Sunday, March 9, 2008

Beer on the wall: Family finds fun in collecting more than 700 cans of beer

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

Nothing's conspicuous about the garage itself.
It's what's inside that catches the attention of passersby.
'Apparently you can see it from the street,' said owner Sue Judd. 'People will be walking or jogging, and they'll come up to see what it's all about.'
She giggled as she pointed at the massive display of aluminum behind her. More than 700 beer cans sat in the wooden display case her husband, John, had made for them.
'The most frequent question we get is, 'Did you drink all that?' Even if we did, it wouldn't have been all at once,' Mrs. Judd joked. 'This is about collecting.' There are beer cans of all sorts: tall, short, wide, narrow, black, white, rainbow and even some half-breeds - cans that have cone-shaped tops with twist-off caps. Most of the regulars are unopened, their tabs still sealed firmly in place. All the beer had been drained from holes cut in the cans' bottoms.
One shelf is full of Kentucky Derby beer cans, and others pay homage to beer cans devoted to the Super bowl, baseball, Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.
On one of the middle shelves sits a stunt double for a bottle of A1 Steak Sauce. It's actually an A1 Steak beer can.
Faces of U.S. presidents, Robin Hood, goofy animals and beautiful blond women smile on other beer cans. There's brands like Lucky Light, Dixie, Buffalo Beer, Schiz Tall Boy, Harley Davidson, Billy Beer, Budweiser, Bud Light, Stag and Old Frothing Slosh.
Some are well traveled, having come from Japan and Mexico.
'I don't know what any of it is worth, and I'm not sure which is the oldest,' Mrs. Judd said. 'But I know we have some from the 60s. Most are from the 70s. That's when all this was popular.'
Residents of Temple since 2004, Mr. and Mrs. Judd spent the heyday of their beer can collecting days in Chicago, Ill. They said they routinely went to beer can conventions, always in search of a rare print.
'It was something the whole family got into,' Mrs. Judd said. 'Our three daughters loved it when they were small.'
Middle-child Karla Rossi, who's still in Chicago, claims to have been the first of the Judd can collectors.
'I started it,' Mrs. Rossi said. 'I'd keep the neater soda cans, the ones I liked. I kept them on the windowsill. It turned into something that the whole family could contribute to.'
Mrs. Judd can't remember which child started saving the cans.
'I just know I came in one day and saw a long line of cans at the window,' Mrs. Judd said. 'All the girls shared the room.'
Big sister Victoria Rodriguez of Temple corroborates her sister's story.
'Yeah, (Mrs. Rossi) was the one who started saving them,' Mrs. Rodriguez said. 'But it didn't take long for the rest of us to get in on it. Beer collecting was real popular. It was the craze at the time, a 70s thing to do.'
Mrs. Rossi and Jennifer Elliott of Chicago, the youngest sister, still collect beer cans. They either keep them or give them to Dad as gifts.
'It's not a house without beer,' Mrs. Elliott said. 'I can't imagine a home without beer cans.'
She and Mrs. Rossi want to be the collection's caretakers if Mom and Dad ever want to give it up.
Mrs. Rodriguez is OK with that. She said she's outgrown 'everything beer.'
'I don't want anything to do with it,' Mrs. Rodriguez said. 'I don't care if I ever get any part of it. But my husband does. He'd like to have it.'
Mrs. Judd laughed at the thought of the future of the beer can collection, at what could cause a squabble between her grown daughters.
'The wall's future is not yet determined,' Mrs. Judd said. 'We'll deal with it later. They just need to remember it was all started in fun.'

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