Why I Collect Stuff: the honest truth


This post started out as more of a question to myself as to whether or not I should start collecting vintage toy trucks...yes!!!!! can't believe it myself but it is true. So I had a moment of soul searching and thought, why do I keep collecting things?

When I started blogging a mere two months ago, I put in my profile that I enjoyed collections, with my collections being "a tangible record of where I have been and who I am now". I since removed those words as they seemed like an added distraction to my profile but in retrospect nothing could be closer to the truth.

I became a serious seeker of "interesting stuff" around 1990. My oldest son had been diagnosed with a terminal form of Lymphoma and I quit my job to spend what small amount of time he had left to be with him. In a mere year my life was a daily dose of anxiety and hospitals. My beautiful son lost his battle with cancer on July 3rd 1991 and it feels like yesterday.

After his death my days were very empty; really quite suddenly. I found myself without much to do and needed some sort of creative outlet. My prior employment with a major retailer as a buyer and clothing designer left me with a wonderful sense of color, a love of fabric and I suppose the need to "buy" if you will.

I took my then 5 year old, youngest son (now 23) with me on about a two year continual trip to the Goodwill, Salvation Army and just about every antique mall and flea market within a 60 mile radius of our home. With our income now cut in half, I had to be a cleaver negotiator. Suffice it to say; this is why I am a collector. Collecting saved me in a sense, it cut short my loss a small bit and I found some weird sort of solice in the daily hunt, hoping to nab a deal that I knew was a windfall.

Collections regrets? not really. A few coulda, woulda, shoulda's maybe. But no regrets. I have since parted with almost every item I collected during those rough years and have started new collections as my taste has changed and my income has grown. I do have a very fond memory, however of a beautiful yellow pond yacht that was $275 and I just couldn't swing it...damn!
ROSEVILLE POTTERY lousy picture but I still collect it and love the colors and textures
INDUSTIAL SEATING AND STORAGE I have at least a dozen of these lab/drafting chairs made by Toledo and use them for everything
ICE CREAM BUCKETS Lamps, storage, garden, general cuteness and always great color
FIRKINS I have collected these for about 15 years, great color and interest in the sizes and shapes
JADEITE & YELLOW WARE I don't collect either any more but found gobs of these in the early 90's for really low prices. I sold my last really great yellow ware bowl on ebay about a month ago
DEPRESSION GLASS I guess you could say this is where it all started, I picked up cups and saucers, reamers and s&p shakers for pennys. We actually used the stuff at parties and dinners, alot got broken but I loved the hunt!
VINTAGE TOY TRUCKS yet to be determined?

This yellow truck is listed on Ebay for $2800....why? Should I start collecting toy trucks....maybe not.
I hope you liked this post, I enjoyed writing it.

best~*~ kelley
  1. Wow! What awesome collections. Enjoyed reading how it all started but saddened by the loss of your beloved son. I lost my husband in '89(I realize not the same as losing a child) when my kids were babies. It lead me on a new path also. Keep on collecting. I see your love and passion. Thank you for sharing...enjoyed my visit to your site and hope to return often!

  2. I am so glad you read this post

  3. Kelley-
    My sincere condolences on the loss of your dear son.
    Having a passion for anitques and collecting myself I can so understand how they could save you. I also understand how those collections change over time.
    I love your collections. You obviously have a really good eye, and I love how you've displayed everything.
    I really enjoyed this post...

  4. Kelley,
    I was reading your latest blog entry today & noticed your fave items on the left bar. When I saw "firkins" i wondered, " what in the world is a "firkin?!"...then i saw it under your articles on the right side...this led me to read about "firkins" (i figured being a decorator too, that i should know WHAT they are)..so, now i know!
    However, my curiousity took me down that path to discover about your sorrow, your collective process & the story of your oldest son. And I discovered you have children the same ages (mine range 23-10)
    You've been such a great "blogger friend" and so I just wanted to tell you that truly, my heart goes out to you and your family.
    Your blog posts & decorating are always SO wonderful & inspirational to others, ... and I'm sure these are gifts given to you, as part of the healing process.
    May the good Lord bless you
    & continue to use your creativity to inspire us all in 2010.


  5. I was exploring your blog today and came across this entry. Am so sad to hear about your precious son. I cannot even imagine how hard that was and must still be. As an avid collector myself, I can see how the hunt somehow healed you and got you through a difficult time.
    In many ways, blogging has healed me of a difficult time. Last year, we almost lost our 25 year old son to drug addiction. He is in recovery now, and he is the one who encouraged me to blog. It was and still is his gift to me. I am grateful for that and almost feel as though God through Aaron gave me this as a way to heal.
    So let's keep collecting and blogging my blogging friend!

  6. Thank you all for the lovely and thoughtful comments....I miss Patrick every day and he is my inspiration on so many levels.

    thank you~k

  7. I am a regular but recent follower. I had no idea about your son and I am so sorry. I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been. I HATE cancer. We lost my father-in-law to Lymphoma in '06 and my mom to colon cancer a year later (I know it's not the same as a son). Thanks for sharing how you got through it. I've always loved your blog, but I have a newfound respect and admiration for your personal strength and resilience.

  8. Kelley, I regret not reading this when you had first posted it. I'm so so so sorry to hear about your terrible loss. So sorry. Nothing I could even begin to write would sound nearly as truly sorry I am, and how empathetic I am. My younger brother Jonath passed away after losing a battle with childhood cancer, so I understand on a level (probably more like your younger son). I'm now even more drawn to you ... you have such beautiful strength. You're an inspiration - for sure, and forever.

  9. The second time your posts have brought tears to my eyes today Kelley. I'm SO SO sorry about your sweet son and your painful experience. I can't begin to imagine. I lost my father to multiple myeloma a year and a half ago AND I work at one of the nation's largest cancer centers so I'm familiar with cancer as well and how horrible it can be.

    Thank you for the courage to share your story with us as a reminder to prioritize our time and commitments.

    Big hugs~


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