Pine man highlights history with presidential trinkets at Fox Chapel library
A collection of “odd and goofy” trinkets will be on display at Cooper-Siegel Community Library for people who have a passion for U.S. history or simply a penchant for unusual tchotchkes.
Pine resident Steve Mihaly will bring about 300 pieces — from his collection of 25,000 — that were once used to market presidential campaigns.
He has a showerhead shaped like Richard Nixon’s face through which water shoots from the 37th president’s mouth.
A cast-iron doorstop depicts Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president, charging up the San Juan hill.
There are four figurines of John Kennedy Jr. saluting JFK’s casket. And there are FDR stove covers that when put on a hot burner make the 28th president’s face glow.
Mihaly will present his program at 6:30 p.m. July 25 at the library, 403 Fox Chapel Road.
He defines his favorites in the collection as “the weirder the better.”
Mihaly’s visual tour is about marketing the presidency.
For 45 minutes, he’ll share history using items from his collection to add spice. It isn’t a political discussion, but rather a pictorial journey through time.
He premiered the historical show four years ago after he retired as a vice president of H.J. Heinz Corp.
Since then, he’s shared his addiction to presidential history at museums and colleges, historical societies and senior-living communities.
He said he has been collecting POTUS-related items for 50 years.
A room in his home is filled with materials related to the top job in the U.S.
Two bookcases are filled with plates, scarves, letters, knickknacks and pictures.
A large cupboard has stacks of picture frames displaying ribbons, buttons and handwritten items. Alongside these bits of history are “chunks of joy,” like the jack-in-a-box that plays “Hail to the Chief” and pops out George H.W. Bush, the 41st president.
Mihaly estimates there are about 500 collectors of political Americana in the country. He has met four presidents through his hobby and all enjoyed collecting their own marketing items, he said.
A bit of trivia, he said, is that the first campaign buttons were for the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.
Mihaly said many people enjoy history like he does, especially election-related gossip.
With the items he brings, he tries to put a little fun into the past.