Hot-button issues are the order of the day for Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau president Virginia Haley, and after hours, too—judging from her ever-growing collection of some 1,000 political and pop culture-oriented buttons.
On display throughout her office is everything from “A Democrat shot JR” button to pins promoting Harry Potter book releases. Haley has one Dewey pin, but the majority of her collection picks up with “Kennedy for President in 1968.” Her most precious political button is a circa-1964 miniature gold elephant wearing black Barry Goldwater glasses, given to her by a Mote volunteer. Her favorite nonpolitical button: a plastic guitar embossed with John Lennon’s face, which she found in a
Haley’s father, Hardy Nathan, a life insurance agent and Republican Party activist in western
Haley herself started working on the Hill right out of college in 1973 as an aide to Richard Schweiker, the Republican senator from
As to the collection’s monetary value, “apparently there is a value and every now and then I go on eBay and take a look,” she says. “But I don’t know how any of that works; I keep them because they’re fun.”
Most have come across her desk or have been given to her. “Rarely will I buy one, but I broke my rule this summer and bought some buttons at the national convention [of convention and visitors bureaus] in