I’ve always been a pack rat at work.
People send journalists things. Silly things, odd things, things that put a smile on my face. The best of it I stuffed into my top desk drawer.
When the Register evacuated its old home on Second Street after the 2014 earthquake, I dumped the contents into a plastic bag and brought everything home for garage storage.
As a pre-Christmas treat, I opened my bag. What treasures!
For example: A piece of cardboard meant to be folded into a tiny box and sent through the U.S. mail. Printed above the lines for the address were the words: “LIVE TURTLE PERISHABLE.”
The idea of a turtle — even a tiny turtle — surviving a trip through the mail in a flimsy box measuring 3 inches by 2.5 inches by 1 inch had struck me as preposterous.
This mailer was a real product from the early history of the Napa Box Company. It was given to me once while on a tour.
Another long-time favorite: a red foam clown’s nose sent to me as part of a promotional kit for the Pickle Family Circus, a Bay Area institution.
How I love my clown nose. I won’t be without it next Halloween.
From the bottom of the bag I plucked out a wooden token for Sambo’s restaurants. Dating from the ‘70s, it promoted Sambo’s legendary 10-cent cup of coffee.
The idea of a 10-cent cup of coffee — even in the ‘70s — made me shudder. What swill it must have been.
I collected bumper stickers, including a favorite: “Lee Roberts is a redneck.”
Roberts was Napa’s city manager in the ‘70s. He was gruff, his office was world-class messy. A controversy must have prompted the bumper sticker. I remember it not.
I prize my Harry Martin bumper sticker. Harry was a controversial figure, a self-styled populist who put out the Napa Sentinel newspaper and got elected to the Napa council.
The bumper sticker says, “Why not Harry too?”
Does anyone remember what this means? Harry provoked extreme emotions: Love and hate. Did the sticker come from a hater?
At the bottom of the bag, a jangle of buttons. One favorite shows an image of a parking meter with a red line through it.
It dates from a campaign years ago to remove meters from downtown. Seen any meters lately? The button must have been effective.
Another button: “I’ve got the power to Save Our Economy.”
No, this is not from Donald Trump. It was part of a Chamber of Commerce campaign to persuade residents to shop locally. This is what chambers do.
Another button reads: “Save the history, save the tile.” It advocated for the preservation of the decades-old tile facade on Fagiani’s bar that was threatened with modernization. The button worked. The tile is still there.
My greatest desk treasure? Hands down, it’s a deck of playing cards featuring the faces of candidates who were vying to become California governor in an October, 2003 special election to recall Gray Davis.
There were 135 candidates on that ballot, including a local one, Ned Roscoe, whose family operated the Cigarettes Cheaper! chain. He was running as a Libertarian and “The Smoker’s Governor.”
Roscoe devised the playing cards as a playful way to differentiate himself from the crowded field. If half of the 20 percent of California adults who smoked voted for him, he just might win.
I thought Roscoe’s deck of cards was brilliant. The joker was Davis, the highly unpopular Democratic governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the king of spades, Arianna Huffington the queen of spades.
Roscoe, who stacked the deck with his photo on the ace of hearts, ace of spades, ace of clubs and king of hearts, did not prevail. Schwarzenegger, dubbed the Gubernator, did.