By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR July 18, 2006 When Barry Foster, owner of Hot Corner Sports Collectibles, Inc., rushed over to his sports memorabilia shop on Main Street in Livingston Manor on Wednesday, June 28 during the Flood of 2006, he found Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax and Joe DiMaggio floating in the rapidly rising water.
The expensive autographed rookie cards of the three baseball greats were among an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 collectors cards that he lost in the fourth major high-water disaster to strike this small riverside community in the last three years.
After the last flood, Foster figured that protecting his most valuable cards was a matter of feet, as he displayed them in glass showcases elevated about 3 feet off the floor.
But nature outwitted Foster by 4 inches, as the water reached 40 inches before starting to fall, leaving him with an estimated $100,000 in water- logged baseball, football and basketball cards, along with piles of ruined sports-related memorabilia.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would get over 3 feet, but those extra 4 inches did it, said Foster the day after the flood.
In the hours after the flood, he tossed out thousands of items, things he had started collecting as a kid growing up in Manor.
What I saved are the memories that I love, Foster said. A lot of people dont understand sports memorabilia, so they dont understand what I lost.
Foster paused for a moment to remember Jamie Bertholf, the 15-year-old Livingston Manor girl who was swept away to her death in the flood.
I would give you all this stuff if it could bring Jamie back, he said. I knew her all my life, and she was a very sweet young lady who used to stop in here and say hello all the time
her parents are very hard working people.
Stepping up to the plate to offer suggestions on what can be done to prevent significant flood events from continuing to wreck his town, Foster said, I dont care what anybody says, dredging helps
in 1953, when I was a kid, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers probably went down 5 or 6 feet, and what a difference.
Im not one of those guys who wants to hear about the environment and fishermen anymore, we really need to save the people, he said
He added that for two days after the flood, all we did was toss stuff and take it to the dump. In addition, three local kids pulled up the carpet and scraped glue off the floor of Hot Corner Sports Collectibles.
Foster said that in the wake of the flood, he was taking things day by day and trying to make up his mind whether to stay open or close up shop.
On a recent afternoon, he decided to stick it out through the summer, and then reassess things in the fall.
I want to stay here and try, Foster said.