Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Shake, Rattle, and Roll"

I don't remember how or why it got started, but when I was a fairly little girl (maybe 4 or 5?) I began to collect salt and pepper shakers.  Well, as much as a child that age can "collect" anything!  I guess my mom was really doing the collecting at first, but I liked them and as I got older I began to take more of an interest in acquiring new sets.  Every now and then, if Mom was feeling particularly pleased with me or in a really good mood, she would let me take them out of the cabinet to "play" with them.

Playing with them pretty much consisted of taking them all out, looking at them (like seeing old friends), then moving them around,  making them into families, and then getting bored and running off to do something else....until Mom would corral me and drag ....uuuhhh....take me back to help put them away again. 

At the time we were living in Florida and with the exception of my grandparents part of the time, every living relative I had was in Illinois or Wisconsin!  But like most families at the time, they were all serious letter writers and we never felt forgotten.  As part of that family thing, lots of my aunts and uncles would periodically send me cute sets or funny ones or souvenir ones from all across the country.  There were ceramic, wood, plaster, glass, and plastic salt and pepper sets.  All sorts of sets of farm animals, buildings, places, nursery rhymes, cartoon characters, flowers, fish, sports, appliances, people....as I think back on it, it was pretty amazing.  You could get S&P sets at every tourist attraction in the world!  Souvenir shops in every city have sets.  And I ended up getting a  lot of them.

The collection got pretty large over the years (at least 150 pairs, as I recall) and it got packed up and moved, unpacked, and displayed many, many times over (we moved a lot.)  We rented a lot of houses over time and they all pretty much came with a glass-door cabinet of some sort, or at least some bookshelves somewhere, and that is where the salt and pepper shakers lived, until we moved again. 

Unfortunately when I was 17, there was a period of time that my folks split up for about 18 months, it wasn't an amicable split or a happy time in my life.  After the split, it was just Mom (trying to hold us together), me (angry at the world), and Little Sis (who was just confused).  Mom tried to find a job, but we were living in a tiny little town and there was no work for a woman with no transportation.  (Dad took the car!!!)  We had to move.  I was two weeks into my Senior Year, and we had to MOVE!  (As I said I was mad, mad, mad....at my mom and my dad, in fact at the whole world (with the exception of Little Sis who had no idea why I was so grumpy all the time.)  But I digress, that is a post for another day!

At any rate, mom decided the best thing we could do was go back to Chicago where we had family and she would be able to find a job to support us.  One of Mom's brothers and his wife drove to Florida to move us back to Chicago.  We could only take what would fit in just a VW bus and a U-Haul.

Sorry the photo is in such bad shape!  It was a slide that belonged
 to my uncle and it had been damaged over the years.

There wasn't a lot of room and choices had to be made. So the salt and pepper shakers collection didn't make the cut.  It didn't matter very much to me at 17, there were other, more important changes happening to be upset about.  My whole life was feeling like "Shake, Rattle, and Roll", and keeping my collection wouldn't have helped a bit!

Nevertheless, in the years since, I have often wished there had been another something we could have culled instead.  Actually, in the years since, I have often wondered what life would have been like, if our circumstances had never changed at all.  I have no idea, of course, but it did change and we all lost a lot more than salt and pepper shakers.


  1. I can't even imagine how you must have felt. I had the super-duper set of parents who I never heard say a cross word to each other during my whole growing up years.
    I feel for your loss though. Not the salt and pepper shakers, but the innocence and the security that comes with being a family. Maybe you should collect salt and pepper shakers again. Just for grins and giggles, and not as a reminder of a time of hurt in your life.
    Chin up, Mel. I am finding that as time surges onward, I am sometimes melancholy over times gone by. That's okay! I think I will shut up now.

  2. I can't imagine anything more traumatic for a teenager than having her parents split. I'd have thought it was the end of the world, and I can understand your "mad, mad, mad."

    Don't you just want to go back and hug that 17-year old you? I do.

  3. My folks also split up when I was a teen and some of those scars just don't heal!

    As for the S&P shakers, my daughter had a friend who also collected them. However, her version of "collecting" was stealing them from restaurants!


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