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Month: July 2016

Glass insulators

Glass insulators

Another glass item that I collect is insulators. I’m talking about the glass usually-cone-shaped things that are on the tops of telephone poles to insulate the electric wires.

Quite a few people collect insulators. The first time I saw an insulator was in an antique store. I was intrigued by it and had to ask what it was. When I found out, I got bitten by the collecting bug and never looked back.

Now I have a ton of them. I have them displayed along a fence rail around my back yard. They’re interesting to look at and they also make for quite the conversation starters.

I like to find insulators in antique stores and restoration-type stores. I don’t mean new stores in malls. I mean like those warehouse-type stores where you can find a ton of stuff usually covered in dust and ill-organized. But if you’re patient and persistent, you can unearth some gold mines.

Whenever I visit a new city, if possible I’ll go to whatever restoration stores I can find. They’re never centrally located to anything because they’re usually in a big warehouse, but I’ll take a taxi or rent a car and go track them down.

pompeiiI have found some pretty great insulators. One time I found an orange insulator from Pompeii. I have no idea how it made it across the ocean to this country or to the restoration site it ended up in, but I grabbed it. It had some distinctive markings so I knew it was the real deal.

Another time I found an insulator from the first telephone line that crossed the United States. It had the name of the line on it and a serial number, and those two pieces of information proved that it was the real deal.

Sometimes I’ll trade or sell my insulators. It’s kind of like old-fashioned Pokemon card trading that my kids used to do. I usually post online that I have a certain insulator to trade or sell, and then someone will message me back, and if all the details are in order, we’ll meet for the handoff.

I’ve gotten $500 for a glass telephone insulator. Several times. They were a particular make and variety. Most insulators don’t sell for anywhere near that much. Sometimes you can actually pick them up for like a buck.

I have also put some of my insulators onto eBay and some I’ve taken down to our local auction house.

Ebay bidding can get crazy, especially if you have two motivated buyers. Then it’s like all hell breaks loose. I remember once I had a pink insulator in an active auction. There were a couple of interested buyers that put in half-hearted bids. Thirty seconds before the auction ended, a bidding war started. Every second the price went up, as the two buyers bid each other up.

auctionsThey were both determined to win the auction. But when the bell was rung, so to speak, the auction was done and there was only one winner. The guy who paid $735 for one glass insulator.

Wow!
Shot Collection

Shot Collection

I told you I collect bottles. I also collect shot glasses.

I know, shot glass collections aren’t anything original or unique. But I’ve been working on my collection for a long time, and I’m picky about the shot glasses I get.

whiskey glass I don’t just get any old shot glass from any old place. It has to be meaningful and significant in some way. Otherwise I’d have a million dumb shot glasses from places like Six Flags Over Texas or Round-up Pete’s New Mexico Gas Depot.

Nope, I try to be pretty intentional about what I collect. Especially now, knowing how many collections I have going. I just don’t have the space for endless assortments of insignificant trinkets.

So . . . the shot glasses. I decided when I first started collecting them that I would only get glasses from places where a significant event happened. That could be a significant social gathering/event like a wedding, or a significant conversation, or a significant life moment, or a significant destination.

Since much of my life, like anyone’s, is made up of mostly humdrum moments with a scattering of significant ones, it seemed a pretty reasonable way to pursue a collection.

So now I have maybe a hundred shot glasses, and each one does represent something special or meaningful.

court house I just realized that I don’t collect shot glasses from places where negatively meaningful things happen. In other words, I did not get a shot glass from the Wannahawkaloogie Court House on the date of my divorce. Or from the Lewis J Smedes funeral home after the services for my nephew. Or from Pratt County Millhouse on the day that I lost my job.

I don’t want to have memories of events like that. Probably some shrinks or 12-step groups would say there is something cathartic or healingly reminding in negative situations that are remembered, but I don’t care. That’s not for me.

I have three shot glasses from my second honeymoon. I mean, the second time I got married and I went on a honeymoon, I got some shot glasses.

I got the shot glasses because some really cool things happened on that trip, and not just because it was a honeymoon.

Our honeymoon was to the Cinqueterre area of the Italian coastline. We stayed in a little private villa in Riomaggiore. The villa was glued to the side of the steep mountain (along with all the other houses and villas) and had this incredible sweeping view of the Adriatic Sea. It was like a gem, most days—an incredible blue that shimmered like it was alive.

One day in Riomaggiore, we went down to a café at the bottom of the mountain for a coffee. There in that café, as we were sipping our coffee, I overhead a conversation. It was another couple, tourists, but not obnoxious ones.

To make a long story short, overhearing that conversation led to another conversation, and I found out that the guy of the couple was my brother. I didn’t even know I had a brother until that trip.

So yeah, it was a life-changing event. And I got a shot glass from that café!