His laptop was silent.
His digital scale read zero.
This hour was slow. A few customers were coming through the doors of the Bee County Expo Center that morning, but only handful had arrived that afternoon.
He has been there all week buying gold, silver, coins and just about anything of value for THR & Associates.
Having been in town since Monday, Woods has been buying what he could, including two guitars. But he hasn’t made that big score he always looks forward to making.
Through the years, he has seen a few rare items.
In one town, a woman brought in a signed drawing of Dr. Seuss she had bought at a garage sale for a dollar.
Turns out it was a pretty good investment as Woods would ultimately pay her about $16,000 for this early signed drawing.
“You never know what is coming in each town,” he said. “It just depends on what they bring in and what they want to sell.”
Phyllis Borroum walked through the doors carrying a white box, about six inches by four inches, filled with small plastic bags.
Each bag contained a single coin.
There were tax coins, a few trade coins and a multitude of foreign coins.
“This one is from 1728,” she says as she passes the first to Woods.
She was mostly just curious about the value of her late husband’s collection.
“I have no idea what he had in there,” she said. “It has always just been in there.”
Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything Woods was interested in.
But that didn’t bother Borroum. She seemed just as happy to tell stories about her late husband, Mark “Jingles” McNeal, as to sell the coins.
“He died in ’93, having served two terms in Vietnam,” she said.
The likely cause of his death was exposure to Agent Orange, she said.
As a Green Beret, he earned Silver and Bronze Stars along with a Purple Heart.
The Purple Heart came when he was hit with shrapnel while a passenger in a helicopter.
“The pilot was dead, and the copilot was unresponsive,” she said.
“So he flew it back to base.
“They wanted to court-martial him for flying a helicopter he wasn’t authorized to fly.”
Borroum said her husband never had his stripes or stars sewn on his uniform. He simple Velcroed them on for just such an occasion.
He ripped off the appropriate rank and tossed it onto the commanding officer’s desk.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.