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  Written by
  Sharla A. Stewart

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Collective efforts
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The collecting mania




Collective efforts
Sprouting souvenirs

Souvenirs, like pollen, hitch rides with unsuspecting vacationers. Having brushed against a shelf of commemorative plastic schlock, many travelers return home to find a schlock patch blossoming on a previously empty shelf.

William Zaleski's collection of several hundred keys-hanging hardware-store style on carousel racks and tucked into a Chinese herb cabinet-began innocently enough when he, like so many American fathers, took his family on a Bicentennial pilgrimage to Williamsburg, Virginia. There he purchased a large pewter key. "Later I found used, old keys more interesting and also cheaper and more available at antique malls and garage sales," says Zaleski, AM'68 (whose guest bedroom, a.k.a., "The Lincoln Room," holds a hundred or so likenesses of the log-cabin president). "My oldest keys are from the first, second, and fifth centuries-at least that's what the Portobello Market vendor in London indicated."

PHOTO:  Robin Simon picks up snow globes (a.k.a. water globes, water balls, snow domes - the debates rage among enthusiasts) when she travels and has been know to attend the annual Snow Fair in Washington D.C.

The 306 snow globes in the bedroom of Robin Simon, MBA'89, popped up like so many mushrooms after a good long rain. She began collecting the self-contained flurries at age 6 while touring the Statue of Liberty with her grandmother. That first globe, which met its fate as a "million pieces" on the sidewalk en route to show-and-tell, was replaced during a fourth-grade school trip to Washington, D.C. A charter subscriber to the quarterly newsletter Snow Biz (which, Simon is dismayed to report, published its last issue this summer), she now has domes from 20 countries and every state but West Virginia and Arkansas. She sleeps in water-globe pajamas, and her car bumper freely admits that "snow dome collectors are a little flaky."

In 1989 Caryl Towsley Moy, AM'69, picked up the most evolved of souvenir spore: the fond memory. On crutches with a broken foot during a visit to the U.K., Moy made her way through The Olde Curiosity Shoppe in London on a path cleared by a gracious shoppe-keep. Her purchases that day were unremarkable-an antique sugar shaker, a toast holder-but the shoppe became lodged in her unconscious. Twelve years later it's rooted itself in her recreation room, in the form of a porcelain miniature by the same name, the seed of what she calls "my Village Museum"-250 small lighted houses, shops, castles, banks, churches, and palaces, with miniature people, animals, vehicles, and flowers. At the "mother" of porcelain miniature conventions, held by manufacturer Department 56, she has received awards for her dioramae "Fall Flower Festival," "Tourist Time in Old Guilin," and "Genevieve Remembers: A Pioneer Childhood in Idaho" (the last based on her mother's youth).

While her husband celebrates her hobby, she says her sons just shake their heads in disbelief. "The most common comment I hear," Moy notes, "is: 'I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it.'"

  OCTOBER 2001

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