Mike Linderman is no stranger to curating collections. As site director for Angel Mounds State Historic Site, it is his job. But Linderman has been a collector his whole life, starting with an antique Dahlberg Pillow Speaker Radio purchased when he was 12 that today holds a special place in his office.
While he purchased his first radio as a kid, he didn’t truly start his radio collection — now including close to 70 vintage radios — until the last 10 years. Today, his collection includes everything from old jukeboxes to model vintage cars that fill his space at Angel Mounds.
Some of his favorite items to collect are pieces related to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! franchise and items from different world’s fairs, including a Ripley’s sign, an autographed Ripley’s Believe It or Not! book, and a compact, menu, ash tray, model of Seattle’s Space Needle, and toy bus from the Chicago World’s Fair.
“One of my favorite things is a combo of world’s fair and Ripley’s,” says Linderman. “Ripley’s had a museum at the world’s fair in Chicago, and this guy would write your name on a grain of rice. They would glue it on this little card that would say ‘From the Ripley’s Odditorium.’ That’s one of my prized possessions.”
His fascination with Ripley’s began in elementary school with a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! book in his school’s library he would read again and again. He loves world’s fair items, he says, because it was where new technology and inventions were revealed before the days of the internet.
“I like to put things out that people will ask questions about,” says Linderman. “It’s the museum guy in me. I’ll sit and explain things to them. This is my own pop culture museum I guess.”
For more information about Angel Mounds State Historic Site, call 812-853-3956 or visit indianamuseum.org/angel-mounds-state-historic-site.