From Work to Play
It was a typical sticky, humid northeast Ohio afternoon. My cousin and I were chiseling and re-tucking mortar joints on a factory building in Chardon. The grit from the old mortar was sticking to the sweat beads on our arms and faces. It was time for a break.
From our scaffold perch, we shared small talk as we gazed at the industrial landscape below. In a dumpster beneath us, stuffed with scrap metal, I spotted something interesting.
“Hey Shawn,” I asked and pointed, “Is that one of those Coleman lanterns?”
Mind you, I had never had the chance to experience one of these burning beauties up close in my youth. They were far too dangerous for a child to be around. Besides, camping was not something my parents particularly enjoyed, so we did not go very often.
I scaled down the scaffolding, reached into the rusty receptacle, and pulled the lantern out by its dirty green vent. I studied it for a brief moment before I uttered the words that started it all:
“These have to be fixable…..right?”
And so began a hobby that has covered the better part of a decade, introduced me to friends, and taken me to places I would have never been otherwise.
And so it began…
That night, I decided to do an internet search on this type of lantern. Within minutes, I had found an international forum dedicated to the collecting, repair, and restoration of Coleman appliances. The members here, from all over the world, seemed to claw at the chance to help folks fix their finds. I was on my way.
From that one very common model of Coleman lantern salvaged from a dumpster, my collection has swelled to include several dozen appliances of many makes and models. I have discovered fellow collectors from all over the world, and right in my back yard. A handful of us from the northeastern part of the continent formed a regional group that gathers frequently in Hannibal, New York. We also formed our own internet forum for collectors from our region to more closely communicate with each other. So far, it has certainly been an exciting ride.
So next comes the fun part—what have I got?
Well, as my wife could attest to, that could take several articles, so I will share with you a few of my favorites.
First in my fleet is my grandfather’s 1949 Coleman model 228D. The tank, or ‘fount’, was originally nickel plated, but had worn so much that I chose to take it down to the brass. This lantern has sparked many memories of outdoor adventures from my father and uncles.
One of my earliest lanterns is this Akron Lamp Company Model 103. It dates back to somewhere in the late 1910’s and is fully operational.
This Prentiss Wabers single burner stove was manufactured for use in World War II. During the war, these were known as ‘pocket stoves’ and were highly coveted by GI’s for cooking, making coffee, and warming up fox holes.
My rarest lantern to date is this Brooklure 5035. It was manufactured in the late 1930’s by Turner Brass Works for the Spiegel Company. It is a very heavy lantern, and what makes this especially rare is that it has never been lit or even fueled up.
If you are interested in learning more, or have a lantern you would like me to take a look at, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Now it is your turn—what is your hobby? Send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a description of what you like to do for fun, and you may be published in a future edition of ‘Reader’s Hobbies’!