OROVILLE, Calif.— Once used for smoking, now they can be admired at a museum. You may be thinking, ‘An ashtray museum, really?’ But ashtrays were once used for more than just smoking. They were home décor, pieces of art that were admired by many.
Today, you would be hard-pressed to find an ashtray. That's not true if you visit Oroville. Dean Lantrip spent the better part of his retirement collecting and creating an ashtray museum.
Dean passed away in 2012, but his son, Cal, still manages the collection.
"My dad had a great sense of humor. There was no smoking in the ashtray museum," said Cal Lantrip.
The collection started in the mid-1990's. After retiring as Oroville’s Postmaster, Dean went on a nationwide tour to collect and preserve any and all relics of tobacco’s past. Most come from antique stores, but many were gifts. Some date back to the 1800's, but each one represents a time in smoking history.
"Every holiday, birthday, Father’s Day, we would get him an ashtray and we would try and trump each other’s gift, me and my sisters," said Cal.
Just in case you are wondering, Dean was a smoker. But when he passed away in 2012, it wasn't smoking that killed him.
"It was found only after he passed away that he had an aspergillus mold infection," Cal said.
For a number of years, the ashtrays were on display at a museum funded by the City of Oroville, but when that funding went away Cal had to box up his dad's ashtrays and put them in storage at his mother's house.
Right now, the ashtrays are boxed up, and Cal is desperately trying to find the collection a proper home.
“To me they are a better museum piece than used to smoke in the house," said Cal. “I could see it in a place like Las Vegas or another Indian Casino."
Dean Lantrip spent the better part of his retirement collecting ashtrays. He didn't do it memorialize smoking. He collected ashtrays because no one else was. There was a time in our history when smoking was widely accepted. Today, it’s not, and Dean Lantrip’s ashtray collection is a reminder why.
"If you want to do something for your kids, collect something odd and give it to your kids to take care of," said Cal.
Continue the conversation with John Bartell on Facebook.
WATCH MORE: Aurobindo Pharmaceuticals issued a recall on several of their blood pressure medications, saying they could contain an ingredient that could cause cancer. They are just the latest in a string of recalls of other blood pressure medications in the past six months -- all pulled for the same reason.