Why do we collect things?
And what is it that makes us veer toward one type of collection over another?
I am sure, for many, a collection is an investment; whether it’s a stamp or coin collection, a garage full of classic cars, maybe even a collection of precious gems.
When we were kids, there likely was a salamander collection (at least until mom found out about it) or maybe that coveted baseball card collection.
There wasn’t really much I had to have as a kid, no real collector’s items of any sort.
As I grew a bit older, I got into clowning for a time, my high school best friend and I doing puppetry and clowning as a way to earn some money. So there was definitely a collection of puppets, my first one being Russell, a raccoon. He even got packed in my bag when I headed off for a summer working with the Youth Conservation Corps in the Catskill Mountains. Everyone cracked up when I did my ‘Russell puppet voice’ and my co-workers made him the honorary mascot for the summer. We all had YCC patches we received as part of the job and Russell got one stitched on his back, just to signify he really was one of the bunch.
I lost count of how many puppets I collected; my friend stayed with it after college and has gone on to be a storyteller and puppeteer, still adding to her collection as it is now part of her livelihood.
It’s sad to say that I am not even sure where all my puppets ended up. Even sadder that there’s only a few I remember vividly – there was Jamie the giraffe, Rosie the cow, Russell of course, and my Muppet-Animal like large version puppet that was all orange and was named Julius.
I got more into collecting clown figurines in college and ended up with a wide variety of clown merchandise, not just the ceramic figures but all manner of clown items. That was probably something I would still have if they hadn’t terrified my daughter. Kind of hard to collect something that makes your child widen her eyes in horror and have bad dreams.
So, into the cardboard box they went, packed away carefully, wrapped in newspapers and stored in a closet for years. Eventually, they went to the thrift store, as there really wasn’t any way Ally was going to get over her apprehension about the collection and no way I would ever be able to display them again if I wanted to maintain a relationship with her.
There is one I still have, though, cleverly hidden behind some other items on a shelf adjacent to the desk in my office. That one might have to move on to the thrift store, too, if my daughter reads this column.
My other collection is one I use frequently, my collection of old-time radio shows. Some are on cassette tapes, the ones I bought years ago, while the more recent purchases are on CD. My tastes changed over the years, though, with the first part of my collection more in the comedy and horror arena and later on moving more to science fiction and police dramas.
I always enjoy putting on a show from 70 or 75 years ago and marvel at the fact that technology has allowed it to be preserved. My California ‘mom’ – my friend Gloria, who is also Ally’s godmother – one year for Christmas got me a huge collection, one that included a little bit of everything, something like 50 or 60 tapes of the ‘best of’ old-time radio.
She literally said it was the only time she ever heard me “squeal.”
I guess if the point of having a collection is to really enjoy it, squealing is a good indication you are collecting the right thing.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.