Sawbuck Deke: It’s tough to stretch the value of a ten-dollar bill, but Bill Green had no idea his investment of a single sawbuck would take him on a marvelous journey.
In 1963, Bill wanted a new look on his fireplace mantel. He decided a decoy would give him the touch he was looking for. Without knowing any decoy collectors, Bill scanned the “For Sale” section of the classifieds and soon found a hunter who was selling his collection of 300 dekes. Bill contacted him and soon had the decoy on his mantel. That first bird cost ten dollars.
But that decoy started a new hobby for Bill, and he was soon accumulating more decoys as he built his collection of working birds. He began to wonder if there were other decoy hobbyists in Ohio and if they would be interested in sharing their pastime.
In 1972-73, Bill placed a small ad in the Toller Trader asking any other collectors with an interest in decoys to contact him. Soon-to-be good friend and collaborator Joe Smith responded to the ad, and the pair continued their search for more hobbyists.
A few years later, 1975, Bill read an article about collector and carver Vic Bracher. Bill contacted Vic and explained his idea for a club of sorts for decoy enthusiasts. Vic offered a list of hunters and collectors he knew who might be interested.
In the early summer of that same year, Bill, Tom Wistel, Dick Mader, Bill Feasel, Jim Kocher, Tom Gradel, and Joe Smith gathered at the old hotel in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, which was a centrally located town. They met at ten in the morning and broke for lunch at half past twelve. Everyone was enthusiastic, and they encouraged him to proceed with the idea of forming a club of collectors.
A planning committee of fourteen people met at the Natural History Museum in Cleveland on Sunday, May 21, 1976 to officially form the Ohio Decoy Collector’s Association. Bill was elected Chairman, Ann Taylor, Treasurer, and Larry Taylor was named Secretary. The fourteen charter members were Bill Green, Vic Bracher, Ralph Meinckie, Nelson Thomas, Joe Smith, Jim Lancer, Larry Taylor, Gene Kangas, Dave White, Jim Kocher, Allen Haid, Ellen Walters, Roy Ahlers, and Jack Atzinger.
The next get-together was held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for first Decoy Carving and Painting Seminar with Nelson and Phyllis Thomas. They asked each person to bring a decoy for identification. Charter members were asked to bring two decoys. First prize ribbons were available to those who brought decoys.
On June 22, 1977, Bill Green wrote a letter to 39 collectors which said in part:
"Anyone desiring to get together to talk about decoys three times a year contact Bill Green. I am certain that there are enough people interested to get started and make it worthwhile. So I have arbitrarily set Saturday, August 20th, as the D day. The purpose of this get-together is to primarily provide an opportunity to meet others who have the same interests, also to share, to learn, to have some fun, and especially to get rid of the feeling of 'Here I sit all alone, looking at my decoys!' To make it more interesting, bring a few to swap or sell, also share with us your experiences and even ask questions."
In 1981 the constitution was amended to include the word “Carver” thus the new name Ohio Decoy Collectors and Carvers Association. The organization’s purpose was adopted “to encourage and promote our Ohio carvers and wildlife artists, and to provide an opportunity for the beginner, as well as the advanced, collector or carver.”
And the tradition continues! At our 2016 show, over 800 entries were submitted by 164 carvers and artists in 19 events from throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. And collectors once again found an impressive, yet affordable selection of decoys available for purchase at the show and auctions.
Be sure to join us on March 11-12, 2017, when ODCCA will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary Show and Sale at the Holiday Inn in Strongsville, Ohio.