Skip to main content

The City Journals

What do you collect?

Jun 01, 2017 09:55AM ● By Alisha Soeken

The perfume bottle collection of Grace DeVries. (Alisha Soeken)

By Alisha Soeken | [email protected]
The Smithsonian houses a collection of 137 million objects from America’s history and the State Hermitage Museum in Russia holds world art ranging from the Stone Age to the early 10th century. But the question asked in a Murray book club one evening was smaller in scope: what do you collect?
Grace DeVries, a retired schoolteacher and resident of Murray for 51 years, has been a member of the Murray book club for a year and a half.
“I love the book club because I love the people in it. The group is not too large and the books they pick are always interesting. Marilyn is in charge. She knows her books and has lots of experience,” DeVries said.
Murray’s adult book club meets once a month at the library to discuss a jointly read novel. They sit around a large table in a small room as Marilyn Hurlow leads their discussion.
As the group discussed Gretchen Rubin’s novel, “The Happiness Project”, the topic of collections was its focus.
“I was given a perfume bottle by my grandmother with I was young. She bought it in the Netherlands. It is very unique. When I got married and moved to Murray I started going to garage sales and estate sales looking for perfume bottles. I set a price limit of five dollars. That worked for some years, but no longer. I eventually had to buy a cabinet to put them all in. I now have about 75,” DeVries said.
Brenda Bokovoy is a newer member of the book club but also has a collection.
“I collect lighthouses. I have lighthouse figurines and other various lighthouse items: dish towels, framed pictures, calendars, a baby carrier and a wind chime. But I’m also building a collection of books. Years ago I listened to a book on CD called ‘50 Psychology Classics’. Ever since I’ve been trying to acquire all 50 of them. I think I have around 30 so far,” Bokovoy said.
And member Marci Woodward collects items that help her remember.
“My collection started organically. During my high school years, I kept a ticket stub when I attended a live, on-stage theatre performance that I really enjoyed. With time, as I attended more and more theatre performances, I started keeping more and more of my ticket stubs and began keeping the programs too. I attend between six and 15 live on-stage theatre performances per year. I have a large binder but the collection is big enough that it has overgrown its binder and I need to get a second one,” Woodward said.
Whether books, bottles, lighthouses or ticket stubs, the group agreed their collections continued because of the joy it brings them.
“I am surprised that my daughter enjoys the perfume bottles and would like to have them someday. I myself enjoy looking at them for their variety, beauty and uniqueness,” DeVries said.
“Lighthouses remind me of being on the coast. There is something about the ocean, its simplicity and constancy is soul healing and also calming and rejuvenating. When I look at my lighthouses, I am reminded of how I feel when I go to the beach,” Bokovoy said.
“I love periodically looking back through my binder,” Woodward said. “When I do, I get to remember shows I attended and I usually remember who went with me. I have a page for a theatre performance that was a turning point in my dating relationship with my husband. I also have a page for a show I saw in New York on Broadway with my parents. The collection is full of a whole host of other pages that contain more fond memories.”
The Smithsonian and State Hermitage Museum have collections worth millions. And though the collections of the Murray book club members are humble in comparison, to their owners they are just as valuable.