Word on the Street

Personal essays from a young journalist in the Sunshine State.

Tag: Childhood

Collections: Reminders of Our Individuality, What We Hold Dear

Monday night I was reading FDluxe, a Dallas Morning News publication that features articles about fashion/style, homes, dining, etc. The May 2008 issue includes a full-page spread showing various treasures people collect. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s collections. I once knew a guy who had a whole basement full of baseball caps. He was in his 80s and had been collecting them since he was a teenager. My former next-door neighbor, Mrs. Irish, used to collect goose eggs, which she decorated and sold at craft fairs.

As a child, I collected:

  • Stamps — I still have an old, rust-colored stamp book full of them.
  • Buttons — You’d be surprised by how many cool buttons are out there.
  • Rocks — Yes, as an only child I needed to find something to entertain myself when playing outside.
  • Trolls — I had 365 of them and was featured in the local newspaper when the Holliston Public Library put my collection on display!
  • Precious Moments dolls — I loved their teardrop eyes.
  • Costume jewelery pins — I had two six-foot boards full of them, which are now gaining dust at my home in Massachusetts.
  • Anything to do with frogs — I still have a fetish for frogs, and for butterflies.

Now I really don’t collect much, except for books. (The Border’s next to my apartment tempts me all too often.)

Here are some of the slightly more sophisticated collections featured in the FDluxe piece:

  • Vintage pagodas
  • Two-faced vases
  • China
  • Taxidermy — deer heads, small minks and beavers.
  • 19th and 20th-century hand-painted photographs of women
  • Napkins
  • Hand-blown glass
  • Wine
  • Antique prints
  • Vinyl records

I can’t see myself collecting any of these “treasures,” especially not napkins. But that’s the beauty of collections — they speak to who we are as individuals, to what we hold dear and, sometimes, to what we’re afraid to lose.

What do you collect?

Telling Tales from Treetops

Me learning how to climb the tree in my front yard. My dad\'s standing by for support.

Me learning how to climb the tree in my front yard back in 1990. My dad’s standing by for support.

As a child, I used to climb the maple tree in my front yard and sit on the highest branch. With a notebook in hand and binoculars dangling around my neck, I wrote down what I heard and saw – ducks crossing the street, moms pushing strollers, sirens echoing in the distance. My neighbors, who called me Harriet the Spy, would fill me in whenever “breaking news” occurred:

“Mallary!” Mr. Graham would yell from across the street, “There have been a lot of cars speeding down the street lately. I wonder why that is.”

I made it my goal to find out why. I made observations, interviewed neighbors, and scribbled stories in my fluorescent-colored Lisa Frank notebooks. I still have these notebooks. They’re filled with license plate numbers, descriptions of passerby, and words like “suspicious.”

Not long ago, I read through one of these notebooks and felt compelled to buy a new copy of Harriet the Spy, just for fun. I have yet to read it, but I can imagine the experience will remind me of my childhood, and of my desire to look at life from treetops, where some of the best stories are told.