Southsider Voice correspondent
Some people collect a lot of a certain something. Others dabble in collecting a small amount of one thing or another. And some people are drawn to a mix between expected collectibles and collectibles that border on creepy.
Don Wilson of Greenwood fits into that category of having an eye for the predictable collectible as well as an interest in the highly unusual.
Some of his collections are completely tame, such as dozens of Hot-wheels cars, primarily Cadillacs and stacks of a specific type of comic book.
While a white rescue cat named Charlie investigates, Wilson takes a seat on the carpet to show off another special collectible, a large antique tea box filled with photographs of people he doesn’t know.
“My grandma gave me this box,” Wilson said as he rifled through the contents. “It is filled with lots of old pictures and letters and all kinds of cool stuff.”
Across the room, several bookshelves are lined with Grateful Dead dancing bears. No longer manufactured, the psychedelic plush bears are named for the famous band’s sound man, nicknamed Bear.
But on the weird side of what a guy wants to collect is Wilson’s 1940s gas mask from East Germany.
“I got this in a military surplus store in Mitchell,” he said with a grin. “The mask has a weird little canister that attaches to it. But when you attach it to the mask, you can’t breathe.”
He also points out several military helmets.
“This is a Soviet-made and Warsaw-packed French helmet from World War II,” Wilson said as he removed the specific helmet from a shelf. “It came from a warehouse in Bulgaria.”
Other items, such as a Swedish canteen, a British helmet and an American helmet, share space on the display shelf.
Motivated occasionally by boredom, Wilson, who works at Center Grove Middle School North, likes to pick something to collect. Maybe he will add to the collections he has already started. Maybe he will decide to collect something totally different.
Along with miniature cars and teddy bears, George Wallace political pins and a Center Grove Booster button from 1975, animals also age well in this house.
Denver, Wilson’s 15-year-old dog, is blind and stiff with arthritis. Very gently, Wilson carries his buddy off the deck these days to do his business.
Along with young Charlie, there is also Tabitha, a 19-year-old feline with a bad attitude. She has so much attitude as a matter of fact, that she is the sole resident of the enclosed back porch.
“Tabby is really mean and nasty,” Wilson said with a grin. “She tries to bite so she lives there alone.”