Oct. 7 – EBENSBURG – Even though Stephen Mihaly owns more than 20,000 pieces of presidential memorabilia, there’s one in particular he makes sure to bring to any presentation – a Richard Nixon shower head.
The three-dimensional image of Nixon’s face has a circular opening in the mouth where water would come out when used.
“People still love the Nixon showerhead,” Mihaly said.
Mihaly plans to have the item with him when he performs his free show “Marketing the Presidency – A Visual Tour of 125 Years of Presidential Artifacts” at the Borough of Ebensburg Building, 300 West High St.t. , Wednesday, from 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Cambria County Historical Society.
“I’m taking the audience through essentially a visual journey of the past 125 years or so of campaign articles that presidential candidates or their campaigns have produced to try to get people, like you and me, to vote for them. “said Mihaly, who is a resident of Gibsonia, Allegheny County.
Mihaly’s extensive collection includes buttons, ribbons, pennants, hats and rarer items, such as an 1896 William McKinley “Soap Baby” tub toy, Dwight Eisenhower “IKE” sugar cubes, a Theodore Roosevelt 1904 beer and a James Monroe snuffbox.
“From my point of view, the weirder the better,” Mihaly said when discussing the items he likes.
Mihaly has been collecting for more than half a century – ever since his father gave him a collection of 10 country macaroons at a garage sale.
“You have, say, 10 pimples,” Mihaly said. “Now you’re looking for No. 11. You get No. 11 and now you’re looking for No. 12. Then you start telling people that you collect these things. …
“Kind of fast forwarding 50 years, I’m basically doing the same thing except the collection has grown way beyond the original 10 pieces.”