Grayson Lee Smith started as an auctioneer 46 years ago, in July 1972. His first two auctions happened at nearly the same time, one between Tappahannock and Warsaw, while the other was in Newland. “Back then, people looked for auctions. They were entertaining. My mother loved auctions,” he said. “I would go with her, and I would stand back and listen to that auctioneer and the next thing you know my mouth was going and I told her, ‘I think I’d like to do that.’” Now, 46 years into his career, he is stopping, with his last auction held at the old Levi’s building in Warsaw, where they have been held for the last three years, on June 30.
He first went to auctioneering school, a two-week course, in 1971 in Nashville, Tennessee. “Progressive Farmer had an advertisement for auctioneer school three times a year. It cost fifteen dollars,” he said. “I sent my money in to say I was coming. I didn’t go in the spring. Summertime came and I didn’t go, and the last one was in November and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got to protect my fifteen dollars,’ so I drove seven-hundred some miles to Tennessee.”
“The first day, they asked us how many of us could count to ten,” he said. “We all said we could, and none of us could keep up with the instructor. During their schooling, an auction was also scheduled, during which each of the students would auction off an item. “We drew numbers to see who would go up when,” Grayson said. “When my turn came up, there was a man looking out a window of the house and woman out on the ground. I got a five-dollar bid from the ground and a ten-dollar bid from the window. Come to find out their last name was Smith and they were husband and wife.”
He finished the class and came back to the Northern Neck. “After the class I came out in the paper and said, ‘Hey, I’m an auctioneer!’ and then nobody called and nobody called,” he said.
For the full article pick up a copy of this weeks Northern Neck Newspaper 7/4/18