Here I am at one of the four light boxes in my home
It all started in the summer of 1969 when I was 10 years old. I had come home one day with the latest in a series of bad haircuts. It wasn't the barber's fault, really; a ten-year-old boy just can't sit still. My mother, however, had had enough. When the time came for my next trim she took me to a different shop. About mid-way through this new humiliation I noticed that the long windowsill here was lined with glass insulators of all shapes and sizes and colors. In addition to the ones out front, these two barbers had shelf upon shelf of colorful and interesting insulators. I was just amazed! Naturally, I knew what they were. They were common along many of my favorite hangouts such as the railroad track, the railroad trestle through town, and the old depot building. My big question to these guys was, �Why do you have all these things in your shop?� �We collect them� was his reply, and with a little further explanation I understood. The rest, as they say, is history.
Most of the first 1000 or so insulators that I dragged home were just junk, but slowly I began to find better pieces. I remember once having a friend hold me by the ankles while I hung out a window to retrieve a pair of unused Hemingray-19's from the side of a store building about 25 feet up. Another time telephone workers dismantled a two-crossarm exchange line that ran near my grandmother's house. I nearly drove my parents crazy trying to get them to take me back so I could get more insulators.
At that time, however, my collecting days were just about over until much later. My parents never really supported my endeavors. To my dad, taking the insulators was stealing. It didn't matter to him that the lines (and by extension the insulators) were abandoned. �They aren't yours� I can still hear him say. My mother's objection was altogether different but just as strong. The places where these things could be found were all areas, which were far too dangerous. I, on the other hand, saw no reason why snakes, insects, briars or moving trains should deter me from my little treasure hunts. Without their support, though, and with my lack of any source of books or other information my interests soon turned to other things. Later, when I was in college, my interest was rekindled a bit, but again due to a lack of information my collecting went nowhere.
I remember it well. It was super bowl Sunday, 1996. Not being a football fan I decided to go online that day (a new undertaking for me). After some surfing I ended up in the hobbies section of AOL under the category �bottles�. Knowing from past experience that many bottle collectors also collected insulators, I tried posting an inquiry. My post said something like �I've got several hundred glass insulators in my storage building out back. Does anyone still collect these things?�
Len Linscott in Florida answered my question, and he got me headed in the right direction. OH! If we'd only had the Internet when I was younger. What a wonderful resource!
Today my collection has grown to over 600 pieces, but I have owned and sold several thousand more. My goal is to be able to display 1000 insulators in backlit cabinets. Right now my lighted displays hold about 450.
My main insulator collecting interests now are:
Other things I collect:
I like to buy, sell, trade or just talk insulators. Phone, write, email or come by in person for a visit. Other collectors are always welcome.
You can also visit my online photo album.
P.O. Box 1
Inverness, MS 38753
Written by Charles Bibb,
Last updated Monday, October 12, 2000
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