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Always a collector

April 7, 2016
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

I sat cross-legged on the bed. Colorful post cards in boxes and stacks surrounded me. I was in collector heaven.

Mom, who had been through dozens of my collection fevers, stopped in and looked the scene over. Before she left the room, she said, "Joyce, if you came across two bent nails, you'd start a collection."

She was probably right. I have to admit that there has always been something about gathering like items, arranging them, seeking the missing elements and displaying the whole collection that satisfies me.

I've been that way since childhood.

Early on, I collected shiny stones. Then it was marbles. I loved those glass balls with the swirls of color inside.

Eventually, I transferred my passion to playing cards, one from each deck. The infatuation lasted for many years. During that time, I joined a national card collecting organization and traded cards through the mail.

Then there was the postage stamp period followed by movie star pictures and autographs.

By this time, I was in my teens and found a new fascination in collecting and raising tropical fish. With tanks in almost every room, I became something of a fishy midwife.

But my checkered collecting career was interrupted when I met the love of my life, George. Suddenly, the collections, even the fish, lost much of their appeal.

However, I never expanded my husband collection. When you have the Hope diamond, why look at rhinestones?

Eventually, the collection bug bit George, too.

Our first joint collection involved a group of antique clocks we found in several shops in North East, Pa..

Early in the clock period, George thought it would be interesting to wind and set all of our clocks. That night, when the midnight hour struck, it struck and struck andwell, you get the idea. Needless to say, that was the one and only time we tried that plan. From then on, only one or two clocks were operating at any given time.

After the clocks, we moved on to pump organs.

George did some research and taught himself the basics of restoration on the lovely old music makers. At one point, we had a dozen pump organs in our little ranch-style house. Add in our three little kids and the place became a bit crowded. So, one by one, the organs were restored and moved on to new homes.

Bells were the last items to catch our attention. Over the years, we gathered quite a variety.

There was a brass bell with an Oriental look about it, a small ring of jingle bells to remind us of Christmas, a lovely crystal bell with a dainty "voice," and a number of others.

Over time, the bell collection has been lost to accidents, moves and other events until only one bell remains, the one that started it all so long ago.

The body of this special bell looks like a small blue flower with gold highlights. Carrying out the flower theme, the handle is a gold stem with four "leaves" attached.

The bell has a place of honor on my bookcase among memories that George and I gathered over the years.

And, as the last member of the bell collection, the little blue bell represents all those collections that went before it and gave so much enjoyment to the heart of a lifelong collector.



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