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[Host] You see that that is an alligator. Hi I'm Jim Linefelder and welcome to another edition of Neat stuff. I'm on the Hillsboro River near Tampa, Florida and surrounding me is all sorts of wildlife as you can see. But the reason I came to Florida is for the wild collectors. [Narrator] First, we'll go to Ocalla to checkout dragsters and funny cars and Big Daddy Don Garlit's Museum of drag racing. Then, meet a man who knows a bad day of fishing is better than a good day's work, and has the tackle collection to prove it. And finally, is there something missing in your life? Feeling a little angst over the loss of your G.I. Joe doll or Twiggy boardgame? Well, You can reclaim it all at the Baby Boom bazaar in St. Petersburg. In the beginning, racing success was achieved through high speed,
tempered by maneuverability. Here's a racer who's mastered both skills. While this guy, he's just into the speed. In the years following World War II, hot rodders were just into speed. They moved from the street to abandoned military airstrips where they can slingshot down a quarter mile strip as fast as mechanically possible. Maneuverability be damned. And in the process they created a new kind of racing. Drag racing. While most of the early drag racing attention was focused on California. It was out of the Florida swamps that emerged a man who would dominate and redefine the sport of drag racing for nearly four decades. Big Daddy Don Garlits. Garlits' drag racing legacy is embodied in a collection of drag racing memorabilia at the Big Daddy Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida, where you can track the development of the
sport from its infancy to the present. [Garlits] Well basically the dragsters are very simple construction. You gotta have lightweight car, lots of power, and some way to get that power to the ground. One car, I guess, that stuck out in my mind [???] is the bug. [Garlits] That car is the first dragster, or rail. Dick Kraft showed up at at Santa Ana with that car. It had been a roadster, the week before. He took the body off fabricating a little homemade seat. They said, "Well you can't run this, this is just a rail. Well in fact they did let him run, but not for the trophy, but he set such a good time. The following about eight more showed up with their bodies off and we had a dragster class. [Narrator] Stripping the nonessentials from what rolled off Detroit's assembly line, would prove to be not enough. So the racers started building their cars from the ground up. The frames got lighter, and the engines, enormous. [Garlits] It's quite an experience and it's not for the timid,
for sure. [Narrator] But for the drivers, straddling all that barely tamed horsepower would sometimes prove deadly. In 971, car [???] ??? [name] barely get off the starting line, when the transmission of his front engine dragster, the common design of the time, exploded at his feet. [Garlits] I did not want to quit and I felt like the rear engine car was definitely going to have to come on the scene. I never thought it would be a winner. [Narrator] While designed with driver safety in mind, Garlits' rear engine design would prove to be faster, too, turning the front engine dragster into, well, a museum piece. [Garlits] I've actually stepped out of three of these cars, over a three year period, that had crashed over 200 miles an hour, didn't even get a broken bone, relatively speaking. Cracked ribs one time, but... [Host] Oh well, [Garlits] No, I mean that's nothing. [Narrator] Also featured in the museum are the court jesters of drag racing, the show car. Tony Ivo was one of the first ones with a dual engine Buick and [???] coarser. The
Little Red Wagon. Romeo Palimides, a little yellow rocket car. I mean, it never actually ran, but they carried it to many drag strips talkin' about when they were going to go 500 miles an hour, when they finally got all the rocket motors from the government. They never did that. I mean, the people paid to see it. Right, well Don [???] it's not often I get to meet a legend, I want to thank you for showing me around. [Garlits] Well I've had a great time. I hope you've enjoyed the tour." [Host] Oh absolutely. [Loudspeaker] Bring out your neat stuff. If it's scares, loud and distasteful, we want to see it. [Host] Hey, joining me in the back of the truck today, Tracy Below, who is a Hot Wheels collector, [Loudspeaker], Play it on. The fastest metal cars you've ever seen. [Host] Now, what does the discerning Hot Wheel collector
look for, like what makes these particularly valuable. [Tracy] Well the red lines on the tires dates them between '69 and '79 uh '68 and '79. [Host] Ahh. [Loudspeaker] Collect them by themselves, or get 'em in wild new actions sets. [Host] Those Hot Wheels toy designers, they were just going nuts coming in, uh coming up with innovations, weren't they. [Tracy] They sure were. [Host] I mean I don't even remember this one, [Tracy] Yea. [Host] where the Hot Wheel flew down the track and then launched the glider off of it. [Tracy] That's called a Hot Wheels sky show. [Host] And this one, this didn't make it. This was not a big seller. [Tracy] No it wasn't. [Host] Although a lot of times with collectors those are the ones that ended up valuable, [Tracy] Very true. Very true. [Host] a loss to the manufacturer, boom to collectors. [Loudspeaker] Lot, after lot, after lot. [Tracy] Everybody's trying to regain their childhood toys and trying to find mint cars thirty years later can be pretty tough, because the paint, ya know, kids played with and they played hard with them.
[Host] Sure we would set up things like the loop to loop and then have like no safe landing at the other end. We would like send 'em off into a ravine or something. [Car crash sound]. [Host] Well, Tracy, thanks a lot for joining us on the back of the truck. [Tracy] Thank you for having us. [Host] Hot wheels to you. [Tracy] Uh, Uh. Thank you. [Narrator] Next ,the one that didn't get away in Tampa. Florida's sunshine and year round heat make it an excellent place to grow oranges, right.
Well, yeah, but did you know that oranges don't turn orange without cold weather? The ideal night time temperature in an orange grove is a chilly 40 degrees. In Thailand, the temperature never gets cold, so their oranges are green, even when they're ripe. If necessity is the Mother of Invention, dumb luck must be its Father. Around the year 1890, James Heddon, a Michigan inventor, absentmindedly tosses a piece of wood he was whittling into a lake. The next thing he knows, boom, a large bass bursts through the surface, knocking Heddon's bobbing piece of wood out of the water. Heddon figures hey, if you attach a line and a hook to a floating lure, you won't have to bother with live bait. This leads him to found James Heddon & Sons, one of America's most important lure manufacturers. [Thought bubble] Come on baby. Come on. Ew! Fish on! Oh man, that is a haul! That is going to be a beauty. This could be....ah, ah, oh,
oh yeah, oh, [splash sound] [thought bubble] broke the line. Urrrgghh. [Narrator] Well I guess that's why they call it fishing and not catching. Tell you what let's bag this. I want you to meet someone by the name of Richard Hall, he's got one of the most impressive fishing tackle collections you're ever likely to see. Come on, let's go hook up with him. No pun intended. [Host] Now this is the life. I'm here on the Alafia River with Richard Hall. [Hall] Sure an active lure. I'd bite it. [Host] The allure of lures, which are artificial bait, is the seductive way they move to attract fish. I can't wait to see more of this rare tackle after I get more fishing tips. [Hall] Never talk when you're fishing. [Laughter] [Host] Cast early and often. [Hall] If you really want to catch a lot of fish, and big fish, the best thing is live bait. But we don't collect live bait. We collect lures. [Host] There ya go. [Hall] We fish with lures. [Host] Yeah, the refrigeration costs would be huge if you collected live bait. [Laughter] [Host] I can imagine, this thing, I don't know how much it weighs, but it's heavy. [Hall] Yeah. How would you like to
fish with that on. [Host] Yeah, this 1930's Stevens reeled in, Dick, 20 years ago at 80 dollars. Today you might pay three to six thousand dollars for this big game beauty. [Hall] That was my start and I thought, well I'll collect reels. But as you can see, it's kinda developed from not from reels, into almost anything that has anything to do with fishing. Lure manufactures don't catch fish, they catch the fisherman. [Narrator] And how. The lures themselves are tiny works of art, named to thrill. Imagine going out armed with the Dillinger, the Water Turkey, Cork Head Minnow, or Big Momma. [Host] This lure finally realized what its life was all about. [Hall] That's an ugly lure, isn't it. [Host] Yeah. [Hall] These are sort of a special lure. They are made of a material called Catalin, which is used in making radios and jewelry and a lot of other things, and it's a beautiful plastic.
[Host] It is, it is beautiful, I mean you don't usually think of those two words together, beautiful and plastic, but it really is. [Hall] You can select which body you wanted and which head you wanted with that color body and these were made so you could put some kind of material in there, ground, fish, or chum material, something that would give a odor to the fish and then you just put this on. And then it's ready to fish. [Host] With a handle on this, almost looks like a, like a gun, like this coulda been Dirty Harry's fishing pole. [Whisper] I know what you're asking yourself bass. Is that a popper? Or a spinner. Gotta ask yourself just one question. Do I feel lucky. [Narrator] Shorter poles are more valuable than longer poles because fewer of them were made. This turn of the century split bamboo is in the longer category at nine feet. Though its older, it's less valuable. As low as $75, compared to newer custom poles
like these 1930's creations by Typhoon. Their craftsmanship can command thousands from collectors. [Gong sound] Fishing with a reel may have started in China in the late 10th century. By the middle ages, Europeans realized fishing is not only a good way to catch food, but hey it's fun! [Host] Now are bait fishermen held in sort of lower esteem in fishing circles. [Hall] Yeah, in some circles, then of course even the ?flycasters? are, you know about fly fishermen. [Host] Right. [Hall] And then even fly fishermen, they're a purist. [Host] Guys who are hookless. [Hall] Yeah, home owned barbless hooks. [Host] That's what I meant. Barbl..... less. Now hookless, that would really be impressive. [Hall] But uh, I actually [Host] virtual fishing. Dick gave me the rundown of what we might catch in the river. [Hall] This is a spring fed river, so we could be catching some real nice snook, or some real nice red fish, or some real nice trout. [Host] Unfortunately all Dick caught was a real nice log. [Hall] One of those mistake fishes.
[Host] And me? I didn't even do that good. You know, Dick with these great lures I can't figure why we're not catching fish. [Hall] Beats me. I don't know either. [Water splash]. [Motor noise] [Music noise. Reel noise.] [Narrator] Neat Stuff will be right back to swap everything from Monster models to bell bottoms at the Baby Boom bazaar. [Host] Baby Boomers. Born during the post-World War II prosperity between
1946 and 1964, we Boomers have been setting the trends for three decades now. [Music] [Host] It's not that we're such a pushy generation, it's just that, Hey sorry, but we account for 42 percent of the adult population. 78 million strong. Just by virtue of our numbers, ever since we were old enough to collect an allowance, Boomers have been dominating the American marketplace and shaping the nation's psyche. In the world of collecting is certainly no exception. Baby Boomer collectibles are one of the hottest categories in collecting these days. [Narrator] So it only makes sense that we stop and find out what's for sale at the Baby Boom bazaar in St. Petersburg. [Music] Wow what an eye popping spread of nostalgic knickknacks of memory jogging junk. I don't know where to look first, but lots of shoppers have their eyes on a particular prize. [Shopper 1] Well I'm looking mainly for Addam's Family things. [Shopper 2] Star Trek action figures. [Host] How did I know. [Chuckle] [Shopper 3] Everything
Barbie. [Host] A somewhat less seasoned shopper, I hit up one of the locals, Angela Hall Randall before striking out of my own. [Shopper 4] Well I personally like sixties and seventies TV shows and memorabilia. Watch out for reproductions. Don't buy anything that looks too new. [Host] All right well I'm going to stagger around and see what I can find. Ahh, alone with my memories. Who could forget everyone's favorite anthropomorphic tuber Mr. Potato Head. Didn't every red blooded American kid want to tote their tuna to school in a real cowboy lunchbox. [Shopper 5] One thing you can say about baby boomers. They were easily entertained. Can you imagine in the age of Nintendo, kids getting turned on by Bonanza Rummy? [Host] Of course a classic boomer collectible is good old G.I. Joe. Look at this one. A hundred eighty five dollars. You know why they're so rare don't you. Because of the way we treated them when we had them. I mean if there was a Geneva convention for toy soldiers, we'd all be up on war crimes. Kids blew 'em up with firecrackers, set them on fire and now they're rare.
And worth a fortune. Now if you want to talk monster price tags check out these model kits. Popular in the 60's when cheesy monster movies hit the tube for the first time. [Motor noise] [Seller 1] This kit originally sold for 98 cents in 1964. Today it's worth $700 in the box. [Host] What?! $700? [Seller 1] $700. [Host] Man, I mean I've seen those movies and I'm guessing that was probably the original budget for the film. Well they're not strictly boomer era characters, smart money was snapping up these Nightmare Before Christmas dolls in 1993. [Shopper 6] Well, like these guys here, in the film, Lock, Stock, and Barrel. Everybody remembers these guys. Retailed for $10.99. Now a mint box set of these guys. $125, $150. That's on this continent. In Japan, double or triple that, easily. [Host] Well, time to find something in my price range before I blow this Boom Bazaar. [Male Voice] Hey Angela. [Angela] Hey. [Male Voice] How'd you make out. [Angela] Pretty good. I got a James Bond board game. [Male Voice] Cool.
[Angela] What'd you get. [Male Voice] Well, got this little number right here. Little George Bush. Bobblehead. Only five bucks. [Angela] What a deal. [Male Voice] You know in a few years This is probably going to be worth what, probably six, at least. [Angela] What a deal. You did good. [Male Voice] Thanks. [Music] [Narrator] And now it's time for My Neat Stuff, which is not actually my neat stuff, it's your neat stuff. But who's keeping track. [Noises] [Jeff] My name is Jeff Francis, and my neat thing is my license plate collection. [Music] You know every plate has a story. This plate's actually made out of cardboard. Just to save metal, during World War II. The animals ate 'em.
Right off the cars. Everybody should become a licensed plate collector. I have over 200,000 license plates. I've done silly things like tried to pull people over to buy the plates off their cars. I've crawled under houses, and battled scorpions and snakes. You can collect one of each state. Colorado put a skier on all its license plates. Kansas had the sunflower decals. Massachusetts used a codfish in 1928. Kentucky declared themselves the FOR PROGRESS State. Idaho in 1928 put a big spud on their plates. I have a interesting collection of foreign license plates. A 1936 Mexican plate that has glass numbers inside the plate. Egyptian plates were extremely hard to get and also there was a penalty for taking them out of the country.
I smuggled this out. Now it's in my collection. [Narrator] When Neat Stuff returns we'll visit a real slice of Florida. It's a collection hidden in the Everglades. This just in. Some neat nostalgic news from Neat Stuff's neat news file.
[Radio voice] 'A' is for aquatic, ?in style? acrobatic, and 'B' is for beauty, four in a row. Pretty as a picture, we'll have you know. 'C' is for Cypress Gardens, where this frolic takes place. A water ski tourney setting the pace. When boy meets girl at Cypress Gardens, things really start to spin. Dick Wyatt is the boy, the girl is Willow Worthington Maguire, and she can do anything he can do, better. Oh no you can't, says Dick, water ski wizard, as he twirls and whirls in the best of circles. Well, the ladder of success is oft times scarred with broken dreams. [Narrator] See that boat with the propeller on top? Sort of a sea plane helicopter, and it flies too. It's a breeze. He's being towed by an outboard motor boat connected by a 100 foot towline. It's a simple way to fly. No license needed. Just a hankering to do something different. Like dropping in on your skier friend.
You get the jump on 'em. Every time. [Music] [Narrator] Hey, if you see it in your rearview mirror, you've gone too far. Slow down for the roadside attraction. Hi. Jim Linefelder, Neat Stuff. [Voice] How'dya do Sir. Tom Gaskins, Jr., and I'm here at Cypress Knee museum. [Host] Now that's great, except I have just one question. What the heck is this Cypress knee? [Tom] Well sir, I am frequently asked that. It's a growth that grows out from the root of a cypress tree. My father started working with Cypress Knee 60 years ago. [Host] What is it about cypress knees that that's so fascinated your Dad from early on. [Tom] Dad loved the woods, and he discovered cypress knees, and he saw natures art. You see your typical Cypress knee is straight and plain like a stalagmite in a cave. Dad discovered that when you break the bark of a cypress knee, it heals over and begins to take on a different shape. Now this knee right here,
Dad, each spring since 1938 took his pocket knife and nicked the bark on these tips right here, and he found out that through this injury, they begin to take on the shape. Jim, I've got something else I'm going to show you in here. [Music] [Host] All these carts are a cool way to display Cypress Knees, but, was there a practical reason for this? [Tom] Absolutely. This was our method of drying the knees. We roll them out in the sun in the daytime and back under cover at night. And believe it or not, Cypress Knees suntan like people suntan. Two weeks in the sun makes all the difference in the world. [Narrator] According to Tom, Cyprus are the only trees with knees. Who knew? [Tom] Through the years he collected the unusual ones, and there, example
is Stalin, Ben Franklin. We call this the Lady Hippopotamus, wearin' her Carmen Miranda hat. [Host] That's sort of like Nature's Rorschach test. [Tom] There's Groucho Marx, the craziest Cypress knee I ever saw. [Narrator] Well, that's it from Florida. Thanks for watching Neat Stuff. I'll see you next time.
Neat Stuff
Coconut Grove
Producing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Rip Bang Pictures
The Learning Channel?
Contributing Organization
Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland, Oregon)
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Episode Description
This episode of Neat Stuff looks at collections and museums in Florida. Jim Leinfelder visits Don Garlits' Museum of Drag Racing in Olaco, a notable fishing tackle collector on the Alafia River, and the Baby Boom Bazaar in St. Petersburg. Additional segments include a visit to the Cypress Knee Museum in "Roadside Attractions", a Hot Wheels collection in "House Calls", and a license plate collection in "My Neat Stuff".
Series Description
Neat Stuff is a magazine that features segments on museums and private collectors and their collections.
Copyright Date
Asset type
Antiques and Collectibles
Neat Stuff is a trademark of Rip Bang Pictures, Inc. Used with permission.
Media type
Moving Image
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Host: Leinfelder, Jim
Interviewee: Bellow, Tracey
Interviewee: Hall, Richard
Interviewee: Francis, Jeff
Interviewee: Garlits, Don
Interviewee: Gaskins, Tom
Producer: Leinfelder, Jim
Producer: Martin, Jessica L.
Producing Organization: Oregon Public Broadcasting
Producing Organization: Rip Bang Pictures
Producing Organization: The Learning Channel?
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)
Identifier: 113788.0 (Unique ID)
Format: Betacam: SP
Generation: Original
Duration: 00:31:34:00
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Chicago: “Neat Stuff; Coconut Grove,” 1996-00-00, Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 30, 2023,
MLA: “Neat Stuff; Coconut Grove.” 1996-00-00. Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 30, 2023. <>.
APA: Neat Stuff; Coconut Grove. Boston, MA: Oregon Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from