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Wisconsin Farmer Is Crazy About Caps
Gene Dittman could wear a different cap every day for more than six years without wearing the same one twice.
  But in reality, the executive director and founding member of the National Cap and Patch Association (NCPA) says few of his more than 2,300 caps ever get worn. Most remain nearly as clean as the day he got them.
  Dittman is far from the largest collector. One association member reports having 33,000 caps in his collection, while a second claims 10,000. Several have 5,000 to 6,000 caps in their collections.
  "I expect if we added up all the caps among our 30 members, we would have well more than 100,000 caps," says Dittman.
  The former dairy farmer would like to see that number increase. As executive director of the association, he's always looking for new members who share the cap collecting passion. Dittman will send a club newsletter, member directory, and a membership cap to anyone willing to send in the $17 membership fee. A free copy of the newsletter is available on request.
  Dittman's cap collecting began one day when he looked at a pile of caps on his dresser and decided to do something with them. He has continued for 18 years and doesn't plan to stop.
  "Being a farmer, it seems you wear a cap from the time you're born till the day you die," says Dittman.
  Today, caps line the ceiling of his wife's craft shop in the basement of their home. They're arranged by type, with centennial caps, beer caps, company caps, bank caps and farm show caps all congregated in their own groups. He has more than 150 John Deere caps, which he reports are particularly popular and in the most demand.
  Duplicates go in a box for trading at shows and among fellow members. Favorites get worn on a daily basis.
  "I kind of fell in love with our association's 10th anniversary cap," says Dittman. "I'm wearing that one out."
  Most caps come to Dittman as single gifts from friends and relatives who know about his passion. Recently, his wife brought home a real treat. Their bank teller handed over 100 caps her husband had collected.
  "It was quite a thing when I walked in the door that night, and she said she had a surprise for me," recalls Dittman. "You don't get 100 caps everyday."
  For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gene Dittman, National Cap and Patch Association, 1521 240th St., Emerald, Wisconsin 54012 (ph 715 265-7407).

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1999 - Volume #23, Issue #5