Politics over the decades
January 19, 2012
Gardnerville resident Chuck Diets claims he’s not an active collector, but the walls in his garage tell a different story.
Diets has a collection of political buttons, posters and newspapers numbering in the thousands. A portion of his collection is on display for the first time in the Carson City Library through January.
“I have a three-car garage with 13-foot high walls and the whole thing is covered in memorabilia,” Diets said. “I don’t know why I keep going. I’m not an active collector, but I can’t get away from it.”
The 68-year-old retired salesman began collecting political items during the 1952 Eisenhower Republican convention when he became interested in politics.
Since then he has added new items every election year.
This year’s finds include a Jon Huntsman T-shirt and bumper sticker, a Rick Perry bumper sticker and yard sign and a Herman Cain yard sign.
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The oldest piece in his collection is a 1901 Chicago Tribune newspaper about the assassination of President William McKinley.
“It was one of the few pieces my grandmother collected,” Diets said.
He was quick to answer when asked if he had any favorite items.
The first is a bumper sticker with a character drawing of Bill and Hillary Clinton which has the words, “Dual Airbags” on it. The second favorite is his invitation to the Ronald Reagan Library opening in 1991.
“I think the world of the Clinton’s even though I’m a Republican,” Diets said. “It catches my funny bone every time I see it.”
Diets used to procure his pieces at fairs and carnivals and other public events. Nowadays, he visits the offices of presidential candidates.
“Sometimes I’m lucky and sometimes I’m not,” he said. “It used to be free, but now they all seem to want money so they charge you.”
Along with political memorabilia, Diets also boasts a large collection of beer steins, California lottery signs and credit cards.
“I collect a lot of stuff,” Diets said. “It just comes natural for some reason. I don’t know why.”
His collector’s bug didn’t stop with him though. His daughter, Jennifer Mason, collects rubber ducks and his 17-year-old granddaughter, Kelsie, collects anything Marilyn Monroe.
“I definitely picked this up from my dad,” Jennifer said. “It’s something I enjoy.”
However, Diets wife of 45 years, Francine, is not a collector.
When the couple moved to Gardnerville in 2004, she was adamant that his collection be relegated to the garage, and one room in the house.
“It’s good for him to do it,” she said. “It keeps him out of my hair.”
The display in the Carson City Library has about 250 items with an equal amount from both political parties and some of the funnier pieces as well.
“I enjoy having other people see it,” Diets said. “There’s a lot of history here.”
When Andrea Moore, programming outreach manager for the library learned of Diets collection, she thought it would be a good display during the political season.
“The historic pieces are just phenomenal,” she said. “It’s fun to watch people walk by and remember candidates they might have voted for the first time they voted.”
Wanting to downsize, Diets is putting his collection up for sale in its entirety.
For more information, call Diets at 783-1422.
The Carson City Library is located at 900 Roop Street. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday and Saturday.