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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ocala resident discusses her large Garfield the cat collection

To the Editor:

Since 1992, 30 years ago, I have been trying to get into the Guinness World Records. In 1992, I had 3,000 Garfield the cat items. At that time, no one was in Guinness for Garfield stuff. That same week, I found out that I was pregnant with twins and that took priority. I had a full-time job and the twins, so time passed.

In 2000, a couple in Los Angeles, California got into Guinness. I still kept on collecting. In 2003, it was on Garfield’s 25th Birthday Bash Cruise where I met the creator of Garfield, Jim Davis. He autographed my scrapbook of comic strips from 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981. He was very impressed with my collection. I have framed the very first newspaper comic strip from June 19, 1978.

In 2003, I was working at Regions Bank and the twins were only 11 years old. Not much time for Garfield. On September 17, 2003, I was at work and I was the only teller that day. At around 10 a.m., two guys walked in, dressed in layered clothes with Band-Aids on their faces. They jumped over the counter and one of them put a gun in my back. The other one stood in front of me. They were the Band-Aid Bandits. Our bank was the 29th one that was hit. They were even featured on the “most wanted fugitives” TV show.

Ever since that experience with the robbers, I retired early because life is too short, and I didn’t want someone else to make it shorter. Now I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 2004, I tried again to get into the Guinness World Records. By then, I had 6,000 Garfield items. I got in a local newspaper on May 31, 2004, in an attempt to get into Guinness. No luck. It was a nice story and had pictures.

Ten years passed, and someone else got into Guinness in April of 2014 with 6,190 Garfield items. It was a downer. In 2017, I reached out to a local newspaper with 10,000 Garfield items, and they took pictures.

In May of 2018, a local magazine took pictures of my house and all the Garfield items. They took very nice pictures. But still nothing. In January of 2020, I was driving my V.W. Garfield car when two women started following me. I parked at a gas station where there were lots of people, and the two women parked beside my car. All they wanted was to take pictures to send to their cousin who owns ‘I Wonder TV.’ On February 11, 2020, he came to my house and took video and pictures of my Garfield items. Now, I’m on YouTube as the World Garfield Collector. The video runs for 15 minutes. He told me that he has made videos for people who eventually got into Guinness. I’m still waiting.

In 2021, I started taking pictures of the 10,011 Garfield items I own, and something kept me from taking the pictures, like family visiting for vacation at my house. That went on for six months: one family member would leave, and another would show up. It was crazy. Then, for icing on the cake, when everybody left, I fell on my wrist and broke it in three places on November 30, 2021. I could not take pictures. It felt like something was trying to stop me from getting into Guinness. So, when my wrist got better, I did not stop taking pictures.

Now, in 2022, I’ve taken 10,011 pictures of my collection and have the images on my computer. It could be easier to count the Garfield items and try again to get in the Guinness World Records. It’s on my bucket list.

Maritza Cruz
Ocala resident

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