It’s a livestock auctioneering career likely qualifying for the Guinness Book of World Records.
When Col. Verlin Green of Perry, Kansas, dropped the gavel July 24, 2019, it was culminating climax of 57 years serving the auction block.
Claiming he’s completed his lifetime profession the nearly 84-years-old auctioneer’s official last day of work was at Overbrook Livestock in Overbrook, Kansas.
“I’d worked there 26 years, but I’ve also sold at a couple handfuls of auction barns through the years. Several longer than that, plus a lot of farm sales and other auctions,” Green said. “It was time to stop while I was still satisfying the sellers, buyers and auction barn owners. This will give me more time to run the hounds.”
In apparent sound health, good voice, hearing and eyesight recovering nicely from cataract work.
“I’m doing quite well,” he said. “It’s been a good day. A friend and I just ran seven hounds for five hours or so. I just love their music when they pick up a scent.”
Brief clarification – Green takes his Beagles out three or four times a week, usually four female dogs of his own.
“They’ll get on a rabbit, start howling and get that rabbit circling until he goes into cover,” he said.
It’s all for the sport of the chase watching and listening to the hounds not bagging the prey.
“I’d never shoot a rabbit, and then there wouldn’t be any more excitement for the chase,” he said.
Growing up at Perry, his dad handled cattle, did some buying and selling. Green would go to the sales with him.
“The auctioneers fascinated me, and I’d practice auctioneering on my own, act like I was selling cattle,” he said.
He’d also sometimes get to ride around with Johnny Ross a local trucker who heard him practicing the auction chant.
“Johnny said, ‘Verlin you’re really good for a kid. You ought to take up the auction profession.’ And by gosh that’s what I decided to do,” Green said. “In my greatest imagination I never dreamed it’d turn out like it did. All these years as an auctioneer, all those sales and the millions of cattle sold.”
Officially perfecting his auctioneering skills, Green attended and graduated from the Missouri Auction School in Kansas City. He came home and went to work as an auctioneer for the Farmers Livestock Exchange at Wakarusa.
The once-a-week auction garnered attention from buyers, sellers and other auction barn owners seeking his services. People asked him to conduct their farm sales and household auctions. He obliged a lot of the time, but he preferred working the sale barns.
“There was one stretch with sale barns and local weekend auctions I sold for 30 days straight,” he said.
Proof of his masterful skill of the auction chant profession came when Green started teaching at his alma meter.
“I taught at the Missouri Auction School for 15 years. That was a great experience helping train so many the skills of the auction business,” he said.
In the early 1970s, Green went to work for Kansas City Stockyards, where he worked for 20 years. They had three sales a week starting out then went to four days, so Green also sold at Emporia Livestock on Friday.
Such demands can be straining on the voice, hearing and eyes, but there was systematic rotation among Kansas City auctioneers.
“We were selling lots of cattle back in the ’70s. With killer cows Monday, smaller drafts Tuesday and Wednesday we’d sell from a thousand to twenty five hundred a day. Auctioneers would trade off every 100 lots,” Green said.
Biggest day was Thursday with 6,000 sometimes more than 10,000 cattle sold.
“We didn’t sell any singles, at least five head in a draft, so we’d trade off working the block every 60 drafts,” Green said. “Sometimes, we’d go into the wee hours of the morning. I’d get home two or three hours and have to be back working an auction.”
Besides Emporia, Kansas City, Overbrook and Wakarusa, Green worked regular stints for several years each at other auction barns. That included Council Grove, St. Marys, Kingsville (Missouri), Lawrence and Waverly.
Selling purebred cattle auctions is a niche all its own and Green served that trade as well. He sold Hamm’s N R Bar Angus Sale several years. Green was friends with the nationally prominent Angus auctioneer Ray Sims and worked with him at a number of big Angus auctions. Green also served as ring man bid taker at purebred sales working for livestock publications including the Kansas Stockman.
Called on to sell youth premium auctions at several area county fairs, highlight was selling American Royal champions.
“They had Roy Clark come sell the grand champion there one time, but he didn’t know how to auction. I coached Roy before the sale, helped him along during the auction and it turned out fine,” Green said.
An occasional horse sale was added to Green’s busy schedule.
With his longevity in the cattle auction business, Green has seen high and low prices. Cattle were 20 cents a pound when he started in the 1960s, then the price got up to more than $3 a pound three or four years ago.
“The cattle being sold now have more height and length than when I started selling,” Green said.
A mentor to inspiring and successful auctioneers, Green remembers becoming acquainted with Wayne Wischropp. He was just getting started and called Green when he was selling the Council Grove barn. He stopped by Lyndon on his way home and helped Wischropp line up his first big auction. They worked together a lot through the years. Green helped him and Charles Beatty out several times when they had that consignment sale at Osage City.
Darwin Kurtz, Westphalia auctioneer, credits Green for getting him into the profession.
“I was totally fascinated with Verlin Green at Kansas City in the early ’70s,” Kurtz said. “When they’d switch auctioneers, Verlin started tapping his trademark block of wood and a dead market suddenly came to life.
“His fast rhythmic punches of words and spontaneous noise tapping the block were totally unique to Verlin Green,” Kurtz said.
Dean Moore and Jude Carey were a couple auctioneers Green mentioned as personal inspiration for his profession.
The old saying “Behind every successful man is a strong woman” is verified by Col. Verlin Green. He and Connie have been married 61 years.
“Along with her jobs away from home, Connie has always taken care of me,” he said. “Whenever I’d get back, she’d have meals on the table, get my clothes ready and I’d be gone again. I couldn’t have done any of this without Connie.”
His wife appreciates his abilities in the sale barn.
“Verlin is well known for sparking up an auction,” she said. “He’s quite the jokester, always having fun and enjoying the people.”
The couple has two children: Cristy Green Bidinger of Perry and Kyle Green of Lawrence. They have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“We’re so proud of them all. They’re the highlight of our lives these days,” Green said.
Unlike others often tied to the livestock auction business, Green hasn’t handled many cattle of his own.
“I had some cattle in the early years, but there just wasn’t time being on the road all of the time,” Green said. “I never speculated bought and traded cattle, wasn’t even tempted; it has sure backfired on some.”
Previously enjoying hunting raccoons, Green rode mules as his hounds worked and is former leader in the Midwest Mule Club.
While he also used to hunt coyotes with dogs, Green has found most enjoyment from his Beagles. He raised pups and trained Beagle hounds. With quality food being essential for dogs to work their best, he developed and produced his own line of dog food.
Green’s High Power Dog Food Co. attracted patronage from a wide area.
“It was a good sideline business for 20 years until I sold the company,” Green said.
Stringency of the occupation threatened Green in 1977 as he suffered a heart attack when he was 41.
“The doctor didn’t have any trouble figuring out the cause when I told him what I did,” Green said. “But I was back selling auctions in three months and fortunately haven’t had any of those issues since.
“My goal in the auction business was to satisfy the sale barn owners, the consigners, and the buyers,” Green said.
Certainly, Col. Verlin Green is the one for the records in the livestock auctioneering business.