Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
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Couple share passion for collecting

Skip Shaw considers himself one of the oldest Key Largo natives on the island. Sit with the 70-year-old for a couple of hours and you are certain to hear tales of his voyages on the high seas.

But Shaw, whose sea adventures are now fewer, has taken up another passion: collecting fishing reels.

Shaw has more than 200 reels in his downstairs workshop, some with values in the thousands of dollars. Each day, as part of his routine, he scours eBay for his next reel project.

"Sometimes I'll spend $40 on a reel and sometimes it might be $100," he said.

After purchasing a reel, Shaw takes pride in the meticulous work of taking them apart and restoring them to their former glory.

"They don't make them like this anymore," he said holding a Ted Williams-brand casting reel sold by Sears, Roebuck & Company more than 50 years ago.

His collection reaches back to his father and grandfather.

"I never thought I'd ever be doing this," Shaw said while working his way through a pack of Winstons. "You never think you'll live to be 70."

Shaw's collection includes Vomhof, Pflueger and Capitals. The sizes of his reels vary due to the length of line they hold -- usually from 100 to 400 yards.

Shaw, who owns the property on which D-Hooker Sports Bar & Grill sits, isn't looking to make money off his hobby.

"I'm not looking to sell it," he said. "I'm going to leave it for my kids, and make them deal with all this [stuff]."

Shaw said he is baffled by how much some of his childhood toys, which he refered to as "junk," are now worth online.

"People will pay for anything," he said.

Shaw's wife, Diane, has the collecting bug as well, though her pleasure has always been antique glass bottles. She honed that skill when the couple spent 16 years on a sailboat traveling throughout the Caribbean Sea.

"I hate diving," she said, noting she was never keen on swimming with the sharks. While her husband went off to explore the ocean bottoms, Diane found herself tromping along the shores of small islands, looking for glass.

"When you see broken glass, you start digging," she said.

Diane has immortalized their travels in a book, "The Best Years of Our Lives: Voyages on the Xenophora." Diane said she sent copies of the book to everyone she knows.

"It's something she can give to our kids," Skip added.

Nowadays, Diane paints sea creatures and other ocean life on old navigational maps and her art can be found on display throughout the Keys. But she doesn't keep a daily date with the paint brushes.

She occasionally paints, "but only when I feel like it," she says.

The two say they are content with their hobbies at their Upper Keys home and enjoy sharing tales of their journeys with any passerby willing to listen.

jgore@keysnews.com

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