The 2017 21st Annual Rhode Ranch Tailgater is now in the hobby history books and it includes a personal highlight. Jason Townsend blew into the Ranch Friday evening carrying a just picked, farm-fresh lineman's collection from Porterville, CA, which had been stored outdoors for many years and was now bucketed and sitting in the trunk of his rental car. Along with the mud and slime encrusted insulators were various critters that had taken up residence in the insulators and were rudely disturbed by the ravenous horde of insulator collectors that were picking through the buckets. The less squeamish were able to gingerly pick through the insulators, introducing themselves to the black widow spiders, ticks and mosquito larvae that wanted to know what the hobby was all about.
For some strange reason unknown to me I had packed a pair of work gloves in my wagon and rushed to my car to secure them. I was thus well-insulated compared to my many bare-handed friends who chose to spectate, rather than dive into the adventures and dangers of the buckets. The first couple of buckets turned up nothing of personal interest and then I hovered over an unattended bucket of aqua glass insulators. After digging down a couple of insulator layers, I spied the familiar profile of a California baby signal. I rotated it in my hand to confirm my California identification and noticed a glint of aqua color in the skirt despite the insulator's mud covering.
After that I had to finish searching the rest of the bucket with one hand as the other hand was tightly gripped on the baby signal. Spectators noticed my odd behavior and knew I had found something special. Fortunately I had my kung fu grip on the signal, which prevented it from leaving my possession.
This blue (not blue aqua) California baby signal was just one of a half dozen California's in the entire collection of glass and porcelain and the only CD 160 in the whole collection. What freakish stroke of fate could cause it to be personally found by me and ultimately turning out to be the best piece in the collection?