Tigard man is king of the collectibles
Gerald Barron is a collector. Of what? It might be easier to list the things he doesnt collect.
Gerald Barrons home doesnt look much like the houses on either side of his quiet Tigard neighborhood.
With its brick façade, quaint cottage feel and authentic red British phone booth out front, it would be more at home in the English countryside than his street near Metzger.
For years, Barrons house was known for the large double-decker bus parked outside.
It was a landmark, says Barron, 79. Now the neighbors say, Were by the phone booth.
Inside Barrons house is his true pride and joy. He calls it his collection.
Its just fun
Barron is a collector of, well, just about everything.
I collect phone booths, double-decker buses, M&Ms, toys, pedal cars, you name it, he says.
His living room, kitchen, dining area and stairwell are covered in M&Ms memorabilia.
Theyve taken over my drain board, and I cant put plants on the windowsill anymore, Barron says, taking a tour of his living room and kitchen, which is crowded with giant plastic M&Ms candy characters. Theyre on the fridge; theyve taken over the walls and the floors.
Everywhere you look are small round creatures, each brightly colored and emblazoned with the famous M insignia of M&Ms candies.
You name it, Barrons got it.
The anthropomorphic candy dispensers, phones and figurines dance, sing and talk at the push of a button.
Its a collection Barron has been accruing for several years. He says he isnt sure about a final tally, but he estimates he has about 1,000 separate pieces of M&Ms merchandise.
Its just fun, Barron says. It gives me something to do. Now, when I go on a trip, instead of looking at the Eiffel Tower, Im looking for M&Ms.
But M&Ms are only the latest of Barrons obsessions.
Toys, toys, toys, Barron says, as he steps into a room filled with glass cases of model cars.
This is what I do, he says, gesturing at his rows and rows of model cars. I dont have a favorite. Theyre all my favorites.
Hundreds of cars of all shapes and sizes are on display, along with small model busses, miniature London phone booths and other items. The floor is littered with childrens pedal cars he has about 25 of them, he says.
And Im looking for another one, he says.
The pedal cars often come worn and battered from years of abuse, but Barron says he enjoys fixing them up, finding parts and getting them back to their original beauty.
Its great fun, he says, examining a few of the large cars on his living room floor.
And thats not all. Not on display are 43 cartons of toys he has stored away, he says.
When you find something, its a real treasure, Barron says. The trouble with M&Ms is that Ill think Ive got it but maybe I dont, so I get it and then Ive got a duplicate.
So with all these collections, the question remains: Why?
I dont know why I do it, he says. Its just fun. Thats all I can say.
Barron says his love of toys came from his childhood.
I grew up during the Great Depression, Barron says. We didnt have much money and toys, so now whenever I see something I like, I buy it.
He quotes the sign he has hanging in his house.
The only difference between adults and children are the price of the toys, Barron reads. Its very true.
Like all of his collections, Barron says his obsession with M&Ms merchandise started innocently enough.
I bought this one red figure, and when you pull his arm, candy comes out, he says. It was too cute. Then at a thrift store some time later, he began to notice more and more of the toys.
Ive tried to find out how many things M&M makes, I have over 1,000 things, and there are more still out there.
Ive got them all
Barron says he doesnt really eat that much candy, but he finds the colorful M&M dispensers too much fun to pass up.
They move, they play tunes, they talk, theyre movable. They are really, really quite clever, its amazing how they made them and how they work.
But the true start to his collecting craze began about 30 years ago, he says, when his wife bought him an Avon bottle of aftershave in the shape of a Jaguar sport scar.
The company made 78 bottles, each in the shape of a different vehicle.
And Ive got them all, he says, proudly.
From there, Barron moved on to collecting toy cars.
After awhile, Barrons collection became too much, and he began selling parts of his collection.
We were running out of room, he says. I went to a swap meet and sold a ton of toys and made some money, and that meant I could buy more toys.
Before retiring, Barron was director of transportation services for the David Douglas School District near Gresham. He was in charge of the districts fleet of school busses, drivers education vehicles, maintenance vehicles and other modes of transportation.
Barron says he is always on the lookout for the next item in his collection.
I look in thrift stores, antique stores, flea markets, swap meets, he says. If theres a pedal car, Im a sucker, and Ill probably buy them.
In his garage is a 1965 London taxicab, which he can be seen driving at local events.
Its unrestored, just the way I got it, he says.
Despite the impressive collection, Barron says he has never attempted to catalogue the thousands of items he has in his home.
I dont even know how many cars, planes, trains, buses and everything else I have, he says. Its a lot, though.
Barron says the feeling of finding a hidden gem for his collection cant be beat. I really thoroughly enjoy when I find something I dont have. I just yell, Oh man, thats great!
So whats the next big thing Barron has to have?
This is enough, he says. Then he thinks for a moment. Well, I am kinda into Betty Boop stuff, too.Add a comment