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Canfield man’s passion for political keepsakes grows

Staff photo / J.T. Whitehouse Political memorabilia collector Jack Dixey of Canfield shows off his Ray T. Davis metal “Junior Deputy” badge that the former Mahoning County sheriff handed out to children during special events.

CANFIELD — Growing up in the 1960s, a young teen saw a world of friendly neighbors.

Those neighbors were sometimes the very people who helped shape the future in more ways than they could have known. Thus was the case for a teen named Jack Dixey, now 67 who got his start in collecting early in life.

Dixey is a political memorabilia collector whose name is known across the nation and who puts on the area’s largest collectors’ show. Looking back 54 years ago, he said it was one elderly woman on his street who introduced him to, and helped him start, his lifelong work.

“I grew up on Edwards Street in Canfield,” Dixey said. “When I attended the high school at age 13, I would walk from my house to the old high school on Wadsworth Street. That walk took me past Grandma Scott’s house.”

He said he often would stop and talk with Scott and she would share peanuts with him. He also would help the elderly lady out and she would paid him with a political button. Thinking they were fascinating, Dixey kept the buttons and began a collection. That collection would get more precious with help from “Grandma.” “I would mow her lawn,” Dixey said. “One day she was impressed that I took the time to clean the grass out of the lawnmower without being asked. She gave me a special button for the effort. It was a Woodrow Wilson button.”

As Garndma Scott entered her 70s, she took ill. Dixey said when she realized she didn’t have many more years, she passed on her large collection of buttons to Dixey, but there was one more big surprise to come.

“After she passed away (on Aug. 26, 1972 at age 76), she had left me an envelope addressed to Jack,” Dixey said. “I opened it and found that Grandma Scott had left me a tin (Abe) Lincoln button.”

He said the Lincoln button is still in his personal collection and one item he would never sell.

Dixey continued to hang on to his precious collection of political buttons. In his senior year of high school, he even added one more item that was of his own design. He ran for senior class president in 1971 and came up with an unusual way to campaign.

“I bought a box of matchbooks,” he said. “I tore out the matches, painted the covers and then wrote on the cover ‘There’s no match for Jack.’ I put them all over the school for people to find. They would pick up the matchbook, read the cover, then open it to find, no match. I did keep one for my collection.”

Dixey graduated from Canfield High School in 1972, and he went on to attend Bowling Green University, where he earned a double major degree in marketing and sales management.

He continued his collection by attending what he calls “a great place” to find future collectibles. He attended both the Democratic and Republican conventions, picking up candidate paraphernalia. He also added local items to his growing inventory.

“I have the ‘I like Spike’ button from when former Mayor Francis Spike McLaughlin ran for the office in Canfield,” he said. “I also have the Junior Deputy metal star that Sheriff Ray T. Davis handed out to children.”

In 1981, Dixey took his passion for political collecting to the next level. At the time, he was living in Mansfield and decided to put together a show to bring collectors together. It was held at a hotel on the east side of Columbus, but that location became unavailable in 2008 when owners sold it to build an indoor water park.

“I moved the show to Canton that year and held it in the McKinley Grand Hotel,” Dixey said. “I had the ballroom sold out.”

He said in 2019, just two weeks before his big show, the hotel management canceled the event. On short notice, Dixey moved the show to the Serbian Center in North Canton, and it was a big hit.

COVID-19 continued to be a stumbling block in 2020 when the Serbian Center canceled the show. That year, Dixey found the MAPS Air Museum, and a room he could rent. The room was a retired airplane hangar with plenty of room for the show. It had room for 45 tables and the show was expanded to bring in other collectible items like comic books, antique advertising, antique bottles, photography, ephemera, postcards and militaria. The combining of collectible items made for a big show, and it was a huge success.

This year, Dixey will host his 40th annual show at MAPS Air Museum, 2260 International Parkway in North Canton 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.

“It sounds unusual, but I have been collecting political memorabilia for over half a century,” Dixey said. “It has really become a passion and an enjoyable hobby.”

Dixey has also become involved with Hakes Auctions and is able to handle auctions for collectible items. In fact, Hakes is sponsoring the Canton show.

For more information on the show, contact Dixey at DixeyCityLimits@yahoo.com.

TAG LINE: To suggest a Saturday profile, contact features editor Burton Cole at bcole@tribtoday.com or metro editor Marly Reichert at mreichert@tribtoday.com.

jtwhitehouse@vindy.com

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