Saturday, August 16, 2008

Accomplishment #5: Start a Collection (#2)

Okay, this one, for me, is sort of a joke. I've been accomplishing this since I was old enough to have quarters for the gumball machine, so I could buy ALL the miniaturized soda cans(including the coveted YooHoo, a drink that I had never seen), plastic "crystal" animals with less than perfect paint jobs, and anything else that came in those plastic containers with the pop off lids. Even the sounds of the transactions gave me a rush -- the insertion of the quarter, the creaking scronk of the handle, the tumbling of the prize down the chute. Then the flipping open of the little silver door, and there it was, the crapshoot -- would it be that miniature replica of a can of Yoohoo? Or would it be yet another Tab? (From the sounds of it, I should have become a compulsive gambler.)

I collect a lot of, well, crap. I mean, I, personally, think it's all cool, but some people might -- and do -- find it all to be a bit questionable. (And NO, I don't collect old TV guides, newspapers, or doodle-loom toilet paper cozies.) Many people have come over to my house and have said, weakly, "Wow. You have a lot of stuff." (Then there are those who come over and say the exact same sentence with the opposite inflection -- and they get invited back.) The real challenge and accomplishment for me would be to STOP collecting. But there's no fun in that, really.

So yeah, it all started with the gumball machines, and then it escalated into books. Nancy Drew books, to be exact. Robin Noble lent me The Mystery at Lilac Inn in third grade, and I was utterly enchanted. The next day, I begged my mom to buy me a Nancy Drew book for my very own, and The Clue in the Old Stagecoach (WHY that one, I don't know) went onto my shelf. I was so intrigued by Nancy Drew; she was the epitome of fabulous. She wore pretty cotton frocks, ate in smart tearooms, had chums George and Bess (and her oh so compliant football star boyfriend Ned)... and she solved lots of dangerous mysteries and didn't seem to suffer any consequences from repeated run-ins with Chloroform. She was fantastic, and I was addicted to Nancy Drew. When I found out there were other editions from the "olden days" with different stories and covers and illustrations (my babysitter gave me her mom's old ones), my life was set: "My name is Karen, and I am a junkaholic."

Thirty-two years after the Clue in the Old Stagecoach set me on my course for adventure.

As you can see by that picture, I collect a lot of books. And 1950's - 60's teenage junk. And Fiestaware, Bauer flowerpots, California pottery, salt and pepper shakers, ladyhead vases, bathroom fish, 1940's Pendleton jackets, vintage eyeglasses, 45s, ceramic panthers, planters, vintage cookbooks, starburst Oneida, pyrex, atomic barware, poodles, pins, travel scarves, lucite purses, vintage magazines and comics... You name it. If you can find it at an old lady's estate sale, I have to have it. And I'm one of those people that doesn't even care if it's not perfect, because I always think that if I'm getting it, it's going to a good, loving home. (Jon won't even buy a rare "Champagne" or "Tiger" men's magazine for a buck if it's not PERFECT, as witnessed today. Pffft.) And as much as I drool and admire them, those wonderfully perfect and spare mid-century houses -- I could never do it. I have way too much junk to achieve that perfect aesthetic.

Yep, I just might wind up like Grey Gardens. As soon as I start collecting live cats and raccoons.

I know that there's all this psychology hoo-ha surrounding collectors -- we were deprived (hardly), abandoned (nope), the whole anal retentive Freud thing (oral fixation, thankyouveddymuch), the hoarding need from early human archetype (read Clan of the Cave Bear a long time ago)... whatever. There might be some truth to some of it -- I probably wanted to be Nancy Drew, therefore I wanted to possess Nancy Drew. (Aha! I just saved myself a ton of money on therapy -- all the better to be spent on more old crap!) Or I think the world is the pits, and want to go back to a gentler, easier time. (Yeah. If it were the 1950's, I'd be an old-at-40 wanton slut the whole street gossiped about for living in sin with my divorced boyfriend. And as much as I love and wear the clothes, I HATE girdles and heels.) Or I just simply like vintage things -- they are so much more beautiful and fun and really, it's the best of both worlds. I can have 1950's chafing dishes, but fix the whole damn meal in the microwave. Wheee!

So I grappled with this accomplishment, because if anything, I couldn't really start yet another collection. I have too much already, and adding ON to an already started collection would be CHEATING.

But lo and behold, the problem was solved for me today with the best find EVER:

The best find of the day.

A collection of 1950's teen menstruation pamphlets!!!

I nearly died when I found them at a yard sale today and asked the lady "How much?" She laughed and said, "Aren't they funny? A dollar." Rather than fainting on the spot, I whipped out a dollar. (Well, more, because I bought a turquoise ringed bowl, corn S&P shakers, and a little girl's scrapbook from the 1950's. Score!) I've always been fascinated by them, and have a copy of the one I had in the 70's: a very groovy version of "Growing Up and Liking It." I even used it as reference in school for a memoir I wrote called "Growing Up and Hating It." (But it got referred to as a "Period Piece" for obvious reasons.) And it's not cheating, because I already had ONE teen menstruation pamphlet that is such a riot, so because I got 5 today makes it a bona-fide collection.

For some internals, go here:

And lest you think that all my collections sit around and collect dust... well, you're sort of right. But I had validation -- my first and beloved collection, the Nancy Drews, were used by Chronicle Books for their stationery sets:

My claim to fame

So my collection brought joy many times over to people other than me. That's what it's about right?

And now, if anyone wants to make 1950's teen menstruation pamphlet stationery, I'm all set to help out!

Five down, 92 to go.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

That is so cool that your collections got used by others. I am totally impressed.

Sparkleneely said...

It was a very cool thing. Otherwise they'd just be sitting there collecting dust.

But ever since Flickr, I feel like all my junk gets showcased and loved more. My cookie jar alone has a slew of fans. WHO KNEW???!!!

Anonymous said...

pul-ease post the interiors of those pamphlets, SO GOOD!

i am having a BLAST reading your blog.

Sparkleneely said...

Lishy dear -- thank you!!! I added the flickr link. They are such a riot!

And I love your blog, too!!! Yay for us -- we've come a long way since lj, baby!

Lynn Peril said...

Oh, thank god, I have most of those pamphlets (but not the pink one) already. GREAT score, you lucky duck!

Delinquent said...

I've read through all of your posts now. Sorry it took me so long. They're great, of course.

My excuse for not getting "junk" that's not perfect is that I'd have WAY too much stuff if I didn't have an excuse not to buy...

I'm waiting for the next entry. Love, JB

Dane said...

I am DROOLING over your Nancy Drew collection. Mine - huge, and my actual childhood collection - was improperly stored and got bugs, so I had to toss them. :(

And Chronicle came to you ... so COOL!