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  Written by
  Sharla A. Stewart

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The collecting mania


Collective efforts
Forever bobbing baubles

"I was never awarded the Nobel prize, nor have I been elected to the National Academy of Science," writes retired geologist Meyer Rubin, SB'47, SM'49, PhD'56, whose hobby is best described in his own words. "But I do have what I believe is a world-class collection of bobbers.

PHOTO:  Meyer Rubin, a.k.a. Doc Kayak a former columnist for the Washington D.C. Canoe Cruisers Association newsletter, has paddled the Grand Canyon and all the major East Coast rivers.  "As an old guy, I don't need the adrenaline rush any more," he says."

You know, those red and white floats fishermen use on their lines to show when the fish bites? Hundreds of them, thousands, all used, none purchased. How did I get them? Hard, dangerous work, sweating over a kayak paddle. Forty-five years of white-water kayaking on rivers, taking me into the hiding places of Fishing bobberensis. Downstream of rapids, in the eddies, they collect in small groups, snapped or escaped off the lines of fishermen.

"Originally I thought they were the burial sites of bobbers, like elephants going to secret places to die. But then I noticed that the bobbers grow bigger as the season progresses. So I now wait 'til they are legal size before gathering them. Some were collected while still tentatively attached to the fishermen. Why they showed anger with me as I raced off I can't imagine.

"I have strings of them across my basement, boxes of them, plastic jugs full of them. Once I decorated our Christmas tree with them, but my wife didn't see the beauty and religiosity in it.

"I thought that when I retired, I would take a handful of them daily to pay for my lunch. They are worth at least 35 cents each. But now I just give bags of them to any repairmen who come to the house and profess to be fishermen. You know, time to give back?

"On trips to Europe I sometimes interrupt my geologic studies to collect foreign varieties, so I can truly claim I have an international collection.

"The MacArthur Foundation has never given me their genius award to continue my collecting, but they never gave Einstein a penny either. I maintain my amateur standing, I have my principles, and I have my unique collection."

  OCTOBER 2001

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