Joe PedroMilk bottles
As any iron monger worth his rust knows, a collection is constantly changing and evolving, and so for Dairy Month, Farm Collector visited with an old friend to see how his dairy collection was taking shape. Joe Pedro, Visalia, Calif., is a die-hard dairyman. He grew up on a dairy farm near the Los Angeles area, and (except for a brief stint in the service) has been in the business ever since. Did he always intend to go back to the farm?
'I had a girl friend,' he replies honestly. Isn't that always how it starts?
'I had a good opportunity in the service, but I wanted to get married, and what did I know how to do? Milk cows.' His uncle helped him get started on a dairy farm in July 1956, where he and his wife still live today. As for the collecting bug, it was there from the beginning, but time was a factor.
'I had a few things that I had bought in '56, when we moved to the farm, but I just didn't have the time for it,' Joe says. 'I picked up a few things here and there over the years, but it was about 12 or 13 years ago that I started really setting up the displays, and getting into it.' He does displays at several different places throughout the year; one at the cheese factory close to his farm, at two banks during Dairy Month, and at the California Antique Farm Equipment Show at Tulare, Calif., where Farm Collector first saw a small part of his collection three years ago. His focus at the 1999 display was the milking machines that he collects, but his two-story building holds the rest of the tale.
Two glass cases house the smaller items. In the open, there are cream separators, cheese cutters, butter cutters, signs - anything you can think of that's 'dairy.' And yet, Joe modestly claims to have one of the smaller collections.
'My friend Joe Gomes, he's the real collector,' Joe says proudly. 'He has, I'd say, the biggest dairy collection any where.'
In spite of Joe's claims, further probing indicates that his collection may have grown more than he realizes in the last few years. He is still involved with his dairy farm, but does less and less of the decision-making. 'I don't call that many shots out there any more,' he says seemingly without regret. His son and another man run the dairy, while Joe enjoys his collection.
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