Let me say right off that a guy who can put his hands on his grade school Valentines and almost every negative he’s shot since 1959, doesn’t have much room to wiggle when it comes to talking about what someone else collects.
Passenger Jan and I were blasting down the backroads of Ohio on our way to Old Man’s Cave when she spotted what looked like a welcome and information center. We did a quick U-turn and headed back.
One of the things I like about rural areas is that you can do things like U-turns and stop in the middle of the road if you want to take a picture.
Jan, a Florida native, wasn’t used to roads that curve and have deep dropoffs. About half her early postings were that she feared she was going to die in a crash or, worse yet, go flying over a cliff Thelma and Louise-style to meet her end in a ball of fire and/or freeze to death because nobody would find us until around March 15, when the buzzards would pass over on their way to Hinkley, Ohio.
People here drive, they don’t AIM their car
“Jan,” I explained patiently, “people outside of Florida learn to DRIVE their vehicle, not POINT it. Florida puts guard rails on perfectly straight stretches of road if there is a canal within 300 feet. Up here, you can have a 300-foot dropoff at the edge of the shoulder and it’s assumed that you are going to keep the car on the road because if you DON’T, there’s a 300-foot dropoff at the edge of the shoulder.”
She eventually quit whimpering. Or, maybe I just got to where I tuned it out.
So, back to the Pencil Museum
The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum, which might measure roughly 10′ x 20′, is located on the grounds of the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center at 13178 State Route 664 South, Logan, Ohio, 43138. It is open to the public for free Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can find out more at the center’s website.
It does NOT take you long to go through it unless you REALLY appreciate pencil sharpeners.
No puns or word play
First off, I am going to write this without any cheap puns because the walls of the place are covered with newspaper stories writers and editors tried to make “clever” and “cute” with bad puns and plays on words. I won’t do that, not because I don’t like puns and silly word play, but because some topics are too easy. This is one of them.
I have that camera
I have that camera pencil sharpener on the shelf in my office. I think Wife Lila may have given it to me. When Paul Johnson’s wife gave him a couple of sharpeners for a Christmas present after he retired in 1988, it triggered a dormant sharpener collecting gene. Before long, he had more than 3,400 of the things in all shapes, kinds, colors and subjects.
I showed more restraint. Besides, I liked mechanical pencils that didn’t need grinding.
Wife donated collection
When Paul died in 2010, his wife, Charlotte, donated his collection to the welcome center. (You can click on any photo to maker it larger.)
I bet you’ll recognize something
The odds are pretty good that you’ve owned at least one of his collection. In addition to the camera, I saw the old-fashioned plastic pencil boxes that had a sharpener built in that we used in grade school. He arranged his art objects by category.
Used to give them away
Early news reports said Paul would give away his duplicates to visitors. All of the ones on display now are supposed to be unique.
Plenty of color
Some of the colors are eye-catchingly, garishly blinding.
The Museum isn’t somewhere I’d go miles out of my way to visit, but it’s worth a stop if you want to kill a few minutes. The workers at the welcome center are friendly and the restrooms are clean. What more can you ask for? That’s the point of it, right?
Darn! I ALMOST made it without using any puns.