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Bryan collects bits of history

Collecting antiques and memorabilia may seem outdated, but English teacher Debra Bryan finds ways of bringing joy in the little things and especially those that remind her of “back when.”

Bryan, a Riverview alumna and graduate from USF and FSU with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, says she had a very interesting life.

“I had a very interesting and colorful life… I was an actor, singer, and I did some dancing.” She also lived in New York for 6 years and traveled around Mexico. She even met her husband on a cruise ship.

Although her travels were exciting, and the assumption can be made that her collecting started there, her love for collecting things began with her mother when she was young.

“I always had stuff, and one day my mother brought me a cabinet for my little animals that I had collected from doing, well, whatever it was,” she said. She added that her collection began to grow more and more, and she has been collecting ever since.

Bryan’s collection also sprouts from her love of history.

“I enjoy nonfiction, a lot of political books. I enjoy learning about the past and fact checking, all of that. I love it.” Her speech class includes looking over old Presidential campaign ads and checking them for techniques she teaches her students.

The effects in the classroom of her love for history do not stop there. Bryan says her interest in history gives her the chance to research and share with her students what she has learned.

“It makes me research and gives me a greater view of something,” she said.

Bryan says her own knowledge has expanded and is able to give more accuracy in the classroom.

Bryan has collected many different knickknacks and collectibles over the years, but there a few things she says stand out in her collection.

“I have a part of a cannon signed by Theodore Roosevelt.” She even has the signature of one of the most influential icons in entertainment. “I also have the signature of Judy Garland,” she says.

Bryan’s goals are simple: “I want to sell everything one day and make a fortune!” She says her life has been quite a ride, and her collectibles mean a lot to her, but her addiction must stop somewhere. “If it doesn’t stop, I will keep hoarding and collecting to the day I die,” she says. She hopes more and more people will begin to take a moment to recall the joys and experiences of the past.

“It can be very eye opening for some people, including me.”

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