you can tell both are former athletes. Both have great senses of humor and in a competition I would be happy to have either on my team.
.Our dog Larry. Yes, named after that Larry.