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Thursday, November 6, 2003
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Roth relives childhood through collecting

By Natalie Smith

When Don Roth was 4 years old, he was already showing interest in learning how things work by tearing apart his mom's sewing machine.

Systems Administrator Don Roth with a small sample from his many collections -- these are from his collection of vintage Penton Sports Motorcycles.Photo courtesy of Don Roth"When things break, I can get them fixed again," said Roth, systems administrator in Ohio University's department of Physics and Astronomy, as he glanced about his office where tools, keyboards and computer parts line the space. "If you look around, you see I don't mind taking things apart."

In addition to computers, Roth also puts his mechanical skills to use on his large collection of old jukeboxes, pinball machines, televisions and motorcycles that comprise his garage at home. After scouring eBay, auctions and yard sales, he buys the broken "toys," fixes them himself and then sells the items to friends "at ridiculously low prices."

"I lose money every time," Roth said, "but I make friends."

Roth began collecting 20 years ago as a way of "reliving [his] childhood." Currently, his collection includes two pinball machines, one jukebox and "way too many old TVs," which he mostly uses for parts. His largest collection consists of vintage Penton Sports Motorcycles that are no longer made.

"In their day, they were the best," he said. "Now I can afford to buy them. When I was a kid, I couldn't."

The majority of Roth's items are from the 1960s to 1970s. However, his most prized possession, a Seeburg Jukebox, is from 1950. He bought the broken jukebox for $150, and once he repaired it, he estimated its current worth at approximately $4,000.

Roth's wife, Marta, said she enjoys his hobby and doesn't mind sharing their home with the numerous mechanical parts.

"It's a compromise," she said. "His jukeboxes, radios and pinball machines are part of our game room. We all enjoy the fruits of his labors."

Roth said he hopes his collection is never complete, and there is just one item he wishes he had ? "a bigger garage."

Natalie Smith is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.
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