“We have collected 54,800 marbles. We have some from Australia made of fruit. We also make marbles on our small kiln and make jewelry out of them. We are retired teachers. 15 years ago we never thought we would be doing this. We were living in Pensacola and volunteered for the University of West Florida. We found our first marble on a dig. It was a black marble and we started investigating. It was a ballot ball. When the Spanish occupied Pensacola, the soldiers and officers were illiterate and voted with black balls and white balls. That is where the phrase ‘blackballed’ came from. We got wrapped up in the history of marbles and try to identify all that we have. Every marble has a story.
Marbles have taken us on adventures we never dreamed we would have
We were living in Kissimmee and lost everything we owned in Hurricane Irma. We were flooded with sewage and spent three weeks in the Red Cross Shelter. We cleaned and saved most of the marbles and paperweights. We are looking at moving to Mobile in March or April. I think we found a place and we are excited about being here.
Making marbles is a creative process. They have a life and we give them give them to waitresses, kids, anyone. Marbles left in a box are dead. The ones I am giving to you are named Citrus, Blue Heron, and Everglades.
We have made marbles with Dave McCullough in Ohio. He is about 75. He is the last American marble maker and uses a 1932 machine. When he is gone. that will be the last of marble making in the United States. Starting in 1930, companies were making three trainloads of marbles a day. They did this for twenty years. Where did all of those marbles go? People dumped them in trash dumps. We have found over 2,000 marbles in old sand lanes and dirt roads. In the sand tracks, we have found games with marbles left by kids in the middle of games decades ago. They were called in for supper and never came back to the game.
We have found marbles around toilets, wells, and outhouses from 100 years ago. Marbles dropped out of the pockets of little boys doing their thing. We go to abandoned marble maker sites. In Sisterville. West Virginia, we looked for a company named Alley. Some said they never made them there. We went down a ravine and I fell off about 15 feet into the stream below. But I found a one-inch Alley shooter. I broke my wrist and had proof of the Alley marble in that area. We crawled to a trailer close by and got a ride to our car.
We are writing a book called Marbles, Legends, Lores, and Lies. Marbles have taken us on adventures that we never dreamed we would have.”