Media Life appears Fridays in the Auburn Journal

Auburn’s wild, wacky collections could get their fair due

Piano concert in line for bigger venue; Cave man to rock burger joint
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The California State Fair is making an early call-out to people with what they would deem to be “weird, wild and wacky collections.” Their examples are a tad off the wall but then again, when the theme of next year’s fair in Sacramento is “Weird, Wild & Wacky West,” well, you get the picture. They’re upping the quirk factor a notch or three. Fair CEO Norb Bartosik, who lives in Newcastle, said no collection is too big or too small. “Anything unusual is open for consideration,” Bartosik said. “But we want to display the very strangest collections of stuff we can find.” Some examples? The fair’s list includes unique bobbleheads, air-sick bags, toilet seats, lawnmowers, fishing tackle, jackalopes or belly-button lint. Check out the fair Web site at, e-mail your ideas to or phone (916) 263-3045. And in case you’re wondering, that prized Brad Pitt bellybutton lint you’re holding onto to hand down to the kids will be displayed in an indoor, secure, air-conditioned facility. STRIKING HOBBY Speaking of collections, longtime E.V. Cain Middle School teacher Mike Prero was a prominent part of an article earlier this month in the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune Review on matchbook collecting. Prero, one of the nation’s top collectors in the hobby, is editor of the Rathcamp Matchcover Society Bulletin. The society is the largest – 640 members – and oldest – started in 1940 – matchcover collection groups in the world. It’s easy to get started, notes Prero. Go to any swapfest and there will be hundreds or thousands of covers heaped on tables and free for the taking.” Matches are removed by collectors for safety. GETTING BIGGER Following up on the Bob Milne ragtime piano concert in Auburn late last month, it looks as if the Auburn Education Foundation benefit will have to find an even larger location next year if this year’s audience size was any indication. Media Life counted close to 120 seats filled after the move to the larger Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalist Church from the downtown Arts Building. Milne has built his audience over the last three years and, judging from the amount of applause, will be welcomed back next year by an even bigger group. The question now is where the more spacious setting should be? My Media Life spies say that could be the newly vacated State Theater space. And, last we heard, Old State Theater owner Teresa Cote, owner of the projection equipment and trademark on the moniker, is still looking in Auburn for a new location. ROCK UPDATE With In-N-Out Burger’s expanded parking lot in Auburn completed, the question begs, “Where’s that plaque?” From the early planning stages of the parking lot, Hawver scholar Gene Lorance has been working with the privately held burger business to ensure the memory of the former owner of the property would be remembered at the site. J.C. Hawver’s house was torn down in October to make way for the larger lot. A dentist and amateur paleontologist who discovered a fossil-rich cave in Cool, he lived on the property from 1880 to his death in 1914. The cars are now flowing through the expanded drive-through lane and Lorance said the In-N-Out powers that be have decided to take a different route on what had originally been envisioned as a plaque. Lorance said plans now are for a large boulder to be positioned at the site with a picture and information on Hawver engraved into the rock. The idea of the plaque lost steam as the cost of metals skyrocketed and thefts became more common, Lorance said. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or call (530) 852-0232.