Bid high, one day at a time
All the money in the world won’t win the prize unless yours is the final bid before the gavel falls. Auctions are funny like that.
Grant Ledall is a native of Eaton, Colo. In fact, both his parents before him were. Most of their children and grandchildren went to school there. Few have strayed farther than a few miles from the area. So it’s not surprising that some of those little kids began learning their parents’ trades early on.
Charles Ledall, Grant’s father, raised feedlot cattle that he’d buy in the fall and over-winter feed on his 160-acre farm near Owl Creek, three miles east of Eaton. At the tender age of 5, little Grant helped load up silage to feed from the back of the truck as his dad drove through the snowy fields. Life was busy but good.
Then a major hail storm and flood struck the Eaton area in 1965. Ledall recalled the horrors of turbulent waters rising in that previously calm, narrow stream.
“Now you can just step across it. During the storm it was almost a half-mile wide,” he recounted.
Ledall compared that ugly weather phenomenon to the notorious 2008 Windsor tornado. He wasn’t aware of that deadly twister until well-after it tore through the town.
“We didn’t have even a light wind,” he marveled because he then lived just five miles away from the cyclone’s epicenter.
Before the Eaton deluge, the Ledall corn had been doing great at close to 4-feet tall. Almost instantly it was all gone.
Following the tempest, financial matters grew more and more dire until the Ledall family lost their farm in winter 1966. Then 7 years old, Grant started working on his uncle’s farm, continuing an informal yet intense education about the many aspects of running a farm/ranch operation.
His farm gone, Ledall’s father worked at Greeley Producers Livestock Auction’s sale barn. Young Grant loved hanging out there, especially proud to run gates in the yards to help his dad on sale days.
Once each auction began, however, all youngsters were banned from the saleyards to insure their safety. That’s when Ledall trotted up into the stands to switch from eager helper to keen observer. He was especially captivated by the auctioneer’s chant, determining that he’d love to learn how to do that someday.
By age 11, he was still so enamored of the whole wonderful sound and scene that he self-taught himself the trade by mimicking that magical man up on the block. Even now, he remembers driving up and down corn rows practicing the unique yodeling chant. (Probably loud as a pre-teen garage band but likely far more on key!)
After high school, 18-year-old Ledall wasted no time. He graduated from farm fields to attend the Kansas City Missouri Auction School, where he earned a degree. Thus becoming a “Colonel,” the title held by all auctioneers, he officially went back to work at Greeley Producers.
After a couple of years, Ledall added a real estate license to his certifications to conduct estate sales. And, as time usually does, it marched on as Ledall raised children. During 10 of those years, he took an extended furlough from the auction block to work for his wife’s family.
But auctioneering’s siren song was too seductive to resist. A return to his lifelong calling led back to Greeley Producers, with other stints before and after with Kreps & Wiedeman Auction, Ray Larson Real Estate, and eight years at Pacific Auction in Longmont.
For the past 11 years, Ledall has plied his trade through his own company, GCL Auctions. Its primary focus is on estate and storage sales, the latter of which frequently produce eye-popping stories.
Ledall recalled selling one uncomely storage unit for a mere $25. The rest of the crowd had showed no interest but surely would now because the astute (or just plain lucky) buyer found 50-60 Morgan silver dollars from 1902-1920 amongst the otherwise bland contents. High value? Oh yes: $5,000-$6,000. A super-sweet return on a $25 bet.
The prolific auctioneer shared the rest of the story about another low-selling unit.
“A gal paid just $125 for it and found a McKafee Computer System, brand new in the box. It retails for $54,000.”
Okay, but did she resell it for that amount? No. McKafee wouldn’t operate the system if she sold it because they couldn’t verify how it had parted company with its original owner. There was no way to determine if theft was involved.
However… the storage unit buyer sold the computer’s 24K gold connectors for more than $5,000.
Ledall sold six units for the estate of a 99-year-old gentleman whose kids wanted nothing to do with the stuff. Big mistake. One units’ buyer found an autographed photo of Roy Rogers & Trigger valued at $10,000.
Some storage units aren’t for the faint of budget, however. Ledall’s highest-priced sale, full of collectibles, brought $6,900.
BIDDING AGAINST CANCER
Battling rival buyers is a breeze compared to conquering the adversary now trying to beat Grant Ledall. But, as he’d agree, the final bid wins the prize.
On March 15, 2017, the 60-year-old auctioneer was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. To date, he’s undergone two chemotherapy sessions, which equal 12 separate treatments, plus 25 radiation treatments, plus has had radiation seeds implanted in his liver.
Ledall said, “It’s one day at a time. God never promised tomorrow.”
So strong is he in that belief that he got it tattooed (with his own design) on his left upper arm in 2018. Its vivid inks picture a cancer ribbon bearing three crosses and the phrase “One day at a time.”
Ledall is currently in the Provenge Program through Vitilant in Denver. On a Tuesday, they draw two pints of blood, over-night them to California for treatment with Provenge medication, then over-night them back to McKee Medical Center in Loveland to be infused back into Ledall.
This immune therapy can be conducted three times in total. The white blood cells will then fight the cancer for four months to one year.
The ultimate prognosis? Keep bidding to win, one day at a time.
You can follow Grant Ledall and GCL Auctions on Facebook under one or both of those names. ❖
— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at email@example.com.