“I was one of Them: the Strange Ones. The Funny People. The Odd Tribes of autograph collectors and photographers.”

Today is overcast, cool and breezy. A dampness in the air hints at rain. When I went on the deck to watch Gracie, I had to wear my sweatshirt, but I didn’t mind. The sunny, lovely days of the rest of the week were wonderful, but I like today almost as much. I enjoy the contrast. It’s a day to stay close to hearth and home, wear my cozies, stretch out on the couch and read. It’s a nap day.

I have a genetic disposition for collecting inherited from my mother’s side. If she were reading this, she’d be complaining because we all say everything came from her side, but everything did. Some stuff none of us like, but collecting is a favorite. My sister Sheila has a huge Star Trek collection highlighted by a life size cardboard Kirk. He stands in her bedroom. Once I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I walked into her bedroom and thought someone was standing there. It spooked me a bit. My sister Moe has corn husk dolls and nativity sets. These are the collections of theirs I remember best, as I am always on the lookout for stocking stuffers to add to their collections.

My hat collection hangs off the floor to ceiling bookcase in this room. One hat came back with me from Ecuador, another from Morocco. My sister sent me a hat from Ghana she had found in my mother’s house, and two others, made of straw and made in my town, hang on the wall. My other sister gave me her Easter hat from when she was small. It has a long blue ribbon and reminds me of the hats the girls wore in Little House on the Prairie. Most of the other hats are ones I found along the way. Collecting hats just somehow happened. I started with the Ghanaian hats, and before I knew it, I had a collection.

Like my sister, I collect nativity sets. Most of mine come from other countries. They are unique and mirror the cultures where they were made. I have three different ones from Africa. One of the African sets prompted me to made a clay Ghanaian compound with two huts. I made straw roofs for the huts and added pots, gourds and other household tools. I even made a broom, the kind used outside the house to sweep dirt. A beehive oven sits near the compound wall. My house has a mortar and pestle for fufu making and buckets to use when fetching water. A baobab tree stands next to the wall of the compound. That set has become my favorite.

I have B&W pictures of people I don’t know, brides and grooms, old toys including a View-Master with a bunch of discs, many sets of places where I’ve been, even the Ghanaian one.

My house has run out of room for any more collections so I have vowed to start no new ones, but I didn’t pinky swear on purpose.

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36 Comments on ““I was one of Them: the Strange Ones. The Funny People. The Odd Tribes of autograph collectors and photographers.””

  1. hedley Says:

    I am also a collector and wont bore you with the details, however we also overlap with nativity sets. We were in Aix en Provence and were taken with Santons from Santons Fouque – each year we add one or two more figures and look forward to the month they spend on our hall table. This year we added a Grandma and Grandpa (or should it be Pumpa) for Ethan to enjoy


    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Those are beautiful. I just spent a while browsing at their figures, and I think the Wise Men are my favorites.

      Which figures are the grandparents?

      My sister’s kids loved rearranging her nativity sets and adding a variety of figures. Star Wars characters frequently stopped to visit the baby as did Spiderman.

      Ethan will have great fun.

      • Hedley Says:

        if you go to the shop you will find the grandparents sitting on a bench.the tradition is to add the community to the nativity and to mix those coming to the cradle..of course for The Prince they hold a lot of attraction

  2. splendid Says:

    the problem with collecting things is that once people know you collect things they give you stuff as well and my favorite part of collecting is the treasure hunt, so i try not to tell anyone what i collect anymore.
    i do love shells and rocks and most people are happy to bring me these from their travels, mostly because they are easy to find and usually free:)

    great music today kat
    thanks so much!

    • katry Says:

      My sister haunts antique stores hoping to find stocking stuffers for me and sometimes she finds the perfect additions to my collections. I never mind receiving them as gifts though, like you, I love the hunt.

  3. Caryn Says:

    People give me things because they think I collect them. I owned a horse so people gave me horsey things. I had a Jack Russell Terrier so now I have Jack Russell Terrier things.
    Actually, I collect yarn. I must be a collector of yarn because I have lots of skeins of it and they don’t get knit up into the items for which they were originally purchased. Every now and then I look at them much as a miser views his gold pieces. I’m not telling my family and friends that I collect yarn because I really don’t need any help acquiring more of it. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I picture bag after overflowing with all these bright colored strands. They sit in a corner and are a riot of colors.

      You’re the first yarn collector I know.

  4. olof1 Says:

    I wish I had a collection of some kind, but I never sort of have the energy for it. I started to collect those glass balls that You shake so it snows inside them, but I can´t find any 🙂 🙂 I did however collect stamps as a child and I think I still have them somewhere 🙂 🙂

    It has been a rather nice day today, some sun and rather warm. They said it would rain all day today , but still no drops from the sky.
    Have a great day now!

    • katry Says:

      I have some of those-we call them snow globes. Some of the ones I have are really old. They are souvenirs from places. I’ll try and find one from Cape Cod for you. Most souvenir shops are open until mid-October.

      No rain here either.

  5. Jim Says:

    Autographs I have, havbe had, or have access to:

    Doris Lessing

    Laurence Olivier

    Freddy Garrity (Freddy & the Dreamers?)

    Dave Clark (5)

    –and a lot of people who Americans are maybe blissfully uninformed about.

    • john Says:

      Miss Lillian Gish (what a class act)
      and the boys have Walter Payton & Mike Singletary.
      That’s it – but that’s enough!

    • katry Says:

      I had a few autographs too, but they got lost over time. None, though, were anywhere as good as yours.

      • Hedley Says:

        Bobby Moore, Stan Matthews, Muhammad Ali, Ben Hogan, Don Budge and…I was in to it for a real Long time….Roger Bannister, Tommie Smith…

  6. Zoey & Me Says:

    I have two Himalayans, both would do in a collection of anything that wasn’t put in a vault and stored in the garage. So we have antiques and are proud of a few, others just because we got a good deal on them. Some we would never let go. That includes the cats.

    • katry Says:

      Himalayans are beautiful enough to stand in any collection.

      My house has a few antiques as well. An old kitchen table with one drop leaf was my best bargain. It was bought for about $27.00 at the end of an auction. My first was a housewarming gift from my sisters. They should be blamed for starting it.

  7. J.M. Heinrichs Says:

    I collect dust … bunnies.


  8. john Says:

    Let’s see…..
    Canal Zone Postcards & Memorabilia
    “Big Stuff” Postcards (Exaggerations, they’re called)
    Elongated Pennies
    Statehood & National Park Quarters and Presidential Dollars

    I’d mention more but my wife might read this and ask what the other stuff cost too!
    No sense tempting fate.

    When I die the kids will fight over who has to take all this crap.

  9. katry Says:

    My Dear Hedley,
    You have great autographs. I am most impressed with the Roger Bannister.

    • Hedley Says:

      When I was a kid I had an 8 volume 3500 page history of sports called The Game..I have 650 autographs in the book all collected in person, many in later years where athletes took time to sit with me and chat
      now it is a big business and my interest is gone. but yes, I did discuss Mexico 68 with Tommie Smith

      • katry Says:

        My Dear Hedley,
        I still remember him on that medal stand with his arm raised and his fist clenched. What did he say? How did he recollect that moment?

  10. katry Says:

    Again, My Dear Hedley,
    I’ll go back and look for them. I love the idea of a community around the stable.

  11. Cuidado Says:

    Ducks, ducks, and more ducks for me and flower vases to a lesser degree. Dusting is hell.

  12. splendid Says:

    omgosh i forgot i collect these elongated pennies too!!
    it started out with the zoo when the kids were little and now i get one everywhere we go!, same for the pez containers; St Nick used to bring them and snow globes but i have let them go over the years.looking around i see i have a large collection of those ceramic containers that say silly things like: computer viruses, unsolicted advice, and creative financing.
    this was a really great comment thread ! Thanks everyone!

    • Caryn Says:

      I read that last one as “creative flouncing” and began to wonder what that would look like.

    • katry Says:

      I have a few Disney character Pez containers but that’s all. Oops, I forgot about the God awful ugly souvenirs I have, mostly from Florida. The ceramic containers is a great collection, a different sort.

    • john Says:

      I’m up to about 500 on the Pez collection – I staple them to the RecRoom wall in the basement and, considering I’ve been collecting for 20 years or so, it’s a pretty cheap hobby. 500 Pez only comes to about $600ºº for a two decade hobby.

      I started the Canal Zone stuff ’cause that’s where the US Army had me defending our freedoms. Actually, they had me organizing parades and giving away medals. Not to mention smoking a bit of dope now and then.

      Stamps? Probably 5th grade or so. I still collect now and then although the amount of varieties of the US ones get a bit ridiculous so I just get one of each now. I have all the Canal Zone stamps (see above) I can afford – and some I couldn’t. And, for a while I collected the Trust Territories (Pacific Islands we “won” in WWII). They got a bit silly with their issues (Princess Di, Elvis, Mickey Mouse) so now I’m just doing US.
      Ironically, the main tourist stop on our trip West will be Devil’s Tower in WY. I got a National Parks stamp from the 30’s as a kid and have been fascinated by it ever since. I recognized the mashed potato mound immediately in “Close Encounters”

      Exaggerated postcards? Well, they’re funny. Corny would be too much of a pun since a lot of cards have gigantic ears of corn on semi’s, hay wagons, and railroad flat cars.

      The pennies started at San Diego Zoo and have spread to everywhere we go. I’ve rolls of pennies and quarters in the car in case we run across any machines. I copied the location lists for the states we’ll be visiting so I won’t miss any machines.

      The new quarter and dollar coins? Hey, they’re shiny. What can I say?

      Sandy collects tea pots, coffee mugs, and, yes, nativity sets.
      Her stuff’s just clutter, though, whereas mine are all valuable collectors items, probably destined to be worth a king’s ransom,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, someday.

      • katry Says:

        I hope Sandy doesn’t read your comment.

        I have a few of those postcards, all of the cape, but I don’t really have enough to call it a collection. I am awed at the number of Pez you have. I think that makes you a worthy collector.

        Now I want those pennies. At first, I didn’t figure that would interest me until I read this comment. They sound like great souvenirs and ones easily stored as I’ve run out of storage space.

        I have a few old Ghanaian postcards and coins and would add to that if I could find more. It is my Canal Zone.

        I used to collect stamps and started in the sixth grade, but it had more to do with John Hickey who started the stamp club than it did with stamps.

  13. katry Says:

    Thanks, John
    I have never seen them before.

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