Hi my name is Greg Hale (Phantom of the Wires) to some. I was born in Erie
Pennsylvania in 1960. As a kid growing up my father worked for the General Electric
Company and in the summer of 1970 accepted a transfer to Shreveport Louisiana. I was
severely bitten by the insulator bug September 1977 at the age of 16 and have been
suffering its wonderful effects since.
Insulator collecting first started while in my high school Geology class. I had a friend, Billy Andrews, who collected insulators and one day he brought in some glass insulators to show my best friend Steve German and I. Like a tick on a dog insulator fever consumed me at that moment. Not far from our neighborhood was an old toll line that had been stripped of wire and poles cut down with young trees growing up thru them. We found this by accident while in the woods. We accumulated quite a few insulators nothing rare but a collection has to start with the common stuff. Climbing poles and walking the railroads in town was now the norm. I remember the first aqua pieces I found on an old abandoned Texas Pacific rail line in Grand Cane. They were CD 145 H.G.Co. and a CD 151 H.G.CO. Petticoat with sharp drips on both skirts. My friend Steve and I would drive everywhere to walk pole lines. We called ourselves, "Phantom of the Wires". We would take before and after pictures of some of the poles I climbed. We had so much fun retrieving insulators; the memories will live with me forever.
In the spring of 1979 after graduating from high school, my father accepted another transfer from General Electric to the New England area. Somersworth New Hampshire is where the GE plant is located, and my parents bought a house in Dover.
My insulator collection at that time was about one hundred pieces and about two hundred spare pieces for trading. The funny thing about moving my insulators up to New Hampshire is the moving guy paid me to load them on the truck. They were all wrapped in newspaper and placed in wooden boxes I picked up at a grocery store in town. All our stuff arrived a week later and I have been up here ever since.
On June 16th 1984 I married Sue and we bought our first house in Somersworth on 17 Third Street. It was an old house built in 1921 and we did a lot of work on it our selves. Of course my insulators were moved from my parents house to a small down stairs bedroom officially named my "insulator room." My insulator collection grew and so did the shelves I built. I would be out every chance I could get to dig and search for insulators. In The summer of 1985, Sue and I would start an annual trip of going down to Pennsylvania to go flea marketing and camping around the Pottsville - Reading area. Many goodies were brought back to that little house of ours.
In the summer of 1987, Sue and I sold our house in Somersworth and bought a new house in Rochester on 14 Sunrise Drive. I quickly laid clam as to where my insulator room would be which was the basement of our raised ranch house. That room was transformed into wall-to-wall shelves and after a few years began to run out of room.
Our trips to Pennsylvania continued and in 1990 we bought a pop-up camper to make our trips down there better. We brought a lot of insulators home packed away inside. On October 1st, 1993, our daughter Maurisa was born. When she learned to walk she started to participate in our flea market adventures and three sets of eyes searching are always better than two. We also started collecting antique eyecups. We currently have over 200 cups.
In the fall of 1999 we put our house up for sale and rented a condo about 2 miles from our former home. We were looking to move to Pennsylvania and it would be easier to do without a house and my daughter didn't go to school yet. My insulators were boxed up and placed in storage. I continued to collect and as I found or bought new insulators boxed them up for storage. The 25-foot pole I erected with four cross arms stayed behind as a sentential of the insulator collector who had once lived there.
Well moving to Pennsylvania did not materialize and my daughter started school, Pennsylvania would wait until later in life. In the summer of 2001, Sue and I bought a new large colonial house in the neighboring town of Milton. This is the kind of house we have always wanted and plenty of room for insulators and family. The basement would be the new Phantom of the Wires storage room. In 2003 I erected another 25-foot pole in the back yard. The pole has five cross arms displaying the jewels of glass and porcelain. If you're driving by you can see it towering above the back yard. I added a 70-watt sodium light for security. Though we have been there for almost three years, my insulator room is in the works. Sue and I worked on painting and added our touches to this house; the insulator room was put on hold. I designed and built new shelving to display both glass and porcelain. The shelves would be lit up from the back and the same shelf could be used for porcelain but the lights would be placed in the front as to shine light on the porcelain. The lights would be concealed and the shelves painted white to reflect light and bring out true color. By the fall of 2004, I should have my insulators displayed again. Boy, I miss looking at them. Some times I go down stairs just to look at the boxes they are stored in just to remember.
My best friend Steve does not collect any more and lives in another part of the U.S., but the Phantom of the Wires is alive and well in the Northeast. I am my own insulator entity and I call myself PHANTOM of the WIRES. I have been collecting 30 years and there are some really nice people who share this wonderful hobby.
My insulator specialties are Star insulators, and CD152's. I love them all but Stars and CD152's are affordable and plenty variations of them around. The CD152 insulator has a neat history about them being manufactured from 1910 -1922, before the Hemingray 42. It is hard to stick to a specialty collection. If I don't have it in my collection, then we need to get one, with in reason.
June 2004, my wife and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. I would marry her all over again. We have had fun over the years finding insulators and eyecups, and hopefully, God willing, will have another twenty years of the same.
If you're in the area and want to see my collection give me a call. My address, phone number and e-mail address are in the directory. My collection is around 2000 pieces and when my room is done I will be able to rest. I enjoy going out looking for insulators especially in the wild. It is so much fun to go out and with some searching dig them or rescue them off a pole or building. I Like collecting both glass and porcelain insulators. If you don't get the directory my address is:
32 Dames Brook Drive
Milton, NH 03851-4705