My mother collected salt and pepper shakers. Sort of. Mostly she accumulated them so that there would always be something inexpensive that her kids could give her for Christmas. (I believe I was responsible for the little pink pigs and the turnips with the long faces.) I don’t think her collection ever amounted to more than a dozen or so pairs. I have some of them in my kitchen, and they’ve been added to over the years. But I wouldn’t say I collect them.
When I was in first grade, the school crossing guard – a nice old geezer who’d probably be under arrest these days – gave me his collection of match book covers. (Why he singled me out, or how the collection was conveyed, I have no recall. Maybe he gave them to my father, and I was the only kid in the family who wanted them. Maybe the old geezer felt badly that I got stiffed on my birthday that year – no cake – because my mother was bringing my brother home from the hospital that day. These theories are actually less creepy than the thought that the crossing guard wanted me, personally, to have them for some reason other than a stiffed birthday.)
Anyway, all those pages of nicely mounted match book covers – organized by theme (birds, flowers) – are long gone.
So other than those few, those proud, those salt and pepper shakers, I don’t actually collect anything. And I don’t actually know anyone who’s a serious collector of anything other than experience.
Although I am not a collector, I was nonetheless intrigued to read about the collection of the late Roger ‘Bucke'y’ Legried, of Frost, Minnesota, who bequeathed over 100,000 baseball caps his son Scott.
Now, at first blush, the thought of 100,000-plus baseball caps sounds like fun.
Think about it: Old time caps from the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the New York Highlanders. Caps from every Major League Team that ever was. Caps from the Negro Leagues. Caps from the Minor Leagues. Now that is a collection that I could get completely caught up in.
But Mr. Legried, alas, was not a baseball cap collector. As a farm-equipment salesman:
The bulk of Mr. Legried's stash consists of freebies from farm conventions and trade shows. There are no duplicates or toppers with salty language. (Source: WSJ Online.)
Okay. I’m with him on the salty language caps – one time at Fenway Park I sat next to a guy who had a tiny little penis sticking out of his cap. I don’t remember what the salty language was, but I do remember thinking that it probably wasn’t the only tiny little penis he had on him.
But it’s really hard to imagine caps that are more boring than those square-ish, mesh-backed caps that are given out at aggie trade shows. (If you’re wondering what I, as a bona fide city girl, know about agriculturally-related caps: my husband had an aunt and uncle who owned a tobacco farm. By they time I met Jim, they’d converted the farm to a golf course, but there were still plenty of tobacco farms in the neighborhood, and Uncle Bill and his farming neighbors always had some freebie tractor-fertilizer-equipment type of cap on.)
But however boring they are on an individual level, I will say that, when you put them all together, it looks rather jaunty, as you can see from this picture of Buckey with a subset of his collection.
Janet Kubat Willette/Agri News
And what the collection lacks in individual item interest, it certainly picked up in volume. The collection holds the Guinness record for hats.
It’s housed in:
…a garage, a basement and three 42-foot-long semi-tractor trailers at the Legried family farm. A three-ring binder catalogs each cap and its provenance—every John Deere hat from every state is listed, along with a black cap with intricate gold and red beadwork.
Buckey Legried had hoped that the caps would end up in a museum – one of the locations he had his eye on was in Blue Earth, Minnesota, which was already home to a major tourist attraction: a 47-foot high statue of the Jolly Green Giant.
Frost, Minnesota. Blue Earth, Minnesota.
I have to say that other parts of the country have it all over New England – where it’s mostly a combo of British and Indian – when it comes to place names.
Buckey had also hoped to get on the Letterman Show. (You’da thunk an Indiana boy would come through, now, wouldn’t you?)
Looking for a home for the caps has now fallen to Buckey’s son Scott.
It’s conceivable that Blue Earth could come through:
Cindy Lyon, executive director of the Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce, dreams of displaying the hats in a park near the Jolly Green Giant…
In her plan, the hats would share space with the museum of Giant memorabilia, just off a coast-to-coast interstate highway and near other local attractions, such as the Spam Museum in Austin, Minn.
"Why not have it at the Giant park? You wouldn't believe the number of people who come there. We've had 23 countries and every state in the nation this summer," she said.
One problem: it’s estimated that ten foot high racks would have to extend for half a mile to hold the entire collection.
Another: while I see the connection between Spam and Green Giant – it’s almost a full, yummy meal – the John Deere caps only connect tangentially.
But here’s hoping, Buckey. My fingers are crossed, and my cap’s off to you.
If I’m ever driving through Blue Earth, Minnesota, I will absolutely be sure to stop..