By: Deena Higgs Nenad
Nestled on a neat shelf in a cozy home in a small town called Edemissen, Germany is a blinking light-up pen emblazoned with The Bakersfield Californian newspaper logo. It’s a favorite of Ulli Russek, the man who lives in the home and tends to the shelf and his collection of more than 800 newspaper pens.
The logos hail from newspapers across Europe, Australia, and more than 80 from the U.S. Some, including The Brazil (Ind.) Times, the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald, The Daily Citizen in Dalton, Ga., and the North County Times in San Diego, have done tongue-and-cheek write-ups on Russek, who said he’s glad he’s never knocked over the special shelves he’s built for the collection, because “to sort them would be a lot of work.”
After Gretchen Wenner, a writer at The Californian, rustled up some logo pens (not always an easy find in today’s newsrooms), Russek sent her a thank-you postcard with a German Easter bunny on it. “I was going to scan it and do a follow-up post, but I never got around to it,” Wenner said. Russek told her he chose her newspaper because she has a German-sounding name.
Russek, a logistics man, finds his pens by trolling for interesting stories on the Internet, then e-mailing the newspaper of record. Ninety percent, he said, never respond.
“I am very happy if they write to me that they can send me a pen,” Russek said in an e-mail, which his son helped translate.
Russek’s collection began in 2002, when his two kids got some freebies from their local newspapers. They’ve since lost interest, but not Russek.
“I am interested to collect them because people need ballpoint pens every day in the whole world,” he said. “They are differently designed and formed, and it is nice to get ballpoint pens from places where I maybe never come to.”