Gene Kleppinger, Eastern professor and Blackboard supervisor, holds up a trio of ties from his collection that totals a little more than 100. (Maggie LaFleur)

By Kaylia Cornett

It’s not surprising to hear about people collecting stamps, coins or even crazy-eyed little dolls from foreign countries, but long time Eastern professor Gene Kleppinger has a collection all his own. He likes ties.

Kleppinger, who helms over Blackboard as well as being a part-time philosophy professor, started wearing ties regularly back in 2000 when his office sat comfortably in the Keene Johnson building. He said he felt the need to be a little more formal.

“And, gradually, I found that there were occasions on which I wanted to wear particular ties,” Kleppinger said, “.a composer’s birthday, stuff like that, so I wear a musical tie on Beethoven’s birthday.”

Eventually, people just started giving him novelty ties.

“And, so I needed to find occasions on which to wear them, and gradually, I just learned how to find calendars on the web that had interesting occasions,” he said.

Kleppinger said he started researching occasions back in 2005; his list of reasons for wearing certain ties ranges from famous birthdays to historical events.

In April 2008, his sons convinced him to start a daily blog called “Tied Up Today,” where he catalogs which tie he is wearing each day and what the day’s special occasion is.

“So, it’s a daily hobby to find a tie appropriate for the occasion, or if there is no occasion, to select a tie that hasn’t been worn in a while.”

He said the blog only gets a few comments, but his family enjoys it.

“I think it’s a harmless obsession.”

He said to check out the blog at seeds-ties.blogspot.com.

“My boys came up with the nickname seeds for me, and I don’t know why,” he said, laughing.

Kleppinger estimated that he has a little over 100 novelty ties, plus other plaids and solids; he has nearly 15 Christmas ties.

But, despite such a large collection, he admits that he has a difficult time deciding on a favorite.

“I don’t have a single favorite, but my family members have favorites that I’ll wear on their birthdays,” Kleppinger said. “So, on their birthdays I let them choose what they want me to wear.”

But, he did hint that one particular tie held a special place in his closet.

“A very special favorite is a tie based on the photo of my tie rack, my wife (had it made) for Father’s Day.”

Although he has an arsenal of ties, Kleppinger said he will continue to collect them. He said there are some styles that interest him more than others – ties with faces of famous people, large animals, even punctuation marks.

“A tie with a question mark on it would be great.”

Lastly, he explained there is one defining element that certifies a tie for his collection.

“It can’t be run of the mill, it’s got to be novelty,” he said. “Just things that are out of the ordinary, and I find a good reason to wear them . on Einstein’s birthday, or the birthday of the guy who built the periodic table, or even talk like a pirate day.