This fall has been incredible. We took the trip of a lifetime out west and I saw 22 states in 5 weeks, went to Mt. Rushmore, The Badlands, The Mammoth Site, Wall Drug, The Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Craters of the Moon, Yellowstone, saw Old Faithful erupt, hiked the Colorado mountains, visited ghost towns, and more I'm forgetting I'm sure. Then I went home, repacked, and took off to West Virginia.
I arrived at Ron's house Thursday afternoon, way down a narrow country road in the beautiful countryside. I got a tour of his collection and got to see the salesman sample case and lots of other amazing stuff. I met Ron and Griff in person finally, and then I headed to the hotel to rest up from the long drive. The next day, Ron and Nola picked us up (JP and I stayed at the same hotel across the river in Ohio) and we ate breakfast at Shoney's took us to see the Jackson marble factory, The site where Cairo Novelty used to stand, The old Heaton factory, and Glass Hollow in Pennsboro where Alley and Champion used to be. Then we went to see Roger and Claudia's private collection and wowsers! Talk about Akro heaven! I was able to buy some original packaging Masters from them, and we headed back to the hotel and I went to bed knowing I had to be up early for a long day of digging the next day but I couldn't fall asleep until 2am
Saturday morning I got up at 5am and headed to Cairo for the Heaton dig. They had a fire pit burning for us (it was 27 degrees) and coffee brewing! We started digging at daybreak and stayed with it until dark. I got to meet more marble friends including John Snyder, David Tamulevich (not sure I spelled that right), Steve and Rheta Ertz, Dave Akers, and others. I met an old man by the name of Wayne Haugh who worked at Heaton back when he was a teenager. He told the story of how he lost his class ring in the tank during that time. Be on the lookout for a gold metallic Heaton! As we wrapped it up for the day, I talked to the property owner about the contents of the building. There was a lot of interesting stuff still there and he told me it should have already been demolished but the building was too tough and still standing. I salvaged part of the glass tank, the covers for the hole where the cullet was shoveled in, some tank orifices, and the furnace temperature chart recorder. I also saved all the company records and paperwork that I could find that was worth saving. Also lots of bag headers. I found payroll information, purchase orders for sand, marbles from Vitro, sales slips for Rust-o-luem and other paint companies for rattle can marblles, etc... and lots of cancelled checks. Who knows what cool information I might uncover going through all that. Most if not all of the paper ephemera is from the Bogard company, after they bought Heaton. The bag headers are heaton.
The next day I think we all slept in late to recover from the dig, then I headed over to Ron's and we started washing marbles. I washed some of mine but my wife Val loves to clean dirty marbles as much as I do or more, so I kept the majority of them dirty. One of the ones I washed was voted best find of the dig, I'll get pics made up of it soon. Griff took off later in the afternoon but John, Nola, Ron, and I took off to see the Ravenswood factory. I mentioned to John how I wished I could get my hands on some Ravenswood cullet. Funny how that worked out because then we drove to Gino's for some Italian and while we were sitting there talking and eating, a woman came up and said, "Excuse me, but did I hear you guys talking about marbles?" We said yes and she said, "Well, I'm the owner of the Ravenswood factory!" We said wow, we just left there, taking a look at it! She said, "Do any of you like cullet?" and everyone pointed straight at me while I raised my hand. She said, "Nobody leave until I get back". She left her husband in the booth and took off and later returned with a box of stuff they dug from their property. It includes a 3/4" ravenswood and two broken ravenswood swirls with yellow! Lots of cullet too. I got my wish! I tell you, things just fell in place to make this trip the best it could ever have been.
Later we went back to Ron's and spent the evening looking at marbles and talking about marbles and marble people and the crazy stuff that goes on at shows and JABO. Nola gave in sometime after midnight and headed home to bed. The rest of us talked until nearly 3am. We called it a night and I went back to the hotel appreciating the really great friends I made.
Now I'm home, strange to be back at work after being off for over 5 weeks. I have lots of stuff to go through from the trip though, and we've been washing some of the marbles (one at a time to make it last as long as possible lol). Be on the lookout for photos of the dug marbles! Here are some pics:
The Jackson factory as it looks now
What's left of the Champion Agate factory
Glass Factory Hollow Pennsboro. You can see some of what's left of the Alley factory in the back
The Alley Agate factory remains
The inside of the only remaining Alley building, soon to be demolished
The mixer Alley used for their batch glass sitting in someone's yard
The site where Cairo Novelty used to sit
Griff at the Heaton dig site next to my buckets and shovels
Wayne Haugh, former Heaton employee in 1951. They are looking in a book I found that shows worker's names and hours they worked every day for several years.
Steve and Rheta Ertz digging next to me
Nola on the left digging
The ground at Heaton
The remaining Heaton building and some of the machinery still under it
Ron digging cateyes under the slab
Ron showing JP and I how the cateye injector works
The big 440 volt fan Heaton used to keep cool as they could. The story was told that the night shift would toss handfuls of marbles at this fan and they would blast across the neighborhood and they had to replace windows as a result.
Ron, Nola, Griff, and John washing their marbles and picking out the stunners
The Ravenswood factory
Paper ephemera from the factory
The furnace temp recorder
The glass tank outlet
The tank orifice cups and how they would have fit against the tank outlet
The cover where the workers would have shoveled cullet into the top of the tank
Heavy stapled box from heaton that would have held 25 lbs of green swirls. I dug enough green swirls to put a false top in this box and make it look like it's a full box for display. Still got heaton dirt on my boots lol
A tub of dirt full of glass and marbles for us to go through later at home