Nutcracker Collectors

Clarence and Delora have been residents of SE Portland for over sixty years. In October they celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary, and they still live in the house they moved to shortly after they were married.

Delora is a native or Portland and Clarence comes from the town of Antelope long before the Bhagwan and his followers stirred things up there.

Delora  and Clarence
Delora and Clarence

Clarence has always been a collector. His first interest was in rocks and he was inspired by his dad who had the Antelope Rock Museum. After the museum closed, many of the rocks went to the Peterson Rock Garden between Redmond and Bend. Some of the rocks that were donated can’t be found any more.

When Clarence was a young man he  also started collecting slogan buttons found inside boxes of Pep cereal. He now has an interesting button collection that he keeps categorized and stored in special glass top boxes so they can be shown and stored easily. (When he heard that our friend Hayley had a boyfriend named Ike he gave her several of the “I like Ike” buttons popular in the fifties.)

One box that was an honor to see were Clarence’s badges and medals from the Korean War. He received a purple heart, Combat Infantry, commendation for being in five major battles, fifty year veteran, Korean General Award, United Nations, Army branch of the service and several others. The collection is impressive.

At Christmas every year, Clarence and Delora trudge up and down their stairs bringing up their collection of nutcrackers. There are probably over five hundred of them and counting. They especially enjoy finding them at garage sales and flea markets – any place where someone might be getting rid of an unwanted nutcrackers.They’ve got a home here.

The sight is spectacular and when asked which one is their favorite, there’s no quick answer, though Clarence pointed out that the chimney sweep is one of the oldest, made in Germany.

The first wooden nutcrackers were simply two pieces of wood fastened together by a leather strap or metal hinge.

By the 18th and 19th Centuries, carvers in Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy were producing many carved nutcrackers in the likeness of animals and humans.

Standing wooden nutcrackers in the form of soldiers and kings were shown in Germany by 1800 and in 1830.  In 1892 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky immortalized this type of nutcracker in his ballet and music, The Nutcracker.

Today it is difficult to find European-style nutcrackers as many of them are made in China.

Clarence and Delora enjoy them nontheless and carefully get them out and look at all the different characters the nutcracker has become over the years.

Nutcracker Collectors

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