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Memory is a funny thing


Bulletin reporter Mike Cook has a small, intriguing story in the Business section this week about some collectible Hummel figurines for sale at the Emporium store downtown.

The photo of some of the porcelain child figurines sent my brain zooming back to 10-year-old me at my grandmother Boonie’s house in Fort Worth, where she had a curio cabinet with a handful of Hummels. As a little kid, their little faces creeped me out.

Until Mike’s story, though, I didn’t know the backstory.

They are based on the drawings of a German Franciscan sister, Maria Innocentia Hummel, who lived a short life (1909-46). During World War II, the Nazis seized her convent but, for some reason, allowed her to continue her art, which provided a primary income source for the sisters during the Nazi occupation.

That Nazi tie-in makes me even more creeped out.

But the whole thing got me to thinking about what people collect, and why.

I recently visited Edgar Digital on Montana Avenue near Solano Drive. I was needing some 5-volt DC adaptors and figured they might have some. “Oh, we’ve got lots of ‘em,” is the response I got when I called.

If you’ve never been there before, it feels like a combination between an electronics museum and the junk drawer in your grandfather’s garage. Only it’s a building full of stuff that could fill both your grandfathers’ garages put together.

Austin’s Jewelry has a fascinating collection of items in its ring museum. I highly recommend a visit.

One of the coolest collections is no longer available for the public to see, but when the restaurant on Valley Drive near Avenida de Mesilla was Old Town Café (now it’s called Lucy’s), there were a half dozen or more old, worn cowboy hats on the wall above the cash register.

The hats belonged to longtime regular customers who had since gone on to the great cattle ranch in the sky. Even though I never knew any of the hats’ owners, seeing them in there always made me feel a little better.

There’s an old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” And that sure holds true with collectibles.

While I don’t really want to be within 100 yards of one of those Hummels, there are many who cherish them and would pay good money for them.

For example, I collect embroidered patches from trips, travels and other experiences. And then I pay good money to The Leather Company of Las Cruces or Lita Castillo at Sew Much More to sew those patches on one of my beat-up vintage canvas travel bags.

When collections become hobbies, they become part of our lives, and that’s a good thing. No matter how creepy it is.