By Mike Steely

For more than 50 years my wife and I have been collecting things. As a reporter and an advertising representative we’ve moved around a lot, visited every state except Alaska, and we’ve collected mementos of places such as cups, photos, postcards and buttons.

Not sewing buttons but buttons from places, events, slogans and politicians. I recently posted a photo of my wife dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Behind her was one of the button collections and those buttons got some comments on Facebook.

So, here’s some button history.

When George McGovern was running for president he chose Senator Thomas Eagleton, only to have to replace him on the very unsuccessful campaign. Back then singer John Denver was appearing in a political rally in Johnson City. My wife and I stood in line to meet Denver after the concert and I gave him a McGovern/Eagleton button. He looked at it and said, “It should have been.”

I have a Berry Goldwater button I bought after the former Senator and presidential candidate passed away. I never met him but admired his spunk. I have an Eisenhower/Nixon button and was fortunate to have seen President Eisenhower when he was campaigning for re-election when he visited Kentucky. I stood in dress uniform at the Eisenhower funeral, holding the door for the U. S. Senate members.

We saw Senator Hubert Humphrey as he addressed a meeting in Louisville, Ky. and I’ve chatted briefly with Senator Lamar Alexander.

Granted our collection tilts more to one party than the other but we have buttons from both parties. One of my favorite buttons says “Re-elect Senator Howard Baker” whom I have always admired.

We have buttons from tourist attractions, places like Gatlinburg and Hollywood, and buttons for causes like Women’s Rights. We have buttons from the World Trade Center visitor center, the White House, The Virgin Islands, Canada and a “Mind the Gap” button from London..

Other buttons include one from Alcatraz, Brushy Mountain Prison, and Alcatraz East. I have a smaller collection pinned on two big neck ties that features local political campaigns for congress, the state house and senate and even local county and city candidates.

Just about any time we go to flea markets or yard sales I am on the watch for buttons I don’t have, especially those of places or people I had met or visited.

My wife has accused me of also collecting ball caps. I took a peek at my hat rack and the top of the bedroom closet and, I must admit, she’s right. So I teased her of collecting red shoes and purses.

I also collect history books about our region and state and books written by friends and folks I know. I collect any book written by my friend, Bill Landry of the Heartland Series, and by fellow treasure hunting friends who write on that subject.

And, oh yea, I collect U. S. Coast Guard items like lighthouses, emblems, figurines, and such.

I guess my wife and I have other collections like graduation certificates for our sons and grandchildren, awards and recognitions, membership certificates, news stories about us, relatives or people we know. I’m also collecting genealogy of my family and my wife has her genealogy and family history complete.

I feel like I’m reluctantly collecting power tools from our home, a holiday home we sold, and our two sons who have left tools here. I told my wife I think I have four power drills, three sanders, two pool pumps and six power saws.

I could go on and on but I’m wondering now what you collect? You can email me at The Focus at I’d like to hear from you about your collection. It’s a mania, isn’t it?