Boasting a wall of what he refers to as “stuff,” Charlie Spears proudly showcases some of his current and former hobbies to all of his neighbors at McDowell Place.
The 88-year-old is a native of the Hustonville area but moved to Danville about the time he got married and has remained here most of the rest of his life.
Before moving to Danville and just out of high school, Spears was drafted into the United States Navy, where he was an electrician mate, 2nd class for three years. While in the service, he was involved in the invasions into Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the Philippines.
Upon his return home, he contemplated his future and learned of a program at the Palm Beach Co. where they were teaching “farm boys” like himself to become tailors. That turned out to be a good opportunity for Spears, who worked there for 35 years.
“I made a living and raised a family,” Spears said.
With pride he spoke of his family, his daughter Dr. Gail Spears, who teaches psychology at the University of Georgia; and his son Jim Spears, who retired from the Boyle County school system.
While working as a tailor, Spears had the opportunity to meet then-Gov. Edward T. Breathitt, who came to the company to get measured for clothing for himself and his wife. Spears was the man chosen to measure Breathitt and so impressed him that Breathitt made Spears a Kentucky Colonel.
About 15 years ago, Spears saw a display someone had created to house military service awards, prompting him to create one of his own. It was the first he made and still houses his Kentucky Colonel certificate, military service awards, and a few other things.
That was the start of his collection.
Now, his collection includes more than 2,000 arrowheads that he gathered as a child, some of which are stored away; sets of golf clubs, one set wooden; and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans knives.
The collection is an eclectic blend of things, many of which he’s made himself. Some of the more colorful items include a set of fishing lures he imagined, crafted and decorated himself.
Spears also has a knowledge of taxidermy, which he learned from his brother. He used that skill to mount two pheasants, one of which is featured in his collection.
His collection includes a family heirloom, a “sugar shell” spoon, which belonged to his wife’s grandmother.
“I saw in a magazine how to display that spoon. I brought that out here, and people just enjoyed seeing it,” Spears said, proudly.
With each aspect of the collection, which he said is actually much bigger than he has room for, Spears has a story to follow or memory connected. The pieces have worked together on the wall, much like a puzzle, reflecting different interests and aspects of his life.
“I’ve been awful lucky,” he said, with a smile.