Hello to everyone from Georgia!
My name is Bob (Robert N.) Willis. I recently re-joined the insulator hobby after a 25 year hiatus. I have joined the NIA (6158) and am proceeding to get back into the insulator collecting mode.
I was born in 1944 in Louisville, Kentucky moved to Georgia in 1963 to attend Georgia Tech. I co-op'ed with Georgia Power Company and I have been with the Southern System ever since. The Southern Company is the parent company of Georgia Power, Alabama Power, Savannah Electric, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and numerous other subsidiaries one of which is Southern Communications Services, Inc. of which I am now a part of. I am in telecommunications engineering and operations management. I had a short unplanned tour of duty in the Marine Corps upon graduation from college. It was during that time, that I became interested in insulator collecting and started to collect. Although I was very interested for a time, once I was discharged from the Marines, I had other things on my mind and my insulator collecting and collection when into moth balls.
I was sitting in my office one day, which also contains a small museum of power and communications related artifacts, when I realized that I did not have any insulators on display. I was thinking, "well I have some somewhere as I used to collect them." Then I began to wonder if there is any information on the Internet regarding insulator collecting. Boy! Howdee! I discovered the "Glass Insulator Page" and that was all it took. You see, I am a non-recovering "collectaholic". I have assembled several very large collections of various things over the years. I now lament that had I stayed in insulator collecting what I could have done. But, that is a moot issue at this point.
I believe in collecting for the sheer enjoyment of collecting. I like the art, the craftsmanship and the history behind the collectible, the trill of the hunt, and the sharing of interests and experiences with fellow collectors. If I could just order everything out of a catalog, I might as well collect stamps or coins (been there, done that). Now, before I get somebody's dander up, I am not knocking stamp or coin collecting. Both are great hobbies. Of a secondary nature is value. Hey, it is nice to have a valuable collection and I am sure that everyone would like to see their collection increase in value over the years. I certainly do not think that there is anything wrong with collecting with and eye towards an increasingly valuable collection and one which will appreciate over the years. Unfortunately there are, collectors out there who have only a profit/investment mentality. I hope that in the insulator hobby, these folks are few and far between. As far as I am concerned, these folks who are in the hobby only for monetary gain can take their insulators, put them in a bag, tie the bag around their neck and jump into the nearest lake. Well, that is a bit extreme perhaps, but you get the idea. It appears that also there are a few "bad apples" in the hobby who may want to cheat folks and or produce fakes. This is unfortunate, but it is true in any area of collecting when values rise to the point where unscrupulous dealers or collectors are able to make some large, fast bucks. Thank goodness for the NIA in helping to weed out these folks. While I consider myself to be a novice INSULATOR collector, I am certainly NOT a novice collector. So, before you turn up your nose at the Hemingray 42 sitting on my desk, think of history. If only that insulator could talk. It could relate the many thousands of messages via telephone or telegraph that it helped send along their way over the years. And besides, Hemingray blue is kinda pretty--don't you think?
Good luck! And above all, happy collecting to you all. If it ain't fun, it ain't worth doing.
Hope to meet you all someday,
Written by Bob Willis,
Last updated Wednesday, September 11, 1996
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