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"Dad taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, he didn't teach me everything he knows."
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 6 June 2018  

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Bill Radford

  The house of eclectic goods
  By Bill Radford

   C.J. Whitney's place would be paradise for the stars of TV's "American Pickers," who roam the country in search of antiques and collectibles.
   
   "I collect a little bit of everything," Whitney said. "It just keeps showing up."
   
   There is the barn filled with antique cars. Garage walls adorned with license plates from not just across the country, but the world. And a room packed with surprises, holding not just all the elements of an old-fashioned soda and ice cream shop but just about anything else you can think of: a phone booth with a Superman costume hanging inside; a collection of ice cream scoops; one of the earliest radios. He also has dental equipment from the days when Whitney's father was a dentist, including a kid's dental chair and an X-ray machine. And there are toys from Whitney's childhood.
   
   Like him, "My mom saved a lot of stuff," he said.
   
   There is a complete party room, with a pinball machine, a jukebox and a slot machine. "You can gamble here for nothing," Whitney said.
   
   There is no way you can take everything in with one visit. "I've had people come back years late, and ask, 'Where did you get this?' And It's been here forever,” Whitney said.
   
   Many of the items will have you asking: What's that? There is a high chair that also functions as a potty chair and bouncy chair; a fold-up, movable bathtub; a device that stores used before cash registers came along, with a cable that would carry money across the store.
   
   "I like to find oddball things, a lot of stuff that you don't see every day," Whitney said.
   The 87-year-old Whitney has lived in Falcon since 1966. Asked what has changed in the area since then, he said, with a smile, "Everything."
   
   He grew up in Kansas; it was there he met his wife, Wilma. He had just bought a bright red, 1950 Ford convertible. Wilma was walking down the main road in the town of Lakin with a friend when she spotted Whitney in the car, and expressed her determination to ride in it. "So later on that evening, I gave her a ride,” he said. “I always say it was the car that got us together, not me."
   
   Whitney has always had a mechanical aptitude. As a kid, he said, "We always had some kind of motorized thing, motorcycles and motor scooters. They'd break down, I'd learn how to fix them."
   He put those skills to use in the United States Air Force, maintaining aircraft; and then at Colorado Interstate Gas, where he worked for more than 30 years on everything from World War II-era planes to, in later years, jets. Those skills still come in handy with his collection of Model T's and other antique vehicles. He has built several cars,"just out of old, rusty junk,” he said.
   
   Whitney has been retired since 1991, and is an active member of Falcon Senior Services; this month's luncheon is at his house. "It's just like being on vacation all the time," he said of retirement.
   
   He lost Wilma in 2012; they had been married for 61 years. Wilma Whitney was active in the community, serving on the board of directors of Falcon Senior Services and the District 49 Board of Education. Whitney has a son and three daughters –- one of whom is still in the area –- seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
   
   When he is not tinkering with his cars or driving them around (listen for the sound of his Model T horn that sounds like a cow mooing), you might find Whitney playing his musical instrument of choice: the saw. (It involves a saw and a bow. "Learn in a week, but a lifetime to master," proclaims musicalsaw.com.)
   
   "It takes a little practice to figure it out," Whitney said. "You have to bend the saw a certain way."
  
C.J. Whitney’s hobbies and activities also include playing music on a saw.
 
C.J. Whitney, who has lived in Falcon since 1966, has a party room filled with all kinds of goodies, including a pinball machine, a jukebox and a slot machine.
 
C.J. Whitney gets ready to drive his Model T. He restores old cars. Photos by Bill Radford
 
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