The Curiosity House

From the outside it looked like any other house on the block. A tall old two-story brick with stairs leading to two front doors as it had once been a two-family flat. A tall leafy tree shaded the sidewalk front yard which was
covered in low lying vine. At the top of the stairs was a ratty old brown leather recliner and the stairs old
and in need of repair. As like the other houses on the block, it was built around the early 1920’s. The lady of the house, let’s just call her “the collector,” was a most curious woman herself. She had a walk about her that made one tend to believe she grew up riding horses often. She drank, and not just a little but far too often
so most of the time she extremely enebriated when one would come upon her in passing by. Nevertheless, she was
a very friendly and happy-go-lucky soul. She derived great pleasure in her drinking, which as I said, kept her
always in a jovial state. But her greatest pleasure was that of treasure hunting. Everyday she left her house to scour the alleys and any place people used to dump their unused items and trash. Sorting through the debri she
would on a daily basis retrieve what she found to be useful and still good and return home with it, adding these
newly discovered items to a collection she had begun many many years ago.
In those days, I lived only a few houses down from her and one day was fortunate enough to be invited into to her home. As I made my way up the stairs I noticed the terrible disrepair the doors were in, giving me the feeling that I was about to step into a haunted house, they looked so decrepid creepy old. When she flung the door opened
the living room was dark but there was enough day light to see a very large living room with an extended long area by the front windows that faced the street and front yard. It almost appeared to be a separate area of its own. A huge tall cage sat in one corner and across from it a long aquarium. The tall cage contained finches. At
the opposite end of the living room going toward the middle of the house was a dinning room with two china cabinets and dinning room table. The living room had a sofa and a chair and so many other things one could not
grasp what everything was without going up and looking at each area. On the coffee table sat a multitude of things, on a chair, again, a multitude of things. Against a wall there was a stereo with large speakers stacked on top were more speakers. Next to this was a glass curio cabinet. And in the dinning room it continued the same,
the table stacked with items, a desk with a computer and clothing and more things on a chair. She walked me past
the dinning room through a narrow hall that had tall built in bookshelves filled with books to her room which had clothes and blankets piled everywhere. hooks ran along the length of the back of her bedroom door and held a rainbow of different colors and prints of bras.
But the most interesting tour she took me on was that up the narrow stairs that winded their way up to the second floor! When we finally reached the upstairs there were two big rooms, same and equal to the size of her living room and dinning room filled almost to the ceiling like a warehouse. Boxes on top of boxes, furniture. I easily recognized a large stuffed horse from it’s legs sticking up in the air as it sat atop a pyramid of boxes. Paintings and pictures were all placed together on the floor leaning against a wall and placed in a manner that
allowed one to flip through them one by one. Shelves held contents of smaller items. In one of the two bedrooms off near the rear of the house was a room whose contents were all Christmas things, all neatly stacked and categorized neatly by type. ornaments with ornaments, artificial Christmas trees were placed together, boxes of Xmass decorations stacked one on top of the other together. In the second bedroom, there was a shelf with a bookcase containing irons of all types and makes from various time periods, same with phones and the list of things was endless….
Then out to the backyard, old bicycles from the 30’s and 40’s, she even had a bicycle built for two a beautiful old antique chandelier whose crystals she said she kept in the house. The basement was a different story. Things were just thrown haphazardly and walking through it was quite treacherous if not downright dangerous so I
requested we go back upstairs saying I was fearful of bugs.
It was from that day that I became friends with her and often I would open the front door of my apt and discover some unique and curious object she would leave me as a gift. She gave me the horse when I asked about where she had found it, it was in rather good shape and despite it looking clean I cleaned it again anyway and my grandchildren treasured it till they grew too big to sit on it any longer! One Christmas she left a tall Grandfather Frost at my door, it came as such a very big surprise as we had been dressing up as Grandfather Frost for the grandchildren, and she didn’t even know who grandfather frost was, which I found rather remarkable for her to choose to give me of all the things she had. Another time she brought over a bag filled with pierrot dolls of all colors shapes and sizes, were just beautiful! My granddaughter treasures them to this day! A large box of ornaments that are made to “look like” those made of the old fashioned dough art, another treasure enjoyed by my grandchildren each year! But the collectors favorite things were her box of jewelry. She loved for me to sit on the sofa with her and she would pull out this box and dump all the contents of it on the sofa and we would look at each piece. Most of it was junk, but she had a few nice pieces. One she gave me was a very very old necklace with rectangular links, which have since become very special to my granddaughter and now sits in a ceramic horse that locks. Every now and then she asks for me to pull it out to show it to her.
When I moved away I missed my friend. It was always so very interesting to go visit her and see what new things she had discovered. Once she found something that I knew had to have gone back to the slave days. It looked very African in nature and was so very old! It had a cone shaped top made of something like bamboo and figures hanging suspended from string going around it, each character was holding different objects.
I had so wanted to see her and after two years I just went to visit her last weekend to learn she is going to get rid of her house and all her prized possessions. Oh, she is not going to get rid of them by selling them, she is leaving them and the house together, as one!
I hope she doesn’t leave, but if she does, I know she will start a new curiosity shoppe somewhere else, because she is one of these unique people in the world who love to not only collect things, but collect the curious, unique and interesting- -Lord Bless Them All! For they can bring such joy!



This is a “rare” doll dressed in folk dress of a Macedonian Princess.  I found it in a thrift store