My husband and I bought a new house today. A two story Colonial with three bedrooms, two fireplaces and a very sharp rec room complete with a shuffleboard outline on the floor and a set of previously owned golf clubs in the corner. Best of all, we paid a grand total of $24.99 for it, marked down from $75 at a local thrift store, and we’ll never have to pay property taxes. Yep, it’s a metal house made sometime in the late 1950’s and a dead ringer for a house Beaver Cleaver’s family might have lived in.
This is our fifth metal doll house and as I searched for a place to put our latest acquisition–living room? family room? on the back of the toilet tank?–it occurred to me that we’ve crossed the line from collectors to possible obsession driven lunatics.
It started innocently enough with a white dollhouse with green shutters that reminded me of my grandmother’s home and many happy memories of visiting her and drinking Coke out of glass bottles and eating Jay’s potato chips while watching her color T.V. For a long time that first dollhouse was enough–until the day we stumbled across a 1960’s ranch style home–very rare in the world of metal houses–that I simply had to have.
Next was a Spanish hacienda on sale for the ridiculous price of $3 (due, I’m sure, to a faint patina of rust and a general gone-to-seed appearance but for that price we could overlook a little wear and tear). The hacienda was followed by another traditional home (made special because it came with furniture) and finally the super deluxe dream home bargain we found today.
It’s clear that this collecting is getting out of hand, as it so often does with us. For a while we were into collecting Corning coffee pots, those ceramic coffee pots made out of space age Pyroceram, a ceramic material able to tolerate incredibly high temperatures such as the kind an astronaut might encounter on his way to the moon. Corning eventually recalled those coffee pots–something about the handle occasionally becoming separated from the pot–but that didn’t stop us from snapping up every single Corning coffee pot we came across which turned out to be quite a few. If anyone ever wants to open up a Corning Coffee Shop, please give me a call because I can definitely get you started.
Back to our latest obsession. Even without a recall on metal dollhouses I’d like to say that our collection is complete but I’m not quite willing to commit myself to such a bold statement. Suppose we come across another rare ranch or perhaps a metal Tara? What if we find an apartment building or a school or a church? We’re going to have to buy it and worry about where to put it later because, as any obsession driven lunatic knows, better to buy something you want before someone else snaps it up than not buy it and have to spend the next few months lying awake every night wondering who got your dollhouse.
That’s the problem with collecting anything. It’s fun at first as well as relatively harmless but slowly the fun is replaced with a compulsion to possess all of the coffee pots and metal dollhouses in the world and, as everyone knows, compulsions can make you itch more than a mohair sweater.
My husband has talked vaguely of building a subdivision in our basement, a metal dollhouse version of one of those Christmas villages, but I’m not holding my breath as I’m still waiting for him to replace the dishwasher, paint the bathroom and throw out all of his 1980’s Zumba pants. I suspect what is more likely to happen is that we will keep on buying metal dollhouses until one fine day our house resembles something that looks like a couple of crazy people who like to drink a lot of coffee and play with dolls live in it.
I have moments when I’m not exactly sad but perhaps slightly guilt ridden over the fact that we will not be leaving our sons much in the way of heirlooms. We were never into fine china (unless Fiestaware falls into that category), nor did we collect original artwork or mutual funds. Instead we’ve collected stuff that’s given us joy.
I suspect that joy is not going to be a generational thing when they have to hire a moving truck to haul all our coffee pots and metal dollhouses to the nearest thrift store but I’m hoping they will at least be gentle with us in their memories and remember that both their father and their mother always sat way too close to the television set and both liked to sniff freshly pressed mimeographs.