I am married to Ron Norton, and we have two grown children (Derek and Heather), and two grandchildren (Chris and Jessica). I work full time as a secretary/office manager for geologists and engineers. Each of these co-workers now has at least one insulator on his desk, and one is close to becoming a full-fledged collector. In my so-called spare time, I edit and publish the Rainbow Riders' Trading Post for Insulator Collectors.
I go to as many shows as possible with Ron. We have been to Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas, and all over California attending Nationals, Regionals, and local shows. (We'd hardly been out of California before Ron became an insulator collector.) Ron works overtime most weekends so that we can afford to "see the world," although we seldom see more than the inside of the show hall. I have displayed my collection of insulators at several local shows, one Regional, and one National, which is always fun. Through our club, we put on a yearly show in Cayucos, California. The first "show" that we hosted was a backyard get-together, which was great, but Cayucos is in a more centralized location for all California collectors.
Ron had been collecting for a long time, and we had one room in the house that was full of insulators. I had been going to shows with Ron, and I enjoyed being with his insulator friends. They kept saying that I should actually collect insulators since I had been publishing a magazine about insulators. So, I went into Ron's insulator room to pick out the start of my collection. Looking around the room, I saw a lot of pretty colors. I put all of the brightly colored pieces together, and they all happened to be CD 162s. I liked the shape, the large variety of manufacturers, and the beautiful spectrum of colors. Ron agreed to let me take over the 162s. In fact, with them having been spread all over the room, he hadn't realized that there was such a nice set of them. He was also a little disappointed to look around the room and see that the remaining insulators were mostly aqua, or the subtle tints of his CD 143s from Canada. He was even a little jealous.
Since the beginning of my collection, Ron has been my "agent." He knew more than I did about which colors were missing. So, at shows, I would ask him, "Do I have one in this color?" He is also the one that knows if an insulator is priced high, fair, or at a bargain. So, Ron continues to buy 162s for me; I just point out colors that I like. One thing that Ron didn't bargain on was the fact that no 162 has ever left my collection unless we accidentally got an exact duplicate. The other thing that slows Ron's trading down is that I want every color there is, and I split shades to where he thinks that three or four of them are exactly the same but I can see a slight enough difference to keep them all.
I have some wonderful insulators. My collection of CD 162s includes: an almost clear W.G.M.; all of the McLaughlin and Maydwell tints; almost every bright color in Hemingray; and many bright colors in H.G. Co., including the oxblood. The first time that I displayed my insulators was at the Cayucos Show. Modesty aside, it was an excellent variety of bright colors mixed with pretty tints. Also included were a carnival and one full of bubbles. Steve Crosson saw the display, came to us, and said that he had a jade at home but that it would have a better home in my collection. Ron gave Steve a few insulators for it, and everyone was happy. One day, Ron went to Bill Heitkotter's home to trade insulators. He came back with one insulator of which he was so proud. He had traded several pieces and some cash, and he was sure that I would be very excited about this new 162. But, when I saw the insulator, I asked him why he had brought me such an ugly insulator. Well, I had to keep it (a flashed amber) because I want to have one of each, but I didn't have to like it. I started liking it more when Ron told me that there were very few of them known. Pretty cool. I started liking it a lot when almost everyone who saw it said that they didn't have one and offered me a lot (I mean a lot) of money for it because (they say) there are ony five or six of them known. I don't think I'll ever think it's pretty, but I do really like it now. No 162 collection would be complete without some McLaughlin commemoratives, and mine includes one of the red ones, a white one, and a blue one.
Since I was lucky enough to get almost every color and shade of 162 there is, I branched out. My second collection is of CD 154s because they also have a wonderful array of colors available. I have a good start on them with about 75 different colors, but there is a long way to go. I would especially like to add some Zicmes.
Salesman samples and commemorative miniatures are a real love of mine. Through the cooperation of Richard Wentzel, who also loves to trade, I have a very nice collection. However, I am still looking for a silver carnival 162 miniature.
Ron and I have been going to garage sales and swap meets for years. I once found a nightstand that had been painted about 30 times. It was only $10, so I thought I could afford to take a chance on trying to refinish it. When it was done, it turned out to be a charming antique that was worth a lot more than $10. I proceeded to spend all of my spare time refininshing inexpensive antiques and selling them for profit. Of course, many pieces stayed in our house. Working on the magazine leaves me no time for that anymore, but our house is full of antiques and antique furniture that were bought for almost nothing.
My spoon collection includes one from every state and one from almost every country. I also collect Currier and Ives dinnerware, angels, antique purses, antique hats, and characters disguised as teapots. Thrift stores, swap meets, and garage sales are also wonderful places to find these collectibles.
My husband, Ron, could talk about nothing else but insulators. This went on for about six months. He and his friend, Keith, kept talking about someday starting a new magazine for collectors - for trading only. (First, let me tell you about Ron's trading. He bought several insulators in the beginning, none worth more than about $10. He found a collector in Canada who thought that the common stuff from California was wonderful and traded three threadless insulators he had found for many of Ron's common pieces. Ron kept his eyes open for inexpensive insulators and eventually would trade several of them for one pretty good one. Through this method, Ron ended up with hundreds of nice insulators, mostly in the $1 to $50 range; eventually trading a few $50 insulators for one worth $500, etc. He loves trading, and he has a real knack for turning nothing into something!) I couldn't stand any longer to hear these two talk about the trading magazine that they would someday start. I went to my computer and typed up a sample of what I thought a trading magazine should be, using the Crown Jewels of the Wire as a guide. Ron and Keith were thrilled that something had actually gotten done.
We sent out mailers that the magazine was starting, lining up a few subscribers in advance. The San Luis Obisbo Western Regional was coming up (Ron's first show ever), so I sent the guys off loaded up with sign-up sheets. We were off to a good start. The first issue of the Rainbow Riders' Trading Post was in November, 1991. We don't have as many subscribers as we would like, but we will continue to keep our subscribers as informed as possible every month. Our subscribers feel like family to us, and many have become very good friends.
Well, there was so much work involved in the magazine - finding articles, writing articles, typing, keeping records, buying supplies and postage, taping up an original, making copies, folding and stapling magazines, adding postage and labels, etc. - that the dishes starting piling up, the house was getting pretty dirty, dinner? what dinner?, dirty laundry was piled up, and there was no food in the house. Ron saw that he had two choices: he could take over the magazine duties and have a wife back; or he could take over the household duties. He went for the latter. I am lucky enough to have a husband who now does all of the household chores, including: grocery shopping, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, dishes, polishing, mopping floors, changing sheets, etc. And, he does a pretty good job. I pitch in when we know that company is coming, but I am allowed to not worry about the house, on top of the magazine and my full-time job, most of the time. Ron now even helps out with the magazine by stapling and adding postage. Without his help and support, the magazine could not continue. Nor could it without the support of subscribers (in the form of articles, ads, renewals, and supportive letters and comments).
Although we love to trade, we also buy and sell insulators. We even buy collections when we are running low on trade/sales stock so we can continue to have a full table at the shows, and so Ron won't have to have that operation to get the telephone removed from his ear.
I was proudly honored in 1993 by receiving the Outstanding Service Award from the National Insulator Association for producing the Rainbow Riders' Trading Post.
I am your current Show Standards Chairman. I am lucky enough to be sharing the duties with a committee that includes Ginny Way and Ron Norton.
Ron & Patti Norton
234 North Fifth Street
Port Hueneme, CA 93041
(Ron handles most of the calls. I have a special phone which allows me to use the phone at all. But, my hearing is not good enough for me to be comfortable or confident on the phone.)
My other home page: http://www.rainbowriderstradingpost.com
Written by Patti Norton,
Last updated Sunday, September 22, 1996
Rainbow created by Gini Schmitz, copyright 1995 Cameo Graphics, at http://www.vol.it/mirror2/en/rainbow/
Return to the Insulator Collectors' Pages