We all collect things; we start when we are quite young and continue our entire lives. Boys collect certain things, and girls collect certain things, and sometimes they collect the same thing. Sometimes they collect things we don’t expect them to collect. Sometimes we laugh at what we see others collect, and yet other times we covet what others have collected. There is no rhyme or reason for our collections. Our most cherished things could be junk to another. That is how collecting works.
Over the years I have known many people who collected things. One gentleman I knew and worked with collected beer cans. At one point he bragged that he had over a 1,000 different beer cans from over 350 different breweries, and over half of the cans in his collection were unopened. I also knew a lady that collected pigs in any way shape or form (except alive). My wife likes to collect small decorative boxes and elephants. No the elephants don’t fit in the boxes. Allison collected stamps for the longest of times, and even had me take her to the stamp shop so she could buy stamps for her collection. Another lady I knew and worked with collected matchbooks. She had quite the collection. I will talk further about this a bit later. Still another of my good friends collects cribbage boards of all sizes and manners. The point is that people will collect whatever their heart desires, and they will take great pride in their collections. Today I am going to talk about my collections, or the things I have collected over the years.
The earliest memory of collecting for me was marbles. I remember being in the 3rd grade and having a fine bunch of marbles. The pride of the collection, were the “cat eye” marbles. They were the prettiest, and very very rarely did you find 2 that looked the same. They were called “cat eye” because they looked like a cats’ eye. I also remember playing marbles on the school grounds and getting caught once, which at the time warranted a half day suspension and your marbles were confiscated, never to be seen again. That’s why you never took your “cat eyes” to school with you. You didn’t mind the half day off, but losing your marbles was a different story. Maybe that’s where the phrase “losing your marbles” got its start. I wonder if my granddaughter and other children of her generation even know what marbles are.
As a kid I collected baseball cards, but that really didn’t last long. It cost money to collect the cards. Generally you got 3 or 5 cards and a thick slab of bubble gum, but that would cost you a nickel. Back in the old days a nickel was a lot of money, and I didn’t have much, and I couldn’t afford to collect cards based on my allowance. So that never took hold, though looking back that could have been quite profitable had I played the cards right. But as the years have gone by I have collected shot glasses, logo golf shirts (from all the nice golf courses I played). I also collected a nice golf shirt (or tee) each year when I went to the ABC tournament (besides the very nice shirts Robert bought the team each year). Before I got the Nook I collected books. Going back to golf for a second, I also collected nice golf towels, either from a special course or golf equipment manufacture. When we moved from northern Virginia to Florida in 2002, collectively Steph and I donated almost 2,000 books to the local library, over 400 hundred were hard backs, and almost 90 pct of the hardbacks were 1st additions. We were starting to acquire a huge library again when we both got Nooks. Maybe someday I will have 2,000 books on my Nook.
Over the years I have collected a variety of things beyond marbles and baseball cards. I suspect that what you collect is in some way tied directly to what your disposable income. When I was in the Navy I started to collect match books. Back then I was a smoker and having matches was always a plus, it is very difficult to rub two cigarettes together to light one. Gosh I’m so funny! I soon took to grabbing at least 2 or 3 packs of matches from every bar or restaurant I visited (always managing to save one pack untouched). At one point I had a couple hundred different match books from all over the world (at least from Europe more closely the Med) and the US. For years in a giant fish bowl I kept these match books. But my interest in collecting them waned, and I was talking to my co-worker about my matchbooks when she admitted that she loved collecting them. I volunteered to give her my collection. We were both happy I had my fishbowl back and she got about 100 match books from the Med that she never had. Because we worked together, over the next couple years I would bring her matchbooks from wherever travel took me. While the matchbooks themselves didn’t cost a penny, the cost to collect them must have been a small fortune. LOL because I managed always to have at least one drink or a meal from the place I was getting the matchbook.
Collecting coasters became an extension of collecting matchbooks. It was quite easy to cop an extra coaster at any bar and I had many great ones. My favorite coaster came from the “Hogs Breath” in Brisbane Australia, and if I look hard enough I can probably find one someplace around the house. Allison gave me a packet of 8 coasters that said “Dad’s Saloon” and I still have a couple of those around the house as well. But like collecting matches I lost interest in keeping and maintaining the collection of coasters.
My interest in collecting is now focused on three things, Watches (and table clocks), golf balls and Baseball hats.
Being a golfer, you have many opportunities to find, or acquire different golf balls. When playing you can stumble across them in the weeds or in the water, of course if all else fails you can buy one in the pro shop. But it is surprising how many events celebrate themselves with logo golf balls. My interest in collecting them started in the early 80’s when a friend went to Hawaii and brought me a “Hawaii” golf ball. That ball is one of 37 that are displayed in my golf ball display case. I have golf balls from a variety of places including; from the course Allison and I played in Virginia, Poipu Bay in Hawaii (where Steph and I vacationed), from St. Andrews (which Steph got me when she visited Scotland), from Greendale (my home course in Alexandria VA), from Diamond Back in Haines City, FL, where the course is named after the 10 foot Diamondback rattle snake found the 1st day of construction. I also have the golf ball I made my only eagle (sinking a 150 yard shot for an eagle 3). Yesterday my collection numbered 38 balls, but Cari and I were sitting in my office and she asked if she could have a golf ball, I gave her the only pink golf ball I had (which came from the Susan B Komen walk for the cure) and explained the significance of the ball, maybe she will keep and cherish it maybe not. Maybe it will be the start of her collecting. One can only hope.
At one time I had 57 baseball hats; my collection is currently down to twenty. Some of my favorite include; the 5 different U of L hats, the Disney – Grumpy hat, my St. Andrews hat, my (not so) white Callaway Golf hat (the single most worn hat in my collection), and other special hats given to me by friends over the years. At one time I had 12 continuous years of US OPEN hats, but they changed the style and I stopped getting them. The problem (not so) is if I see a cool hat I will get that one, so most likely the collection of hats will grow again, hopefully not to 57.
And finally I am going to talk about my collection of watches and desk clocks. This collection means the most to me. Each watch or time piece has a special meaning. Or it was given to me for a special reason, or event. Each time piece has its’ own story, and I can pretty much look at any one of them and tell you why I have it and who gave it to me. I own 27 wrist watches, 1 pocket watch, and 5 desk clocks. I won’t bore you with 33 little stories, but I will share a few of the more important ones.
Only one of my desk clocks actually sits on my desk. Steph gave me a pewter dragon clock to celebrate our 21st anniversary, it has sat continuously on my desk for the last 14 years. The pocket watch belonged to my father-in-law, a man I respected greatly. I don’t ever remember him using it, but after he passed away, Arlene asked me if I would like it. I have cherished it ever since, it sits on a pocket watch display, under a little glass dome. When my father passed away I got one of his watches as well, its’ an inexpensive watch, but equally important to me. It stays in my jewelry box. I have never worn it. The watch that started the collection was given to me as a Valentine gift in 1995. When I received this gift it was the first time in my life I owned 2 working watches at the same time. Another of the more special watches I have I got in Rome. My wife and I were in Rome because my wife had been invited by the company she worked for, to attend this worldwide conference for their best performers, after a day of hard sightseeing we were on our way back to the hotel and stopped at this jewelry store, she got me an Italian watch. I wear in on a regular basis. I have 2 watched awarded to me from the ABC (American Bowling Congress), for bowling games 100 or more pins over my ABC average. The first award was when I bowled a 269 game on a 155 average, and the second award came 4 years later when I bowled a 279 on a 175 average. Most of the watches I have commemorate a special trip or event. I have gotten watches from Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain and the US, from a variety of manufactures including; Casio, Citizen, Fossil, Lovona, Timex, Seiko, Swatch, and Tag Heuer. I count where it was purchased as it’s from location.
I know in 3 weeks I will be getting my 28th wrist watch, because I am getting me a Mickey Mouse watch. The collection will continue to grow, heck I might even come home with my twenty-first hat, who knows?
Thank you for taking the time to get to the end of this epic on collections. We all have things we collect, I am sure as you read this you thought of the things you have collected over the years, and what each meant to you. In the future you might look at a child and wonder what they collect, or look at a parent and wonder. It doesn’t matter what you collect, because it is important to you, not me or them, but you.
As always if you have any thoughts or comments you would like to share please do. Take care and have a great week. — Bill