What is it that makes a person a collector? A recessive gene? A childhood lack or longing? An obsessive personality? After pondering this question, I’ve decided it’s probably all of those plus other reasons I’ll never understand.
My grandmother was a collector. Oh my goodness. The precious lady never threw away so much as a scrap of fabric, a piece of paper or a bread wrapper I’m sure her frugality and saving nature was a product of her time. From her I inherited the ability to stretch a meal that would feed four to making-do for twelve in the blink of an eye and without a trip to the grocery store. I have learned to force myself to throw away cards and papers and magazines–however I keep binders filled with the articles and pictures I will use. Eventually. Someday.
My mother’s nothing like my grandmother. She saves cards, books, mementos and letters, but has never had a problem getting rid of old toys, dishes or clothing. However I have a couple of aunts who are collectors.
I ‘ve learned to weed through clothing and books and the kids’ old school papers and I have only one remaining box of cards and letters–okay, maybe two. When we moved from the house where we raised our kids, I made them go through the boxes of school papers and drawings and look at them all before we pitched them, and I gave them all their report cards, etc.
Two years ago I did an office makeover, with all new furniture, cabinets and desks. It was a huge job and I spent days going through filing cabinets, throwing away papers I’d moved twice and didn’t need. I even reduced bookcases from FIFTEEN to nine–and gave away all of the books that were on them!
Now, if collecting is a gene, does that mean my children and grandchildren have it? If it’s a compulsion, that does mean they’ll have seen enough in me and go another direction? My oldest two daughters are minimalists, and the fact is an amazement to me. When they’re finished with something, out it goes–furniture, wall décor, kitchen things–you name it. Their homes are beautifully decorated and welcoming, with no excess clutter or displays of unnecessary items. At one time my youngest daughter was the most like me. Her bedroom at home was full, and anything the other girls or I were getting rid of, she wanted to keep it. And she did. But after having her own child and making several moves, it was easy for her to start pitching.
My daughter-in-law is an extreme minimalist. She likes things plain. She says it calms her. The year we moved here, I was in the middle of deadlines, planning a trip for RWA, and didn’t have time to do all the painting I wanted or hang things or unpack everything. I was getting depressed because I didn’t have my “stuff” around me. When I mentioned that to my daughter-in-law, she glanced around and said, “I like it. It’s peaceful.”
Just watching HGTV and seeing new paint colors being rolled onto walls gives me a thrill and the urge to redecorate. Now mind you, I love new paint and I adore and must have color, but I don’t actually do all the “work” myself, oh no. My darling husband is the best painter in the world. He has been known to balk at faux techniques or anything fancy, so I have to help out there, but I’m basically the packer, advisor and gopher.
I’m not alone in my love for “stuff”. I have a couple of friends who join me. Sometimes we travel to antique weekend in Walnut, Iowa. Oh my goodness. Vendors and sellers from all over the Midwest come together for this yearly occasion. The streets of the town are lined with campers and canopies and tents–business area, as well as the shady tree-lined neighborhoods. The homeowners either set out their own wares or they sell food or drinks. Kids pull wagons selling water and pop. The legion hall and the school are filled with booths and tables. We walked and browsed from early morning to late afternoon and didn’t see it all. It was interesting to see what other people were buying. One man bought a “four holer”. It was a long old board with four holes that had once been the seat in an outhouse! That was the topic of conversation everywhere he dragged that thing. Why he wanted it or what he planned to do with is I have no idea. I guess I do draw the line somewhere.
My friend Chris collects anything Snoopy, as well as wood handled cookie cutters, kitchen things, and red, white and blue, as well as German dollhouses and furniture. My other friend, Carol, picked up doilies and fell in love with a pitcher and bowl set–she likes Victorian things. I found a cup and saucer with red roses, a teapot made in Japan, a doily edged with pansies and a red and white potholder to add to my collection. Also bought a floral teapot and a cup with no saucer. I have extra saucers–you can pick up the pieces really cheap and then mix and match. Now, obviously I didn’t need any of those things.
Part of the thrill of shopping flea markets and antique stores is “the hunt”. Only die hards, like the breed we see in throngs in Walnut, will drive out of town, park in a field with parking attendants on horseback, and fight crowds in the blazing sun to look at every last thing to make sure they didn’t miss something wonderful. And that’s the thing–once I’m there, I have to see it all. Every last thing–every nook and cranny–every piece of glassware and each pie safe and all the old dolls and stoneware and–okay, I do skip over the vintage tools. Hey! There is something I don’t collect! If I left without seeing it all, there would be a nagging question in my mind that I’d missed the one thing I couldn’t live without.
Among the things I collect are Beanie Baby monkeys, dogs and cats, Angel Cheeks, vintage chenille bedspreads, quilts, aprons and red & white crocheted potholders, white Pfaltzgraff dinnerware, Blue Willow dinnerware, vintage spice tins, white cream pitchers, pitchers, teapots, teacups and saucers, small plates with rose patterns, books, cookbooks, recipes, dolls, Josef figurines, Royal Copley planters, Royal Copley roosters, old photographs, Depression glass, deviled egg trays, vintage framed art of little girls, framed art of roses, hurricane lamps, vintage cologne bottles, old medicine tins, antique canning jars, vintage jewelry, not-so vintage jewelry, sterling silver charms, Christmas elves, Santas, Shiny Brite ornaments, Dickens Village houses, old board game markers, advertising tins with vintage girls, hat boxes, vintage doilies, painted metal serving trays, 40s and 50s tablecloths, glass bowls and old cookie cutters.
Some of you just don’t get it, I know. You’re in the category with my daughters. I admire you. I do. But I know there are some of you nodding your heads and thinking, yep, that’s it, right on the nose. That’s me.
What is it your passion to collect? What do you find irresistable?
And if there’s someone reading this who has decided they don’t want all their good stuff anymore–call me. I’ll be right over!