Onset Treasure Hunter Unearths Dog Tag of Late ‘Thermometer Man’
Richard Porter of Onset made it his life’s work to acquire the largest collection of thermometers in the world, earning him the nickname “Thermometer Man.” He passed in 2018, but Porter’s family received one more gift from him on Sunday after a treasure hunter found Porter’s Air Force dog tag buried in the sand.
Porter and his grandson, Danny Minkle, were thick as thieves. Minkle lost his mother when he was only 15 and was raised by his loving maternal grandparents.
“He was a teacher his entire life,” Minkle said. “He taught until the day he died and was always sharing his knowledge.”
Porter was a teacher, curator, collector, and war veteran. He was also a record holder, appearing in Ripley’s (Believe it or Not) five times, as well as the Guinness World Records. Before his daughter – and Minkle's mother – succumbed to a brain tumor in 1990, she begged her father to do something with his collection. He kept his promise and created the Porter Thermometer Museum in her honor, bringing joy and amusement to the Onset community and beyond.
“I learned so much from the man,” recalled Minkle, who said his grandfather documented everything.
After Minkle graduated from Johnson & Wales University, he gifted his thermometer to his grandfather, who documented it as his 1,000th thermometer.
“He even documented how many times he brought me to and from Providence for school – 87 round trips, and never complained once," Minkle said.
Much of his grandfather’s collection now resides at Penn State, but he and his family were able to pick some pieces before they were sold. Minkle cherishes the bond that he formed with his grandfather over the years, calling him the most selfless person he ever knew.
For a man who seemingly documented everything, it’s interesting to learn that Minkle and his family never knew about Porter’s missing dog tag.
“I don’t remember him saying he lost them. No other family member remembers him mentioning them,” Minkle said.
Thanks to a treasure hunter scanning the beaches for trinkets, the dog tag surfaced, baring the name "Richard T. Porter." The treasure hunter recognized the name, as most Onset residents would, contacted the grandson, and managed to reunite the dog tag with Minkle, who now keeps it in his car so he can ride alongside the Thermometer Man every day.
“If that’s not a sign that he’s saying hello, I don’t know what is,” Minkle said.