Doug Clark: Collection runs from curios to just curious
Some guys hunt. Some guys fish. Other guys get their jollies chasing little white balls around grassy fairways.
Ed Magnuson’s obsession is, well, a chip shot off the trampled path. Ed is the proud curator of his own Man Shop Museum.
I hadn’t heard of it, either. But the other day the North Side Spokane resident called and asked me to come take a gander at it.
For the past six years, Ed has been decorating the garage he put up behind his tidy home with a trove of oddball collectibles and garage-sale treasures.
I put Ed’s offer on hold for a couple of days. And then I thought, why not? I can’t spend my entire life railing against corrupt cops, inept politicians and bureaucrat boneheads.
So Friday morning I drove up to North Howard. I followed Ed’s instructions to go through the front gate and come around to the garage in the back.
I stepped through the door.
Old hubcaps. Vintage license plates. Beer signs. Signed celebrity photographs. Arcade games. A 1963 Gerry Lindgren running trophy.
A Scooby Doo popcorn maker. A handmade wooden stagecoach. A Coke machine. A multicolored assortment of plastic radios …
I began suffering from eyeball overload as I tried to visually process the hundreds and hundreds of, um, exhibits Ed had hung from walls and the ceiling or stacked neatly on shelves.
In one section he even created his own ’50s diner.
I asked Ed to explain how this madness got started. “My wife told me I could build this if I quit smoking, so I did,” he told me. “So the other day I asked her if I could add a carport if I quit swearing.
“She told me to go to hell.”
It doesn’t take much more than a punch line like that one to realize the truth of the Man Shop Museum.
Ed is the real prize of this collection. The stocky 57-year-old radiates mirth like a space heater.
Ed told me he earns a paycheck performing custodial duties at two Spokane high schools. One of them is Shadle, the very school from which he graduated in 1970. Back then he was known as “Fast Eddie.” This was due to his passion for rodding around in souped-up rides. “I knocked a hole in the muffler to make it louder,” he said of his first hot car, a ’54 Chevy two-door.
As we chatted, I noticed a giant green inflatable Hulk doll leering down at me from the ceiling.
Ed said Hulk was a thank-you present for putting his ’35 Ford on display at a local grocery store.
There’s a side benefit to having so many things. Ed said he can hang a new item on the wall and it might be months before his wife will realize he has made another purchase.
For the record, Claudia, Ed’s wife of 39 years, was not present to defend herself. After meeting Ed, however, I’m placing a bet that this woman has the patience of a saint.
Ed’s pretty good-hearted himself. He talked about the dinners he has hosted in his museum for groups of seniors and widows.
“There’s no charge. I just love to show my shop,” he said. “Bring me an old license plate and I’m happier than hell.”
Every item has a story in the Man Shop Museum.
That 5-foot plastic Santa hanging high on a wall? Ed scored that in a yard sale for 10 bucks. The owner said her husband bought it in 1963 and the kids didn’t want it.
The silver suit of armor?
“I helped a guy do some moving, and he couldn’t really pay me,” explained Ed. “So he gave me the knight.”
The mannequin dressed in a vintage gas station uniform? Ed saw it standing on a porch. The woman who came to the door said her husband once owned a Shell station. When Ed told her he’d like to put it on display, she gave it to him.
I left the Man Shop Museum in a lighthearted mood. Meeting characters like Ed is one of the real perks of a job like mine.
“There’s no end to having fun,” said Ed of his Garage Ma-haul. “You go. You go. You go. And when I pass, my kids can take it.”
Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.