LUFKIN, Texas — Israel Jones is not your average 10 year old.
The Lufkin Daily News reports that upon entering the Jones family home, evidence of Israel’s vast collection of ancient artifacts is immediately visible. From traffic lights to parking meters, Israel has it all.
“It’s mostly vintage electric stuff – old model trains, old computer stuff,” Israel said. “All the new stuff is plastic and junky.”
Israel’s father Dayton Jones said he always liked to take things apart.
“When he was 2, he got interested in a power strip,” said Gina Jones, mother of Israel. “He was in love with the power strip and the way he could redirect it. We would come into the living room, and he would unplug all the lights from where we had them. They ran over to the power strip, and this power strip connected to the one. It was everywhere.
Israel called it plug-play, and Dayton said it looked forward to going home for plug-play every day.
“I started collecting old electric meters when I was 8 years old,” Israel said.
One of his favorite collections is an electric meter from the 1890s that was part of the fifth generation of electric meters ever to be invented. It is Israel’s dream to one day have a Shallenberger meter from 1888.
“This is the one I really, really want, but I’m not sure I can find one,” Israel said.
“A guy who worked for George Westinghouse, his name was Oliver Shallenberger, he literally invented the watt hour meter. He was a brilliant guy,” Dayton said. “He made his original called the Shallenberger meter, then they got a two version of it, but they were just too big and bulky and massive to be practical. Then they made one called the round face meter.”
Some of these meters only measure 5 amps compared to modern 200-amp meters because older homes did not have as many appliances as modern homes.
“A long time ago, they would charge you for the number of lights you had in your house because they only had lights,” Israel said. “So if you had four lights, the bill might be $ 20 or something.”
Dayton said it was the whole idea of Israel in the early days, and he enjoyed learning with his son. Isaiah had been talking about his many textbooks since the early days of electrical innovation, and he was watching video-on-video from YouTubers as 8-bit Guy.
“Much of the story has been explained in these textbooks,” Dayton said.
“Some of these electric meters are from the first decade of electricity. People didn’t know that, so they had all these publications to train people.”
Additionally, Israel and Dayton have learned a lot by repairing the items they collect.
“That’s the challenge – every time we get something, he has to make it work,” Dayton said.
“If he gets something that doesn’t work, he’s going to make it work,” Gina said.
So Israel typically comes out of isolator emissions with about double the amount it pays, Dayton said.
“He’s never really had any toys, and if he does, it’s for when his friends come over to his house,” Gina said.
But Israel sometimes shows its collection to its friends.
“Some of them seem interested, and a lot of them are not,” Israel said with a laugh. “All they care about are Apple watches and what’s new.”
Israel now has several public telephones from different eras, 29 electricity meters, 250 insulators and “lots” of fire alarms.
Every wall in Israel’s bedroom is covered with fire alarms dating from a wide range of years, which Gina said suddenly triggered on New Years Eve this year.
On every road trip or vacation, the Jones family travels the land in search of new collectibles.
“He searches all the traffic lights, he searches for anything along the tracks, he watches all the power lines, constantly looking for glass insulators and vintage railroad lighting,” Dayton said. .
“A lot of that stuff is really gone. The state and everyone has replaced all the old, vintage traffic light systems, and the railways have taken out all the old pole lines. Everything has been modernized, even over the past 10 years. “
Israel and her father will be heading to shows like the Lone Star Insulator Club Insulator Shows, and older collectors will love Israel.
“They say it will be the future of their club,” Dayton said.
Dayton and Israel are also part of a local amateur radio operator club, and Israel is working on obtaining its HAM radio license. He said that one day he would like to be an electrical engineer, but he’s not sure yet.
“This is my collection,” he said, beaming.