Who is the "real" Picker?

Turns out when I got to the ”Pickers” house he only had one of the signs as the other one had never been delivered to him as promised, YIKES! Months of planning and promises and it wasn't going together! I made my panic texts to the guy from Hannibal Missouri who was suppose to have dropped it off at the Dixie meet so it would be there for me but someone had dropped the ball and it didn't happen.

I stopped and got the one sign but Rusty Carpenter just left it on the front porch as he had to go to a daughters ball game and couldn’t meet me. Sad as he’s a famous guy in the hobby and I wanted to meet him. He had a big Sinclair sign I wanted to buy but had other people waiting along the route and couldn’t be late. We got the sign and headed for the next stop in Orrick, Mo.

Orric is in the middle of nowhere on dirt/gravel roads to pick up a rare COOP sign pole I had found on eBay months before. I had saved a special place on the trailer rack to load it as I knew it might be tricky getting it loaded. We finally met the seller and he had a little tractor and we got it loaded right on the gravel road with no problems whew, and headed off to Counsil Bluffs Iowa.

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Not Going to make a Deal

We then went to see another collector named Sam, who also has a reputation but who asked me to take him a Carter sign to trade for something he had. I brought the sign with no real expectations as I knew it might get tricky. He had a beautiful place in Broken Arrow with about 50 signs on poles on a hill top. Very impressive and not even the best of their collection which is in Tulsa however, I could see he wasn’t going to make a deal so we visited and left for Joplin about two hours away for the night.

Broken Arrow Hillside

How long does it take to count 20 Pills?

Upon getting to the pharmacy we found that we only had the RX for the nausea and not the one for pain? I had the pharmacy call the hospital in Amarillo to see what had happened but of course no one knew anything and the Dr I saw was now off and wouldn’t be back until 9pm.

Nice I thought! I tried everything I could think of but it is very tricky with class 2 pain pills so no luck! Finally after another couple of hours driving I noticed a small piece of paper in the center console of the truck and check it out. Oops again… It was the lost prescription that mom had put there and forgot. We stopped again and got it filled just in case! It took forever to fill but we had no choice except to wait. Finally I lost my patience and went up to the counter and asked how long does it take to count out 20 pills? She checked and the prescription had been waiting but no one called our name. Par!

Just In Case...

A couple of other guys dropped off signs with Scott for me as well so it was very convenient and saved a lot of time and driving. Once loaded up I go back on the phone with Chris Deprez who lives in Dallas and tried again to talk him in to selling me his 5 foot SSP Red Indian Sign Ive been after for about two years now. I could just see it at Lakeside Storage up on a pole for all to appreciate. Unfortunately he didn’t answer the phone so we had to just drive right on past and head for our next pick up spot in Tulsa. I had hoped to see another collector while in town but the one wasn't there that I really wanted to see. I did pick up the signs I had bought a month or so ago from Joe Phillips who got them to Tulsa for me to pick up since he lives a couple of hours away the wrong way for us. While traveling I stopped to get the prescriptions filled that the Doctor gave me in the hospital. Just in case…

Traveling with the Runs...

Mom spent the hot morning inside as she wasn't feeling well and had stomach problems causing the run’s all morning which doesn’t make for easy traveling. Scott is a friend from way back and I have bought lots of signs from him before. I had several other collectors drop signs off at his place over the past months of waiting for me to pick them up. I had one friend haul signs from Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina, Dallas and somewhere else I can’t remember but all dropped off at Scott’s place awaiting my arrival. I never actually met Gene, that is the guy who transported all the signs for Lakeside Storage for me, but he is a very nice guy and is always on the road and made my life a lot easier. I paid him for his troubles and he was happy and we all came out good.

Diet Pepsi it is!

Lots of Diet Pepsi and nothing else for days on end. I was also prescribed some pills for nausea and for pain. We were released from the hospital at 6am after they gave me another dose of pain meds and made me promise not to drive. I didn’t bother to tell them that mom couldn’t drive the truck and trailer so I just quietly drove back to the hotel where we both went to bed.

When I woke up I went to meet my first sign collector to pick up the two signs I had waiting for me that I had purchased when I was in Hawaii several months earlier on Facebook. While there I found a couple of more signs he had and bought them too.

I was feeling much better by then and loaded the four signs on the truck in my special sign rack and went back to the hotel to get mom and get back on the road. We had signs awaiting….

more signs awaiting DX Sign

What...5 Days of clear liquids????

The drive to Amarillo takes us thru Price, Greenriver, Moab and Monticello before turning off to go to Cortez and Shiprock. All very pretty driving even though most of it is two lane roads. Very hard to find anything decent to eat along that route so we ate ordinary Mexican food in Farmington where we found an easy place to park our big truck and trailer in the lot.

Finally we arrived in Amarillo at a pretty early hour and got a nice Motel room. Unfortunately I had been suffering from a dull stomach ache for the previous couple of days that I expected to subside with time but it didn’t subside at all. In fact it got so intense that a about 11pm I finally figured out this could be something very serious and needed to get some attention. We got up and headed to the ER which I have only done once before in my 78 years and that was when I had appendicitis about 30 years earlier. So we looked up the local hospitals in Amarillo and headed to the BSA ER where I got immediate attention but only got sent to a room and go no help for the pain which continued to increase with time.

Finally after and hour of waiting a Doctor finally came in and had the nurse add some morphine in the IV drip which soon gave some relief. Of course they took blood and urine and after an exam the Doctor pronounced the diagnosis of Pancreatitis….. WHAT?

Where did that come from? We made the assumption that it must have been a reaction to all of the health supplements that I am taking to prevent Alzheimer’s. Who knows? In any event the therapy was zero food for 5 days and only clear liquids!!!

The Cash is Missing???

For many months I have been preparing to make the long trip to Texas, Oklahoma, Joplin Missouri, Kansas City, Council Bluffs to pick up the signs that I had been buying all over the Country but that would be held by friends in those locations until I cold get there to load them up. Just like a little kid at Christmas I can’t sleep as I think about finally getting started on my trip. Finally Sept 4th came and I had planned on leaving at about 6am so we could make the trip to Amarillo that is about a 13 hour trip if all goes well.

As expected I awoke at 4 am in anticipation and we were ready and out the door by 5am. I had filled my little trusty fanny pack with cash just in case we found some unanticipated signs along the trip and remembered putting it on my little suitcase in the closet. As we drove up Spanish Fork Canyon I checked to see if I had the fanny pack with the cash and found that it was no where to be seen. I stopped and checked everywhere including digging through my suitcase! NO fanny pack! I wasn’t panicked as we had left early so we just returned home about 20 min away and went in and checked the closet where I had last seen it. NO fanny pack!I checked everywhere! I rechecked the truck, my suitcase and everything I could think of. Last of all I checked moms suitcase. THERE IT WAS! She had forgotten that she threw it in… OOPS We get a lot of those oops moments these days but were grateful to find it and we’re back on the road again laughing at each other for our old age disabilities.

A Hobby of Hope....

Some of you may be wondering who on earth is the obsessed person that has such a passion for Petroliana sign collecting? Well honestly I have wondered the same thing….and it is my dad. Sparky Sparks is his name, or at least what he goes by. He has a passion like no one I have ever know. He has GRIT and perseverance, he finds work fun and hobbies are only useful if they have a future purpose. We his 8 children wonder, “WHAT IS THE PURPOSE” of collecting sign after sign after sign, driving all around the country at 78 years old?

Our mom, Jeannie, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago hasn’t slowed this passion but instead just pushes the passion of hours on end spent together traveling, making memories and collecting signs. Does she love it like he does? No, but she loves him and his addiction to this “Hobby of Hope” I will call it. Hope in what?

Hope in a love of life, making memories, persevering, staying young, making connections, and cultivating new friendships along the way. A hope of, surviving hard things and doing it together as a couple who loves eachother and spends just about every moment together on the road or off.

This blog is written by me, his daughter, Tiffany, and by him sharing their adventures about his Hobby of Hope.