Venice Canals resident Barry Horn loves treasure hunts. He remembers driving on Venice Boulevard while it was undergoing reconstruction and seeing a bunch of bottles at the edge. He told his wife, Debbie, that they had to turn around and go back to pick them up.
Barry has always been a collector.
“I just collect whatever it is at the moment I’m into that I’m collecting,” he says.
He was really in his element when the dredging of the canals started.
“It was a burning desire — this archeological thing that I’ve always wanted to do,” he adds.
He would come home every night from work and put on high, flat boots, grab plastic bags and seek his treasure.
“There would be a crowd out here waiting to watch me wash the stuff off to see what I found,” he says.
Although the completion of the canal restoration was a reason to celebrate, Barry was sad when the canals were finished.
“It was something that I had been doing for a year or however long it took,” he says. “It was so much fun. I haven’t been able to replace that particular pleasure yet.”
It’s fascinating to walk into Barry’s small canal cottage, which is filled from top to bottom. The floors are covered with his collections.
“Obviously, in the house, space is the limitation,” he says.
Whatever isn’t buried or waiting in stacks to be hung on the walls is in his brother’s house, his best friend’s house and office, and his warehouse.
Barry’s favorite find is what he calls “Canal Boy.” It is part of his doll head collection.
“The heads seem to be frozen in time — the faces, the patina,” he says. A leg was found in addition to numerous heads. The mystery is — what happened to the bodies?
Canal bottles were added to his Venice Boulevard bottle collection.
“I found old sodas that I had as a kid that you don’t see anymore — Nehi, RC Cola, old Coke,” says Barry. “The soda bottles had thick glass which tended to hold up under time, whereas milk bottles were thin and big and tended to get shattered or crushed.”
One of the bottles is from “Venice West Coast Beverage in Venice CA.” Another bottle in his collection, from Delaware Punch, dated 1924, was found in his neighbor’s house.
Marbles ended up being Barry’s favorite thing to find. He became intrigued by the small bright objects that he pulled out of the mud.
“Ultimately it led me to become a fairly serious marble collector,” he says. “I could have 10,000 marbles by now.”
Most of the marbles that Barry found in the canals were scratched and discolored by time. “They were interesting because they were found in the canals, but once you become a collector the obsession is to find that perfect marble,” he adds.
Barry bought books on marbles to look up some of the marbles that he found and he began going to marble shows.
“I started buying marbles, selling a few marbles and then it evolved into contemporary marbles,” he says. Then he gave up.
“It was the kind of thing where if you wanted to spend the money — it was getting too easy,” he adds. “The fun was in finding them.
“It got too serious when I started spending $1,000 on marbles. Then you’re losing your marbles when you start doing that.”
Now Barry is collecting paperweights. He figures that he has about 100 of them. Part of the problem in collecting is that sometimes the items don’t get cleaned.
“It’s something that I rarely have the energy for because I’m so busy,” he says. “It takes too long to individually wash each paperweight to where it gets shiny. They gather dust very quickly.”
He also has collections of masks, animal artwork, artwork in general, American Indian art, tiki objects, bottle cap art and much more. One of his newest categories is poodles — two cast pieces, a bank and a Jim Beam bottle.
There are more Jim Beam bottles — Elmer Fudd, ducks, hippies, a cowboy and Mortimer Snerd.
“Jim Beam bottles are a whole collectible thing,” says Barry. “Every year they make a certain number other than the general glass you see.”
Barry has lived in Venice for 20 years and has a Venice collection. Venice artists in his collection include Greg Moll and Ray Packard. His Venice books include those about the beat poets because he has a family connection. His mother’s first cousin was Stuart Perkoff.
“One of the first things I did when we moved to Venice was to learn about Stuart Perkoff — just from coming in contact with people who knew him — the few that were left,” says Barry. “Then we started collecting a lot of his books and poetry. I never met him. He probably wouldn’t have talked to us. Everyone was very straight for him.”
“Another interesting character was Aunt Heather Perkoff, my mother’s sister,” says Barry. “She lived in Marina del Rey on a boat in the late ’70s. She was one of the first people involved in the boat parade.”
Barry also had connections with antique stores.
“Several knew that I collected Venice stuff and they put them aside for me,” he says.
He has yearbooks from Venice High School from the early ’30s and tickets, visors and passes from POP — Pacific Ocean Park.
“There are a few things that I’m still trying to collect,” he adds. “I’m trying to find any memorabilia having to do with Hoppyland,” he says. “The ultimate thing is the free pass ticket that Thrifty Drug Store gave away.”
Hoppyland was an amusement park at Washington Street (now Washington Boulevard) in the early ’50s, opened by Hopalong Cassidy (William S. Boyd).
“It would be wonderful if I could get that ticket,” he says.
Can anyone help Barry?