Sunday, March 2, 2003

Grandma's incredible, but not edible eggs


Prize possessions

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer Contributor

[photo] Barbara Shouse of Symmes Township has filled an old post office mail cabinet with various eggs that she has collected over the years.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
Who: Barbara Shouse, 64, a grandmother of two who definitely sees life "sunny side up."

On display: Her collection of more than 300 decorated eggs and egg-shaped items, including a snow globe, a music box, a "Mother Goose Shoes" advertisement, jewelry, a table lamp, Victorian sewing kit, an apÈritif set and many figurines. She even owns an offshoot collection of Humpty-Dumptys.

Where: In the living room of the Loveland home she shares with Bob, her husband of 42 years.

What came first? Mrs. Shouse's interest in eggs began in 1968 when she found an antique egg shipper in a friend's barn. It could hold up to two dozen eggs and her husband suggested that she fill it with eggs made out of different materials.

"Between presents, antique shops and flea markets I soon filled the two dozen spots," she says. "The collection grew as we were transferred another five times to various locations in the states."

Incredible, inedible: Those transfers were good for her collection. She used the opportunity to collect eggs made by local artists. For example: In Connecticut, she bought "some great hand-blown glass eggs."

No yolk: In addition, Mrs. Shouse's collection includes eggs made of porcelain, alabaster, onyx, teak, obsidian, chalk and charcoal. Her largest egg is made of paper mache and is about "two feet long."

The smallest are four eggs in a "teeny-tiny little basket" that were made for a dollhouse. She even made several herself, using the Ukrainian method of dyeing and waxing "blown-out" eggs.

When asked which item is her favorite, she says an egg carton filled with fire starter eggs that her son, David, found during a summer job in high school.

Clever solution: Friends and family agree that part of the charm of Mrs. Shouse's eggs is the manner in which they are displayed.

"When we were transferred to the Cincinnati area from Connecticut," she says, "We discovered the antiques in Waynesville. In a barn there, we found a post office front that had been in an old grocery store in the same town in Connecticut where our son attended college."

The couple restored the piece and now 128 of her eggs are on display behind the individual post boxes' glass fronts. That's how many eggs she is going to keep.

Now that the couple is retired, they are "downsizing." Their home is on the market, and they will probably move into a condominium.

"I love my collection and those who have added to it," she says. "But it's time to put a stop order on egg collecting."

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; e-mail: marsolete@aol.com. Please include a daytime telephone number.




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