A snap-decision collection a long time in the making.
For as long as I remember, I have been collecting things.
Long before it was a chic money-making enterprise, I started out with compiling baseball cards as a child. I wince when I think of the possible goldmine that I had wasted in my younger years just to enjoy the ‘whirrrrr’ sound they made as I attached a card with a clothes pin to my bicycle wheel spokes. (I’m pretty sure for every Horace Clark and Zoilo Versalles, I also destroyed a few Willie Mays or Rod Carew cards.)
In rebellion to the commercialization of the once-fun card collecting craze, I started looking for obscure sports-related items. No longer just focusing on baseball, I ventured out to have my collection include anything from a ceramic sculpture of a Philadelphia Flyer’s hockey player to a REG-GIE candy bar wrapper to a complete set of Slurpee cups embossed with the likeness of the original Olympic Basketball Dream Team.
Over the years I have dabbled in collecting everything from buttons to matchbooks to obscure college sweatshirts to salt and pepper shakers.
One of my collections that I would like to expand upon are bobbleheads. They line up so nicely (if, unlike me, you keep them all together, out of the box, and maintained in an orderly fashion). A place on my travel bucket list is the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
I would suspect almost everyone collects something. Just about when our oldest son Aaron turned 10 years old, it was his rite of passage to choose something to collect. He picked Pez — those charming, sliding character-topped sugar pellet containers. While his pales in comparison to those on display at the Pez Memorabilia Museum in Burlingame, California, it did make birthday and Christmas shopping a tad easier for a few years.
There appears to be fine line between collecting and hoarding, and I admit I have teetered on that line a few times myself. (No comments please from the other individuals with whom I reside.) Collecting is just part of my Obsessive-Compulsive personality. The other things might be better fodder for future columns.
While collections tend to fit into the ‘hobby’ category, it would be somewhat interesting to me how some people got started (and why the things would be interesting to them).
There is a guy who has 55,000 dresses and a woman who collects umbrella sleeves. Not just confined to the United States, there is a man from the Netherlands who is approaching owning 7,000 airline barf bags. I guess it never hurts to be prepared.
For every ‘unusual’ compilation of things, there are ones that just make you downright queasy. From jars filled with belly button ‘fluff’ to 30,000 toenail clippings, there seems to be no limit to what people like to be surrounded by.
In a way, our collections define us.
No one may represent that more in sports today than Cleveland Browns Offensive Lineman Joe Thomas. Since he first stepped onto the field in the pro ranks in 2007, the University of Wisconsin product has been collecting football plays as he has not missed a snap/play on the gridiron. No time off for a tweaked knee, a rolled-upon ankle or just to get a breather in the late summer sun.
Last Sunday marked Thomas’ 10,000 consecutive snap, in his 161st straight game suiting up in the brown and orange. While longevity is one thing, consistency/reliability is quite another.
While people can (and have/will) debate Thomas’ merits concerning his (in my opinion) rightful future place in Canton, there is no arguing that he is the one constant for the Browns while the players behind him (quarterbacks) and men instructing him (coaches) have been filtering in and out of FirstEnergy Stadium.
In a town that has a dazzlingly-transcended basketball king and a baseball team on what-appears-to-be another World Series finals stretch run, Thomas is happy letting those around him bask in the spotlight. Remember, he is the guy who skipped the NFL draft to go fishing.
Through his hard work, Joe Thomas certainly has a collection that others can admire.
I sure would like to get a bobblehead of him for my collection.
Jeff Gates has been a free-lance writer for The Madison Press since 1996. His column ‘Life Happens’ will appear weekly.