Older Than Dirt: The Collectors

It seems that just about everything is collectible these days, from blue-glass to frogs to tie tacks. Everyone is collecting something.

I recently went to a yard sale here in Kingman, and the family was selling a "collection" of bears. There were teddy bears, panda bears and just all sizes and breed of bears. Everything from bear key chains to bear earrings, bear sweatshirts and bear caps. I like bears, but frankly don't see myself collecting them.

I do admit that I used to collect anything that was basset hound. I had two bassets for 14 years. When people could not think of what to get me for my birthday or Christmas, they knew anything basset would work. Over the years I had everything from "Basset Crossing" signs to basset pens and note paper. Oh yeah, I also had several basset T-shirts, key chains and a cookie jar.

When I was a kid I remember my grandpa used to collect stuff - mostly rubber bands and bus transfers. I never knew why he needed so many rubber bands, but then again I figured he was old enough to have a darn good reason. My mother couldn't figure out what he was planning to do with the bus transfers. They had dates and times on them, so when could he ever use them?

Most of us know someone who collects dolls, license plates, knick knacks, elephant statues, lighthouse pictures or some kind of stuff. They could have started gathering these things while they were still children. Or they could have inherited the stuff from one of their family members.

There are those out there who truly believe that if you hang onto something long enough, it will become valuable! Sometimes this is true, but more often it is just not the case. (This can also apply to husbands and wives.)

I hung on to my first son's Star Wars toys for more years than I care to remember. Then, all of a sudden, Star Wars made a comeback and reproduced every toy I had been hanging onto! Since most of the new toys were exactly the same as the first editions, they were worth very little. They certainly weren't collectibles.

I had a couple of Nestle's mugs that my friend and I got in the late '60s. I hung onto those mugs for nearly 50 years! One day, just out of curiosity, I looked them up on E-Bay. They were selling online for $5 each - hardly worth caring for them for 50 years.

My brother used to collect frogs. Over the years he had just about everything frog you could imagine. In fact, at one point he had a frog room in his house. It was adorable, but not too practical. After retiring, he downsized his frogs quite a bit. One of my favorites was a lawn ornament near his driveway that read, "Frog parking only ... Others will be toad!"

Collecting things can be fun if you don't get too crazy. I have seen people on television that say they are collectors, when in reality they just don't throw ANYTHING away! There are neighborhoods right here in Kingman where people seem to collect trash! Their yards are overflowing with stuff! They have a yard sale every week and nothing leaves! They just keep getting more stuff!

And what about your neighbor who seems to be collecting old cars? Don't we all enjoy having our morning coffee outside and the view of the auto wrecking yard next door? I am certain that they are full of good intentions. They will restore them and sell them, SOME DAY!

It is nice to collect things as long as you keep it in perspective. When you enjoy looking at what you have, and perhaps sharing those things with your loved ones, it often does become a family affair. Hopefully, someone in the family will care for your collectibles when you are gone.

If they are not already collecting their own stuff.

Some people think that having "things" around, makes them happy. I think it may just be the memories that those things often generate.

If your collecting is more trouble than it's worth, perhaps it is time to dust things off and give them to your local thrift store. There is probably someone out there who would just love your collection as much as you have.

Then again, they may just divide them up with other family members who really don't want them either.