DJIC History from My Perspective……………………..
By Dudley Ellis
Just like many of you, when I started collecting insulators back in the early 1980s, I thought I was the only crazy person with a passion for them. I was working for the Georgia Department of Transportation as a Maintenance Area Manager in 1980 when I found my first insulators. They were porcelain and came from a cross arm that was stopping up a roadway drainage structure. Through the 1980s I acquired other insulators from along the railroad tracks, flea markets, antique shops and yard sales. By the late 1980s I had amassed twenty or thirty insulators that were displayed on my desk and shelves at work.
A good friend at work specialized in mining collectables. After I made a super find of a rare miner’s lamp for him, he bought me the Milholland’s Most About Glass Insulators and provided me an address for the Crown Jewels of the Wire. I received my first issue of CJOW in February 1988. The doors to the world of insulators were open!!
I read my CJOW each month but I never tried to make contact with other collectors or attend shows. I did not know any local collectors and the shows were always out of state. Anyway more important things stood in the way like paying the mortgage and maintaining a household with a spouse and two children. At this stage of my collecting I had made a promise to myself to pay no more than $4.00 for an insulator. Yes, that promise was broken somewhere over my years of collecting.
My insulator collecting got a boost in mid 1992. One night in May 1992 I received a phone call from Jim Overstreet, another local collector. Jim said that he found me in a list of new subscribers to the CJOW. He had assembled a list of collectors from Georgia and the adjoining states from old insulator directories and CJOW subscriber lists. Collectors on his list were called and invited to attend the first known insulator swap in the Atlanta area. The swap was held on June 9, 1992 at Jim and JoAnn Overstreet’s home. He followed up the telephone call with a mailed invitation. I still have my copy of the invitation for posterity. The collectors that attended the first swap were Jim and JoAnn Overstreet, Dudley Ellis, Jimmy Bray, Paul and Traci Irby, John Glover, Dick Nelson and Steve McBride and friend Marla.
Jimmy Bray had a card table with thirteen very colorful insulators for show and tell that I had never seen before. The deep cornflower blue CD 151 and the cobalt blue CD 162 on the table eventually, over the years, became part of my collection.Jimmy Bray Colorful Insulators
I had a card table for show and tell that included my entire collection of insulators. Most of my collection consisted of clear glass insulators and common porcelain.
Dudley Ellis Collection
Paul Irby had a card table full of various CDs that were for sale.
Paul Irby Sales Table
Dick Nelson displayed two sets of insulator book ends that he had made.
Jim Overstreet had a six foot table full of sales stock and a card table loaded with insulator collecting, hobby related books and literature. The thrill of the day was seeing the wall of insulators in Jim’s insulator room that included a large percentage of the known CDs in the hobby. Needless to say, by the time we left Jim’s the big time insulator bug had bitten each of us and we talked about getting back together again.
One night about a month later I received a call from Jim Overstreet. I could sense excitement in his voice. He said that he had just talked at length with a fellow collector who was moving to town. He said his name was Keith Roloson and that he was a long time collector who had been a member of several insulator clubs. Jim said that Keith thought we had enough collectors in the area to start a club of our own. Jim said that he was putting together another insulator swap at his home when Keith could attend to help discuss the possibility of starting an insulator club.
Jim quickly got to work calling all the collectors that he had found in the region. He even followed up the calls with invitations requesting a RSVP. Jim was serious about getting an insulator club started in the region. A group of collectors gathered at Jim and JoAnn’s home on August 15, 1992. The known attendees were Jim and JoAnn Overstreet, Dudley and Sandy Ellis, John and Diane Glove and son Joe, Paul and Traci Irby, Steve McBride and future bride Tammy, Keith Roloson and Ben Kelley.
Photos from August 1992
Jim and JoAnn furnished hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill and all the fixings. After the meal we all gathered to discuss our mission to establish an insulator club. Jim gave Keith the floor since he had experience with being in an insulator club. Keith led the discussion of forming an insulator club. All attendees quickly agreed that a club should be established and that they would support it. Keith continued the discussion with questions that most of us had not thought about. He wanted to know if the club should be an Atlanta, Georgia, or Southeastern club and what should we name the club. We batted several names around for the club and finally agreed to resolve these issues at the next meeting scheduled for September 19, 1992 at Keith’s new home in Cummings, Georgia. The suggested names for the club were, The Dixie Region Insulator Club, The Greater Atlanta Insulator Club, The Georgia Polecats Insulator Club, The Dixie Polecats Insulator Club, and The Dixie Jewels Insulator Club.
Keith published the first Club newsletter after the August swap and meeting and mailed it to the list that Jim Overstreet had put together. The mailing went to 36 collectors in Georgia and 16 in neighboring states. In the newsletter Keith set the agenda for the September 19th meeting. An additional issue to be discussed was the need for club officers.
Many decisions were made at that September 19th swap and meeting. The collectors named the club the Dixie Jewels Insulator Club, agreed to make the club a southeastern region club and to meet quarterly. Future swaps and meetings were scheduled for February, May, August and November.
The first official meeting of the Dixie Jewels Insulator Club was Saturday, November 14, 1992 at Jim and JoAnn Overstreet’s home. The interim Treasurer, Jim Overstreet, began to collect dues at this meeting. The dues were set at $10 for family or individual memberships. The February 13, 1993 Club swap and meeting was scheduled to be held at the Overstreet’s home since they had sufficient space in their basement to host the swap in case of inclement weather.
The club members selected the CD 790 glass teapot insulator for the club emblem at the February swap and meeting. Also a report from Todd Gunderson, a member from Tennessee, on the feasibility of printing club T-shirts was read. Steve McBride and John Glover volunteered to be the insulator hunt research team. In other business the club meeting dates were moved to the third Saturday of the previously approved months to prevent conflicts with other scheduled events. The club was really beginning to take shape and find its place in the hobby.
The May 15, 1993 meeting was held at the Ellis home in Stockbridge. Sixteen club members from around the southeast met and agreed that the Club should have officers. The first elected DJIC officers were Keith Roloson, President, Jim Overstreet, Treasurer, and Dudley Ellis as Secretary. A motion was made and approved that the three officers would act on behalf of the club between meetings.
The first year of the DJIC was very exciting for me and I am sure it was the same for the other members that helped form the Club. To be active in the formation of the DJIC gave each of us a sense of accomplishment and a place in the annals of the history of our Club.