Unusual collector's items recall a simpler time - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Unusual collector's items recall a simpler time

When a man wearing a "utilikilt" offers to show you his fire plugs, naturally you want to have a look.

"This is my baby. It's from the San Francisco Fire Department, Risdon Iron Works and I don't know if it was made for the Risdon Iron Works or if Risdon Iron Works manufactured it for the city of San Francisco," says Jamie Brewer, showing off his prized possessions. "Risdon was in business until 1910, and I'd like to say this was in service for the ‘06 earthquake." 

Brewer is a collector. But at first glance, the things he collects are not things most people would think of as treasures. 

"The Holly Hydrant right there, that was made in my hometown Lockport, New York. Birdsill Holly invented the fire hydrant principle and my hometown was the first city to have a fire protected system using his patented fire hydrants," he explains. 

So he knows all about fire hydrants. What about bricks?

"In the Ohio Valley, where the shale was just right, was where they made the bulk of the paver brick, although they made them in Birmingham, too. I've got a mess of Graves Pavers that were made in Birmingham," Brewer says. 

Sidewalk bricks were specially made so when they got wet, you would still have traction and they wouldn't be quite so slippery.

 Brewer has been a collector almost all his life. 

"I first started collecting old phonographs and stuff when I was 12 years old," he recalls. "My mom and dad thought I was crazy because it was stuff they grew up with and it was junk to them." 

He now has one-of-a-kind victrolas, music boxes and even an electric banjo.

Now back to the "utilikilt." It's part kilt, part work pants and as the pictures of his ancestors attest, it's a family tradition. And people do notice. 

"Every now and then, you'll get people saying something derogatory. But you learn to have a thick skin about it and I'm at the age where I don't care," he notes. 

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the fast-paced world of technology, people like Jamie Brewer can bring you back to a simpler time and show you just how far we've come.

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