Happy Valentine's Day Debbie!
In the summer of 1968 my family moved to a new home in Sunol, California. The house had a built in barbecue in the backyard made of brick. On the ledge above the barbecue were three glass items left behind by the previous owners of the house. I asked my dad what they were and he explained that they came off of telephone poles. This was the beginning of my insulator collection. There were two CD 162 Stars in aqua and a CD 133 Star in yellow green.
I walked to school in those days and crossed two sets of railroad tracks enroute. The first set of tracks had an old line that ran along the tracks between Pleasanton and Fremont. The poles had four or five cross arms mounted on square poles. I found a lot of insulators as I chased snakes and lizards in the grass along those tracks. The neatest thing I found in that area was a CD 152 California in sun-colored amethyst.
In 1972 my family moved to Hollister, California and I began scouting the lines in that part of the state. As fate would have it, one of my best friends in Pop Warner Football had an uncle who owned the local flower shop and a beautiful collection of colored glass insulators. He told me about Crown Jewels and I became a subscriber. During those years I expanded my collection to about 100 insulators. The neatest insulator I found was a CD 133 H.G.CO. Standard in lime green with white milk swirls. I ordered several insulators from Crown Jewels including a CD 297 No. 16 in olive green ($5.00).
As I transitioned to high school I started working, found out about girls, and forgot about insulators. I eventually graduated and went on to West Point to become an officer in the United States Army. While I was stationed at West Point, my dad took a business trip to Spain and brought back four insulators for me. While relatively common, the shapes were intriguing including a white porcelain Spook. My parents faithfully moved three tired cardboard boxes of insulators with the rest of the family belongings to another home in California, three homes in Pennsylvania, and finally to Wheaton, Illinois.
Time passed and the Army sent me from Georgia to Germany, Germany to Georgia, Georgia to California, and California to Virginia. During this time I met and married my wife Debra. My parents came to visit their grandchildren, Jonathan and Hannah, while I was stationed in Virginia. The car they had driven appeared weighted down as they pulled into the driveway. I helped my dad unload the suitcases, and there in the trunk were the three dog-eared boxes that I had packed up back in 1975.
I ordered the 1991 Price Guide and sat down with my wife to examine the riches that awaited us in those boxes. I was sad to discover that the only two casualties from all of those moves had been a carnival glass sombrero and the CD 297 in olive green. As we unwrapped each piece, the conversation went from me saying, "Boy, I bet this one is worth some money!," to Debra answering, "Yeah, x1!" Our final tally was something under $300.00 by the 1991 Price Guide, but the genie was out of the bottle. I was back in the insulator hobby for good.
Since that time, the Army has moved me from Virginia to Kansas, Kansas to Washington, and Washington back to Virginia. Debra and I have had a third child, Genevieve and my insulator collection hovers around 450. As I move around the country I search antique shops, flea markets, bottle shows, and any local insulator activities for new additions.
I collect many different specialties to include McLaughlin�s, Brown�s Ponies, Radio Strains, Colored Porcelain and Glass, and Lightning Rod Insulators. I like the low end of the hobby, and will always have time for new collectors and children. I guess the best way to describe my approach is with an example. If I ever find a rare insulator ($1,000+) I will immediately sell it so that I can buy all of the $5 - $20 insulators that I want. I love to talk about insulators so drop me a line via e-mail!
Written by Gus Stafford,
Last updated Tuesday, June 17, 1997
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