Remember when you were a kid and you collected__________ (fill in the blank).

The mere act of collecting items — whether it be stamps, coins, baseball cards, or comic books — doesn’t seem to have the attraction for today’s kids that it did for some of us. The author of an article I read recently speculated that modern-day youngsters are more interested in computer or video games and TV viewing than in the hobbies that occupied our leisure hours.

The government’s state quarter program may have lured some youngsters into beginning a coin collection, but I suspect in more cases it was parents or grandparents who were keeping an eye out for the coins to save for the kids.

After finishing the article I began to wonder if any of my co-workers in the newsroom had been collectors when they were young, so, notebook in hand, I pestered each of them.

Here are the results of my mini-quiz:

Brad Kellar, reporter: “I was a huge pack rat — coins, stamps and especially comic books. When I married Veda, she laid down the law and made sure I cleaned out all my closets and drawers because the comic books took up way too much space. I wasn’t a serious collector though. Some of the comic books might have been valuable, but most of them weren’t in that great shape. The covers were coming off and the pages were torn.”

Amber Pompa, reporter/feature writer: “I collected snow globes. My grandmother probably bought me my first one, and then every Christmas and every birthday I’d get another. I still have them — a couple with fairies inside; a carousel, some angels and a Phantom of the Opera. I don’t collect them any more, but I still have some of them displayed.”

Danny Walker, Herald-Banner editor: “I collected stamps and coins, and started with the coins when I was a little bitty kid. We went to War Eagle in northwest Arkansas, and I bought some there. Now I also collect paper money, from as far back as the 1820s, and I have some Roman coins. The stamps were mostly international stamps. I had a pen pal in Germany and always liked the stamps he sent. I also had a friend from Ethiopia, and he’d give me stamps from his letters. Ethiopia was communist at the time, and the Russian-type stamps were interesting. I still have them.”

David Wilfong, Rockwall County Herald-Banner editor: “Coins, both old American and foreign currency, and also paper money. I have a German 5 deutschmark note printed in August 1914 (the same month that World War I started) — can’t remember how I got it — and I still have a small box of coins. I’ll occasionally find a “wheat” penny, which is an ordinary penny but has a wheat design on the reverse side rather than the Lincoln Memorial. I also have a steel penny from 1943 when there was a shortage of copper during World War II, and they used zinc-plated steel.”

Chad Blackshear, reporter: “I didn’t really collect anything as a kid, but now any time I come across a foreign coin, I try to buy it if it’s reasonable. Some coins I got in Europe a few years ago, and I have some mounted on a board and displayed. I don’t go to swap meets or coin shows though.”

Jay Strickland, Commerce Journal editor: “I had several collections at different times. I collected rocks from different places, especially when we were on vacation, and I still have a couple I polished. I also have the coins I collected, and my two boys will ask me to get them down so they can look at them. There are also four or five arrowheads in my collection — I never had very many, but I’m always looking. Oh yes, I also collected about 20 of the 26 Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs.”

David Claybourn, sports editor: “Baseball and football cards. They were on the Post cereal boxes, and after the box was empty, you’d get a scissors and cut them off the box. At the convenience store, I bought gum with football cards in the packages. I still have them, and some are probably worth $80 to $100 each. One would be worth more than $1,000 — a Joe Namath rookie card — but I can’t find it. I lost it in a move, apparently.”

Rose Marie Williamson, news clerk, said she didn’t collect anything as a child. “The only things I collect now are dust bunnies and recipes.”

Warren Morrison, Herald-Banner managing editor: “Baseball cards and comic books. My favorite comic books were the Superman and Batman comics. I started early and continued till I was about 13 when we moved here from Chicago and I gave them away or threw them out. To this day I swear I had the Nolan Ryan rookie card which can sell for up to $1,500 today. It kills me!”

Leslie Gibson, reporter: “I collected little things — a lifetime of little things like a miniature wind-up flower that spins, a mini-Snoopy notebook, a miniature china rabbit, bottle caps, miniature pencils, anything that’s little. My grandfather had jars of little Cracker Jack toys, and he gave us a bunch; I guess that’s where it started. I have a storage shed I’m paying 40 bucks a month for to store everything in.”

As for me, I was dog-crazy as a child, so I collected small hand-carved wooden dogs representing the major breeds. All were done by the same artist whose name I never learned, and I saved my allowance to buy them at a gift shop in Sioux City. They were displayed on a wall shelf in the dining room, and had to be carefully dusted every week. I still have them, only they are stored in a shoe box.

And they don’t have to be dusted.



Ferguson is a feature writer for the Herald-Banner.

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