Ben has many extracurricular interests. He is a self-described amateur coin collector, with a sizeable collection of foreign circulation coins, domestic commemoratives, and precious metal coinage. Although he doesn’t have many, Ben adores circulation bimetallic coins, coins such as Canada’s $2 “toonie” and the 1- and 2-Euro coins. (Ben wishes the United States would issue a bimetallic $2 coin.)
Ben’s unabashed love of geography in general and travel in particular is also important to him, as evidenced by his participation in and success with the AAA Travel High School Challenge. Ben loves to travel anywhere, but especially across international borders. Indeed, Ben has held a long fascination with physical international boundaries and has visited such unique locales as Derby Line, VT/Stanstead, QC, where a thin line of masking tape across the floor of a library’s reading room demarcates the United States/Canada border. Ben has traveled to exotic Japan, Hawaii, bustling Los Angeles, New York City, Florida, all points along the Atlantic Seaboard, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Italy, Vatican City, France, Monaco, and Spain.
Another of Ben’s interests involves carousels. Most people conjure up images of brilliantly-colored and bejeweled stallions when they think of the carousel. But Ben’s primary interest is not the horses, nor the spinning around, nor the “Catch the Brass Ring” game which used to be such a prominent part of the carousel experience and which is now surviving on only a handful of operating carousels. Ben loves carousel music, and specifically the band organs which create this entrancing music. Ben’s favorite band organ is the A. Ruth & Sohn Model 38 installed since the first decade of the 20th Century at the Crescent Park Carousel in Riverside, RI. Ben loves all Ruth band organs, known for their distinctive “stringy” sound which was never replicated by the more common Wurlitzer band organs. Ben is actually archiving all known recordings of the Crescent Park Carousel Ruth band organ, and if you happen to have a cassette copy of any of the volumes of music issued by the Crescent Park Carousel in the 1980s and 1990s, please contact Ben for more information about the simple and pain-free archival process (donors will receive their cassette(s) back “unharmed” within a day).
These constitute but a sampling of Ben’s hobbies and interests.