How does a person get involved in collecting stuff? For sentimental reasons? Does something “out there” just catch your eye? Can one go overboard and become a hoarder? I, for one, believe it can be any of the above.
I know my mother, as a farmer’s wife, went to auctions and bought “needed” things. She would have considered collections to be frivolous. When I was a teenager, Mom raised peafowl and each year when the peacock lost it’s feathers, Mom collected them. She was quite proud of those gorgeous feathers. When she kept guests for the Kutztown Folk Festival each guest and the children were given a feather to take home.
I’d have to say, as a teen, I was a collector of sorts. I know Mom would never have subscribed to Hollywood type magazines, so they must have been given to us. I made use of them by cutting out all movie stars and taping them on the four walls of my bedroom.
My other collection was letters. Maybe unusual, but it came from a passion for writing. I needed an outlet. I think it was in the Grit magazine that I came upon a pen pal page. I had at least ten pen pals at one time until Mom said I had to choose one, due to the cost of postage.
Once my brother, David, joined the service, I not only wrote to him but all his buddies that were in the service too. I saved those letters for years until I was married.
I had five older sisters and only knew two that collected. Gladys (deceased) started a pig collection when she lived on a farmette with her pastor husband. They raised pigs.
I still don’t know what kind of collector I’d call my sister, Mary Alice (deceased). I suppose she was somewhat of a hoarder, but her house was always meticulous---nothing strewn about or pathways. She loved yard sales---mainly clothes. She had several wardrobes in her basement filled with both summer and winter clothes, from dressy dresses to all sorts of jackets and coats. Her closets and spare bedrooms furniture were filled with sweaters, slacks etc. In her storage room, whenever there was a sale on detergents, shampoo etc., she didn’t only have one back up, but it could be three more. Her most intriguing collection was puzzles---mostly yard sales. Possibly, this collection started because, at home on the farm, Mom always had a puzzle going on a table. Mary Alice had stacks of all kinds of puzzles. She added a great twist to her collection. Once a month, family and friends were invited to a puzzle party. I love yard sales myself. I just wish they would have been around when I was raising my children. Not to worry. I now make up for the days I missed out on yard sales.
I’ve always loved vintage clothes. That could be how I started a collection of hats, purses, gloves etc. I even had a mannequin dressed in vintage clothes. My young grandchildren were never attracted to her when they slept over. But they did enjoy my hat collection found in an old wash basket. Purses could be found on the old ironing board in the guest room too. My grandkids and I, sometimes, in our hats and purses, took a fashionable walk to a nearby mini-mart for our ice cream cones. Even at our Christmas family gathering, the children, drug downstairs the basketful of hats. Everyone was blessed to wear their “Sunday-go-to-meeting” hat.
I also loved to read any stories about angels. Thus, my study/meditation room became filled with angels, both on the walls and on the shelves.
Alas, some things have to end. When we both retired, we moved back to Allentown so I would be close to my children. This is then we decided we’d get rid of “stuff.” We had three yard sales in all. As I get older, I get tired of lifting “stuff” to dust. I sold my vintage collections.
I kept some angels for my study wall and one shelf. And as women love to change things. I gave up my black girl collection and now collect tea pots for the hutch cabinet.
I can’t neglect that my husband also collects. In our new home he has his own study and I relented and left him decorate the TV room any way he wished. In his study is a collection of men’s vintage hats, from uncles and his father. He has always been involved in playing his tuba in community bands. He now collects and hangs photos of bands he’s been in with his father and brother, plus old community band photos he finds. In the TV room is his collection of beer mugs---from the towns where his father, brother, and himself played in community band parades.
Since I’m both a reader and a writer, I also accumulated lots of books over the years. Nowadays, I prefer giving some to friends, my children, or grandchildren, if I feel they have an interest. Others I like to take to the used books stores I’ve found and bring more books home.
I can’t say I was attached to some of the stuff I gave up when moving to another home. I’ve enjoyed the collections while I had them and now it’s someone else’s turn to enjoy them.
That’s what life is all about. Sharing your joy with others.
Carole Christman Koch grew up in Kutztown and has been published in numerous publications. She has a passion for writing and has many stories from growing up on a farm to raising children to humorous stories about her and her husband to everyday stories to season storeis and more.