The Collector – Exercise #19

First off I would like to apologize to all who read my blog as soon as it comes out. I have discovered that the quickest and easiest way to proofread anything I have written is to just hit the “publish” button. Same probably works with email. As soon as you make the work public you will begin to notice all the small spelling errors, incorrect word choices, and mixtures of tense. I try to go back and correct these as quickly as possible, but those of you who get immediate notice of the posting or are Johnny-on-the-spot and read it as soon as I post it online will get to see all my gory and glorifying errors. Really quite shameful. Especially for an English major. We all know that spellcheckers and other such grammar tools cannot find all little errors. It takes time, it takes reflection on what you wrote, and  it takes rereading with a keen eye and ear. None of that seems to happen until I hit the publish button.

Catherine CollageWell, enough of that apologizing and self flagellation. Today’s exercise, number nineteen of thirty-one, is something that is near and dear to my heart, something that drives those who live with me nuts, for today I am asked to describe, “what do you collect?” That is both a dangerous and a broad subject.  We can start with the fact that I am a collector of all things involving around British cars. Not just the cars themselves you understand, but books about the cars, emblems from the cars, models of the cars, publicity posters, videos of the cars and car races, well I think you get the idea. Basically if I run across almost anything that has to do with old British cars I will collect it and try to find some spot for it in my home or office. The more esoteric the better.

If that’s not enough on the large side, I am also a train and trolley collector. Unfortunately I have no actual prototype real-size trains or trolleys (not that I haven’t tried), so I have to make up for that by collecting the same tonnage in model trains. Next week in fact I will be at the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) convention in Atlanta for four days. My wife is going with me, and boy is she thrilled. And as is inevitable with a collection like this, not only do I collect the model trains and track and scenery and buildings that all go together to create a scene, I also collect the aforementioned books, movies, posters, belt buckles, and anything else you can think of that has to do railroading.

And lest you think I can be normal about collecting something as mundane as trains, my main interest in lies in the middle areas of England, Southern railroads of the US in the 1930s and 40s, and early southern American streetcars and trolleys. People usually think of these streetcars as just they see in New Orleans, but they used to run in almost every decent sized city including the main streets of downtown Charleston.

Finally on a broader note, I am incurable book collector. I have hundreds if not thousands of books on various subjects and of various ages. And no, I am not content to just collect any old paperback reading copy of these books, I have first editions, leather bound editions, and signed editions. As my wife would say, anything that would make a book more expensive  draws me to collecting it. I have everything from first editions of Charles Dickens all the way up to inscribed copies of books by Neil Gaiman, Carl Hiaasen, Pat Conroy, an Anne Rice. My primary book collections are in fiction, automotive and rail, but I also have religious works, art book, and even autographed sports books.

Outside of those three main areas, I do have a few odd little other collections. More like gatherings I might say. I have Doctor Who figurines in my office, and more cigars than I would ever hope to smoke. In the kitchen at home I have  nice stash of rum, beer glasses, and limited edition Madiera. Oh, and did I forget the pens? And now that I have one classic typewriter, I just may need to have a few more.

My collections make me happy, but they can be dangerous things. Not only do they absorb a lot of time and money, they also take up space. And I really, really do not want to be called in to be on an upcoming episode of Hoarders.