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Political buttons on display at Toledo Public library

January 10, 2020
By John Speer , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

In observance of the first in the nation Iowa presidential caucuses coming up Feb. 3, a pair of collections of political buttons are on display now in the entrance showcases at the Toledo Public Library.

The assortments range from early presidential items to Tama County locals and more recent federal and state. Tama County Magistrate Richard Vander Mey has put together his impressive historical collection ranging back a century and more ago.

Many of his buttons are scarce both because of thier age and condition.

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Vander Mey, who grew up in Chicago recalls going downtown there during the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention there.

But he didn't go to take part or to observe the riots- "I went to collect buttons."

His collection also features an assortment of more modern day items.

He says he believes the buttons offer another window to learn about history.

I've been told by other I should tell this story

I was in first grade in Mrs. Smith's class in the Toledo school in 1956 when my parents showed up at noon and took me out of class.

We drove to a farm field near Mechanicsville where the National Plowing Matches were being held and President Eisenhower was campaigning for reelection.

The president was speaking inside a huge brown canvas tent. We were outside pretty much by ourselves and an Ike pennant was purchased to I suppose placate me.

Ike came out standing up in the back of what I remember as a black Cadillac convertible ready to wave to the crowds.

We were the only ones outside everyone else was still inside the tent. So, Ike waved at me. I wish I had that pennant.

Probably my real stimulus for the collection comes from my great aunt of which a few old-timers here might remember, Nellie Irons Ross.

A fervent Republican, she was Tama County vice chair for years. And, as a result, had a ready supply of buttons of which I sometimes got any leftovers.

But the real story of her came to me from a prominent downtown Toledo businessman years later.

He had returned home after service in World War II and was walking downtown one day when he met Nellie on the street.

She said she would like to register him for the Republican Party.

He said his reply was something like, "Oh, not right now, Mrs. Ross."

"She never spoke to me again, " he recalled.



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