In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes


In my mother’s house are many tchotchkes;
if it were not so, well, this wouldn’t
be much of a post, would it?

I grew up in, and, more pertinently, my mother still lives in the Ozarks,1 where the only gated communities are inhabited exclusively by cattle, and luxury home is spelled “d-o-u-b-l-e-w-i-d-e.”

In these parts, the citizenry is allied in the conviction that the guy who wants his neighbors to cease using their lawns as sites for burning is at best an uppity snob and may well be a proponent of socialism, communism, or even vegetarianism. That he is seeking to ban the burning of tires, not leaves, cuts no mustard (or, alternatively, makes no nevermind). There is also a consensus that the other political radical, the one who proposes zoning regulations that would, for example, limit clotheslines to a length of 30 feet and restrict them from front yards, should either keep his nose out of others folks’ business or find happiness elsewhere.

On the plus side, if God is swayed by pleas expressed via roadside signs, America’s blessings are assured for eternity. And, the scenery — at least the portion of the scenery not obscured by cars propped on concrete blocks, the identical pre-fab sheds used for everything from The Tabernacle of the Universal Holy Spirit to Universal Battery Outfitters, Wholesale Division, and handwritten signage pointing the way to Bass Heaven, Bass Haven, Bass Hall, and Just Bass — is striking with rugged hills setting off man-made Table Rock Lake. The view in the photo below is from the deck of my mother’s home.


More specifically, my mother now resides in the Emerald Beach section of Golden, Missouri.2

For you fans of geosociological phenomena, my mother’s home is officially recognized as the nexus of Ozark kitsch and the principle of Newtonian physics that declares “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Every horizontal space and a significant percentage of the vertical planes are packed, often with multiple layers, of magazines, books, toys, food, plants, ceramics, linens, doodads, gadgets, widgets, and on and on – and on and on and on and on … .

One consequence is that my mother’s home has achieved a profound density, which, at the current rate of increase, will cause the southwest corner of the basement sometime in June or July 2021 to transcend into the first documented home-grown specimen of antimatter.

A more practical issue is the home’s resistance to encroachment from the outside world. On one trip, for example, I had purchased, as backup provisions for the offspring, a single thin-crust frozen pizza, assuming that we would slide it into my mother’s freezer until it was needed. This belief was immediately proved to be an off the scale sort of error. Until the local authorities repeal that other law of physics about two bodies not existing in the same space, that pizza ain’t gonna fit in that freezer. The freezer, you see, is part of my mother’s decorating scheme, which is variously labeled as The Glass Is 110% Full, More Is More, or Nothing Succeeds Like Excess.

The walls are sufficiently weighted with displays of 35-45 meat grinders (a fraction of which are pictured below), angels, awls, & augers; and so incredibly much more that I suspect they could withstand tornado-force winds.


Nor are the fine arts ignored. Saw-blade paintings (i.e., paintings on saw-blades, not paintings of saw blades) abound.

Other saw-blades sport classical icons: Jesus (the one with those eyes that follow you), Elvis (in a Las Vegas era sequined jumpsuit, and a smallmouth bass leaping from Table Rock Lake. These are bound to sell out fast; order early for Christmas.

My mother also owns beaucoup boxes of buttons; coping saws, two-man saws, & see-saws; bolts of material with the John Deere logo (three versions); cabinets full of miniature oil lamps; more cabinets filled with shaving gear, including a display of straight razors; and … well, you get the idea.

Update: During a subsequent trip to visit my mother, I took photos of the items Mom has mounted on her walls. These photos are posted at Gallery Of My Mother’s Collectibles.


Note: Originally posted Apr 10, 2006 at, a predecessor of

  1. At the time of posting, my mother was living in the Ozarks; she died in 2013 []
  2. Mom moved from our hometown of Diamond, Missouri to the Emerald Beach section of Golden, Missouri — if someone incorporates a Missouri town called Cubic Zircon, I’m resigned to her living there at some point. []

4 thoughts on “In My Mother’s House Are Many Tchotchkes

  1. Although the type of things collected differ a little, I think I must be a relative of your mother( oh! And therefore you!how wonderful….)

    Her view was lovely – mine, council house rooftops, which only really look pleasant when the haar is swirling round in the early morning. Beautiful, that is.


  2. Yes it does. I am dangerously similar though I just assume I am Bohemian with a life sized anatomical body and head from my former employer – with a hat and clothed that adds to my decor. If I tilt the hat right it won’t scare the neighbor kids.

  3. Your Mom had a great eye! Her positioning and displays remind me of the juxtaposition of paintings and handmade household hardware in the Barnes museum ( in its original venue). Do a search and see for yourself! I don’t envy you the burden of the inheritance, though! That must be a story in itself. Thanks so much for the post. I have a small collection of old block and tackle and pulleys myself. They are art to me!

    PS I have a great Leonard story as well.

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