Retired logger fills trailer with hats
So many hats and only one head!
Most people with a vacant mobile home would rent it or sell it. But Frost resident Ben Buzzard is not most people. The 73-year old retired logger filled his backyard single-wide with hats, which he started collecting four years ago. Ball caps, Panamas, cowboy hats, Army hats, funny hats, fedoras, top hats - he has them all.
Incredibly, the collector has amassed more than 4,600 hats in just four short years. Most of the hats come from Ben's plentiful friends, who sometimes bring him boxes full of hats.
A faded sign, nailed to a tree outside Buzzard's Route 92 home, alerts travelers, "collecting hats." Buzzard said several strangers have stopped by to donate hats and admire his collection -- including a group of tourists from China, who were on their way to Cass Scenic Railroad.
More than 4,600 sounds like a lot, but appears even more impressive. Hats cover every wall, ceiling and floor in the backyard hat museum. After covering the walls, Buzzard strung clotheslines from wall to wall and hung his hats there. Now that the walls and ceilings are covered, he piles them -- layer upon layer -- on the floor.
An aficionado before becoming a collector, Buzzard said companion Hilda Sharp got tired of picking up his hats in their Frost home. He was fixing up a mobile home at the time and decided it would be perfect for extra closet space -- but just for his hats.
"Well, the only reason I done it -- Hilda said I had to do something with my hats," he said. "I said, I got this trailer all fit and finished over here. I pulled it in here and said I'll just take them out there and hang them up in there and I'll go collecting hats."
Sitting on the end of a hat-covered couch -- the only vacant spot in the middle of the hat cach� -- Buzzard said he wasn't sure why he chose headgear, rather than coins, stamps or other, more common collectibles.
"Well, I don't know why," he said. "My daddy was a junkman. He collected everything. I don't know why I done it. I tacked some hats up in here and said 'I'll just fill this trailer up if I can get the hats.' And, by gosh, it's full, ain't it?"
Despite the uniqueness of his collection, Buzzard balked at the idea of opening a for-profit tourist attraction.
"Anybody can come and see it -- anybody that wants," he said. "No, I don't charge nothing."
The former logger said he would continue collecting hats as long as he lives.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with them," he said. "They'll be here when I'm dead and gone."
All of Buzzard's friends and neighbors hope that day is a long way off. Like his hat collection to him, Buzzard is a treasure to his family and community.