Hatteberg's People - Ann Richardson

By: Larry Hatteberg Email
By: Larry Hatteberg Email

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Hutchinson, Kan. -- Ann Richardson of Hutchinson is a collector. Now many people collect things, stamps, bottles, antiques, just about anything. But what Ann has is unusual and her collection honors someone very special to her.

"I was a very ornery child and my grandmother loved me unconditionally."

Among her collection, A signed handkerchief from Helen Keller, another from Itzak Rabin, a former Israeli Prime Minister.

"It's my grandmother's legacy."

In her rural home near Hutchinson Ann Richardson has more handkerchiefs than Macy's.

"According to my closest count, there are nearly 5,000 in the collection."

But they aren't just plain old handkerchiefs. They are autographed by some of the most famous people in the world.

"It seems like every handkerchief has a history of its own. My grandmother loved handkerchiefs and in the early '30's she joined a hobby club and started collecting them from all over the world. People would travel all over the world and people would put their names on them for her."

So Ann's grandmother, Cordah Hogan began a lifetime of collecting rare autographed handkerchiefs like these First Ladies, Mrs. Grover Cleveland, Mrs. Howard Taft, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, Mrs. Teddy Roosevelt.

"One gentleman offered me a million dollars for it. But I signed a contract with my mother and said it would never be sold. It would be handed down in the family."

In Ann's basement rack after rack of celebrity handkerchiefs.

"I'm going to pull out Gordon Parks, because he passed away yesterday and he is a native Kansan. He signed it in 2001."

"I have different kinds of letters on the computer, sometimes I change it around a little bit, but I ask them to sign and date the enclosed handkerchiefs or enclose one of their own and send it back."

And there are great signed handkerchiefs in this collection, her grandmother got Babe Ruth's which he smudged it when he signed it.

Indira Ghandi, former Prime Minister of India, Former German chancellor Kurt Waldheim, Nelson Mandella of South Africa, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

And one of Ann's favorites, Amelia Earheart. The handkerchief stained over time.

"It makes you feel like you are part of their accomplishments. It's exciting. It is very exciting."

"My grandmother is always with me, every time I talk about the handkerchiefs, every time I go and do a program, I always wear my grandmother's autograph. I always feel she is right here with me all the time. A million dollars couldn't pay me for that."

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