~Who Am I?~
I feel like I have come to know quite a few of my site users over the years by e-mail contacts, so I felt that some of you may like to know who I am... maybe not. LOL
(Majel Barrett-Roddenberry and myself)
Anyway, my name is Mike, but known to most as Gummby3. I was born in Pasadena, Texas and have spent most of my life in the state, except for a 5 year period in Oklahoma. I've been disabled since birth with a walk disorder. Towards my high school graduation in the mid 80's, I was looking for something that I could do as a hobby with my limitations. Collecting was the obvious choice. I had already been collecting comic books for years, so collecting autographs seemed like a logical next step. It turns out that I had been collecting signatures, to a small degree, without even knowing it. I had an early 80's Houston Oilers team photo handed out by two players. They visited my junior high at one time for a pep rally and both signed the photo for those that wanted them. I also had signatures from two of members of their cheerleader squad, The Derrick Dolls, that I received at a Little League baseball game. It took some hunting, but I found the autographs stashed in with some of my kid stuff in the closet years later. Around that time in the mid 80's, Houston was getting a LOT of 'Star Trek' and comic book conventions, so I started hitting all of them that I could. At the time, convention autographs were running anywhere from $10-$15. There were some celebs that charged $20, but that was rare and pretty pricey then. I miss those days... Being a 'Trek' fan, I was especially interested in getting the original cast. Except for one, this task was accomplished over a 15 year span. As DeForest Kelley was to frail at that time to travel out of state, I received two signatures from a reliable source. In the long run, I was able to get not only one, but two sets of the original cast. One on 8x10s and the other on index cards which I now have professionally matted with a cast photo. Those two successes are considered my highest accomplishments. Surprisingly, my first official "went out as a fan for an autograph" success wasn't from the original cast but from this new spin-off show called 'Star Trek: The Next Generation'. This was about mid-way in their first season. There was a small advertisement buried in the entertainment section of the Houston Chronicle about a public autograph session in a local shopping mall. It was for one of the 'TNG' stars, Wil Wheaton. He was 15 years old at the time and was making the rounds on a Paramount publicity stint to increase the word about the new show. I was already watching it, of course, but I also remembered Wheaton from a movie that had come out around that time called 'Stand By Me'. I met him and he was my first "fan" autograph. He was very nice and polite to everyone in the extremely long line that strung it's way outside of the mall. More on Wheaton later.
(Wil Wheaton circa 1988)
I'm still working on completing the full casts of all of the current 'Trek' spin-offs. I'm missing 1 or 2 on one or two of the shows, a few more, here and there, on the others. The hunt is one of the things that makes this hobby so fun. Another plus that's happened to conventions over the last few year is that they are moving more away from 'Star Trek' only and are now incorporating stars from other show genres. My collection has grown considerably with the ability to add these people. I am now working on completing cast autographs of other shows I've enjoyed over the years.
('Batman' Adam West) ('Breakfast Club' Anthony Michael Hall) ('Creature From The Black Lagoon' Ben Chapman)
In '97, I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma for a change of pace. I got a job working at a collectibles store, go figure. It turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. I was in the vein of all of the inside info for conventions and other celebrity event signings. We even had a few in-store signings which was great. Don Knotts was probably the best.
(Booker T) (Don Knotts)
While in Tulsa, I attended the annual Trek Expo conventions. I eventually started volunteering and found myself on the event staff within the last couple of years. I've always enjoyed meeting the celebrities for autographs and now my enjoyment has doubled by being able to talk to them behind the scenes. If you ever make it to the Tulsa area during June, I would recommend attending the convention. I have met many stars of sci-fi and cult TV shows through these conventions. As I said earlier, there is more about Wil Wheaton. By an ironic twist of fate, Wil was to be one of the guests at the 2003 convention and I was assigned to help him out at his table for that weekend. Both he and his wife are very nice people and were genuinely appreciative of the fans all three days. Anyway, we had chances to talk during the lulls in the crowd lines. I recounted to him about his signing at the mall in Texas all those 15 years ago. After refreshing his memory with tidbits, his face lit up and it all came back to him, especially about him having his mother play his new CD over the speakers as he signed. At this convention, he was selling his new autobiography that had recently gone to print, "Dancing Barefoot". Not only did I receive the book free as a gift for helping out, he also signed and inscribed it to reflect the time I first met him and the time I got to meet him again (see below).
It was while I was living in Oklahoma that I got involved with through the mail autograph collecting. I started off reading the few Yahoo message groups related to the hobby and learned quite a bit from the friends that I met through the messages. I started accumulating addresses through those messages. I ended up filling 3 binders with hand written addresses. While I have been collecting autographs for years before I moved to Oklahoma, I owe the creation of this website to my cousin Reesa Shearer. She knew that I was driving myself crazy trying to keep the binders updated (marking out bad addresses, adding new ones, etc.), so she suggested that I take a stab at doing something online with the information. This lead to me creating the first Star Collector website on Geocities. She was instrumental in helping me get the information in a legible form for me to transfer to the website. Even after all of these years, AND living in two separate states, she continues to be instrumental in updates and keeping Star Collector what it is today. This began as a joint project and is still fun to work on to this day. As for the Geocities site, that lasted about a year. I simply outgrew the limited drive space provided. Now that I think about it, the original site main page is probably still floating around somewhere in the waves of the internet... A couple of years later, I found myself living in Texas again. Due to some health problems, I was off my feet with not much to do. I found a web hosting company that was reasonable on their rates and bought the domain name. The next step was creating the website. I happened to have a web design software in my collection and I bought a dummy's guide to learn it. As I said, I had a LOT of free time. I eventually taught myself the software and the rest is history.
The current incarnation of Star Collector is now 5 years old and growing stronger every day. My goal is to keep the website free of charge. My reasoning is that I was helped free of charge when I first started this TTM hobby and I shouldn't charge for the same assistance. As long as I can financially keep the site running, it will stay that way. If it gets to the point where the money is tight, I'll close the site rather than make it a pay site.
I do hope that this little bit of insight into who I am has been worth the read. I value my users of the site and the friends that I have made over the years with the hobby.
[[ December 8, 2006 ]]