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The house is full of Coca-Cola items, from lamps to toothpick dispensers.



Published: Sat, August 6, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The house is full of Coca-Cola items, from lamps to toothpick dispensers.

By GAIL WHITE

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

McDONALD -- A simple, inexpensive purchase 16 years ago started Sharon Roberts on her interesting journey as a Coca-Cola collector.

"I went to a garage sale and bought a 1935 Madge Evans Coke tray for $10," she said.

"You know, I debated whether to pay $10 for that tray," she said with a chuckle, thinking of what she has paid for some items in her collection since then.

At the time, Roberts bought the tray simply because she liked it. She brought it home and set it on a shelf. Upon investigating, she learned she had purchased a great deal.

"She should have never sold it to me for that price. It was worth much more," Roberts admits.

With her interest stirred, Roberts learned of a flea market in Cortland sponsored by the Western Reserve Chapter Coca-Cola Collectors Club.

"When I went to the flea market, I was just in awe of what was in the collection," she said.

Roberts joined the collectors club and has been hooked on Coca-Cola ever since.

"It's a disease," she laughs. "I have it."

The Roberts' home

Pulling in the Roberts' driveway, a Coca-Cola bench in the yard reads, "Drink Coca-Cola Fountain Service." A Coca-Cola mug and tray sits on a table on the front porch. A Coca-Cola bird house is in the corner and a road sign, Coca-Cola Ave., hangs on the porch side rail.

The side door has a "Yes, we're open. Enjoy Coke" sign on it. "My husband slides it to 'Sorry, we're closed,' at night sometimes," Roberts said with a chuckle.

Coke placemats sit on the kitchen table, alongside Coke salt and pepper shakers, napkin holder, toothpick dispenser and hot plate. A lamp, created from a Coke glass commemorating the soft drink's 75th anniversary in 1977, is at the back of the table and a miniature Coca-Cola juke box plays different Coke theme songs.

The walls are covered in Coca-Cola memorabilia -- thermometers, license plates, trays, magnets.

"See that chalkboard with the magnets on it?" Roberts asked. In a hushed tone, with a devious sparkle in her eyes, she shared, "The neighbor threw it away. There were two of them."

A great deal of the enjoyment of collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia, it seems, is in the find.

"You gotta look through people's trash," she said, giggling. "Clean up week in town, we ride around looking through what everyone is throwing away."

When Roberts first started collecting Cola products, her daughters were little.

"We would take them to garage sales," Roberts said. "They started collecting, so they had things to look for too. One collected frogs and the other dogs. It was such a fun thing to do."

Bargain shopping

The family would spend weekends visiting antique shops, flea markets and garage sales, always asking, "Would you take less for this?"

"I'm a real bargain hunter," Roberts said with a smile. "I enjoy it more if I pay less. I only pay a lot of money if it is rare and hard to find."

She pointed to two trays hanging on the kitchen wall. One shows a young man proposing to a young lady. The other is the same couple, wearing wedding attire, standing in front of a minister.

"I paid $100 for those," she said. "We were at an auction and I just kept bidding. I had to have them."

Such is the mindset of a collector. Pointing at trays hanging in the hallway to the basement, Roberts said, "These trays are a series of four." Then, pausing with a bit of a scowl on her face, she added, "I only have two."

Catching herself, she smiled again and said, "If you ever get it all what would you do?"

"It's American," she said when asked why she has such a fascination with the soft drink memorabilia. "Coca-Cola is as American as apple pie to me."

gwhite@vindy.com

XThe Western Reserve Chapter of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club will host its annual flea market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Garden Brook Center, 4820 state Route 5 N.E. in Cortland. Admission is free.




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