Monday, February 22, 2016

And Why Would I Have That In My House?


Most of us collect something. Collecting starts in childhood, right? Baseball cards (for those of us old enough to remember that), Pez dispensers, comic books, cookbooks, decorative plates, you name it, someone collects it. 

I had collections when I was younger, too: I liked boxes, the weirder-shaped the better. I collected clippings on rock & roll bands and in high school, on a particular sports celebrity. I hoarded yarn, knitting patterns, and wildly colorful socks. As I grew into adulthood I turned to gargoyles, books about ghosts, and books that hide secret compartments, that is, containers designed to hang out on bookshelves even though they are not actually books. I've always had a thing about secret compartments, whether an actual hidden room or the smaller kind of cache like I own-just large enough to hold jewelry or special letters and cards or even other small collectibles.  And I still like boxes, although the ones I collect these days are made of wood and part of a sparse collection because they tend to be a bit pricey. 

Other people I know collect antiques. And yes, I have visited this particular topic before, but after watching one of my Haunted Collector repeats (they're all repeats; for some inexplicable reason, SyFy cancelled the show. Boo! Hiss!), I saw an antique that to me was so outside the pale that I can't
imagine wanting to buy it and bring it home. But more on that later.

People who collect antique knick-knacks, photo frames (without those scary pictures in them), silverware, or china cups are understandable to me. The woman I saw on TV, however,  who bought and displayed coffin plates in her home, astonished me. Back in the olden days, coffin plates were nailed to the tops of occupied coffins that were kept in storage to await burial when the spring thaw arrived. So this very brave (or crazy) woman had the genuine coffin plates off of some peoples' winter coffins hung upon the wall outside one of her bedrooms. YIKES! 

Then there's the whole porcelain doll thing. Except for clowns, nothing gives me the willies like a porcelain doll. I take that back: a wax museum would do the trick. But I can avoid those. There's no avoiding the dolls when you're visiting someone's home for the first time and realize that they collect these things and have have a score of them on display on their shelves. All those glazed eyes staring at you when you enter the room. And you can't tell me that they don't move on their own when no one's looking. I KNOW they do.

So that brings me to the particular Haunted Collector item that freaked me out so much that I thought about it for days, unable to reason out why someone would want this in their own home. The particular antique store that John Zaffis and crew were investigating had an effigy doll. Ever hear of one? I hadn't until I saw the show. An effigy doll was something that parents had made when they lost a child. A cast would be made of the dead child's face, and then that would be used to make a doll that could be dressed up just like the child would have been while alive. I understand grieving parents wanting to have something like that, I really do. No parent should have to bury a child. On the other hand, some one-hundred years later when the entire family is gone or scattered, why would someone go to an antique store and decide they needed to buy that particular doll? Just looking at the one I saw gave me the willies. There was something about the way the eyes needed to be set in the doll's head, probably because the manufacturer was working with a completed face already. Needless to say, in the show, this particular item was known to relocate itself to different parts of the store, sometimes even to an entirely different room. 

I don't mock any parent's grief. I am sure an effigy doll might have brought comfort to those trying to live with the deep wounds left by the loss of a child. On the other hand, I am grateful to be in this time and this age of technology, where memories can be enhanced with photographs and videos.

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