Sunday, June 1, 2003

Prize Possessions


Officer has arresting memorabilia collection

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

Who: Dean Doerman, 50, a sergeant for the Clermont County Sheriff's Office who has been collecting police, fire and ambulance memorabilia since 1984.

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Dean Doerman of Owensville shows a state trooper's car and a Clermont County sheriff's car.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
On display: Miniature vehicles, handcuffs, billy clubs, brass knuckles, jail keys, police patches and other law enforcement relics.

Where: On custom-built, Plexiglas-encased shelving in the basement of the Owensville home he shares with his wife, Rhonda, and their cat, Tinkerbell.

Sweet inspiration: Doerman, who is assigned to the Road Patrol, became a collector by chance. His first cruiser was perched atop a birthday cake. "I was into antiques a bit," he recalls. "And I thought, if I collect these cars now, by the time I retire they'll be old and worth a lot."

M.O.: Soon, he was amassing Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Road Champs, Ertl and First Gear vehicles. Then, other constabulary items began catching his eye. For example: a 1930s jail door.

Best things in life are free: "It's from the old Clermont County Jail," Doerman explains. "I talked the man who was tearing the jail down into giving it to me. It's made of solid iron and takes two to three people to lift it. But it's a classic. There's even a little slot where you can pass a tray. Right now, it's sitting out in our shed getting refinished."

Historical record: Eventually, he's planning on moving the door into his mini-museum alongside his original police call box and autographed memorabilia from the last living "Untouchable" Al "Wall Paper" Wolff, which he acquired while working for the FBI as a Drug Task Force Officer.

"When I had my picture taken with him," Doerman recalls, "he was holding a 'Tommy' gun. Meeting him was quite an experience. He worked for Eliot Ness and they called him 'Wall Paper' because when he took evidence he took everything but the wallpaper."

Usual suspects: Doerman adds to his collection by attending antique shows and auctions, and browsing flea markets. Friends and family have also purchased many items for him as gifts.

His favorite piece is a 1/43rd die-cast replica of the Clermont County Sheriff's car that he had made in 1998 by Road Champs. To pay for his collection, he sold the cars over the Internet. There were 2,592 made and he estimates that he has about 45 left (find out more about the replicas, or order one, at www.geocities.com/motorcity/factory/6613/)

More traditional decor: Mrs. Doerman has been tolerant of her husband's collectibles as long as they stay in the basement.

"If these cars were upstairs," he says, laughing, "I'd be out of the house. She says: 'The downstairs is yours, you have to clean it!' "

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202: e-mail: marsolete@aol.com. Please include a daytime/weekday phone number.




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