Tuesday, January 10, 2012

REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS: NOT JUST A SOUVENIR

Son-in-law Kurt provided
"I express my individuality" magnet :)
Yes, I've been collecting refrigerator magnets for many years, and I have hundreds of these colorful bits of plastic, wood, glass, feathers--what have you.  Do I have one from every place I've ever visited or lived?  In a word, no.  Growing up in a military family and living overseas in several foreign countries, there was no such thing as fridge magnets BACK THEN.  A "dear" friend asked the other day, "Oh, did they even have REFRIGERATORS when you were a child??"  He'd better be joking!

My husband Clark tells people that we'll have to get a second fridge one of these days if I keep collecting.  But I just have the top half of the front and one side decorated, anyway--still have lots of room to spare.

Various magnets are dedicated to particular themes: 

PLACES - A quick glance across the fridge reveals some of the places we have visited in the U.S., in no particular order:  NY, NJ, VT,  KY, OK, IN, AR, NH, TN, FL, GA, SC, AZ, NM, TX, MA, VA, WV, and IL.  A friend from church recently gave me two magnets from when he used to travel for his work:  one from Malaysia and one from Vietnam (I haven't been to either place).  I also have a couple of magnets from Hawaii, given to me by friends and family, and I haven't been there, either. Our daughter Bethany and son-in-law Kurt gave me a die (singular form of dice) from Las Vegas, from their vacation last year.

There are also special events/places we've enjoyed in New York City: The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater, the United Nations, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, Little Italy, Long Island Ferry, St. Patrick's Cathedral, The Twin Towers (we were there in May before Sept. 11), the Bronx Zoo, and Junior's Cheesecake in Brooklyn. I don't have a magnet from Carmine's Italian Restaurant, The Brooklyn Tabernacle, Rockefeller Center, Chinatown, Radio City, Madam Toussaud's Wax Museum (where I had my picture taken with the wax version of Brad Pitt), or Fulton's Fish Market, but I do have a New York City taxicab. 

We've also visited The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC; Linville Caverns in the NC mountains; Cape May, NJ; the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel (we once lived on MD's Eastern Shore in Pocomoke City); the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, MI (featured in the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME, starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve--I love that movie!); the Grand Canyon; Niagara Falls; The Continental Divide, NM; PA Dutch Country; Hersey's Chocolate Factory; Sedona, AZ; Myrtle Beach, SC; Disney World in FL; various points of interest around Washington, DC, such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol Building; and the Smithsonian; and of course, Graceland in Memphis, TN!  I also have a guitar-shaped magnet emblazoned with "ELVIS."  For you barbecue lovers out there, we ate at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis, and trust me, it deserves its rating in the top ten BBQ restaurants by the Food Network.  Where DID that little pig from there go??

Although my family and I visited the World's Fair in Brussels, Belgium, when I was a child in 1958, there were no magnets back then, so I made one out of a necklace I had depicting The Atomium, a huge silver building shaped like an atom, with concourses connecting the sections representing "neutrons" and "electrons" to the "nucleus" of the building.  Quite imposing. While on this same trip, we experienced the Tulip Festival in Holland, which was breathtaking, with intricate floats made entirely of flowers.  No magnet there, but I do have a set of decorative wooden shoes.  We visited medieval castles in Germany, and I've misplaced the mouse souvenir I bought from a little shop.  As an adult, I've wondered what was the significance of a mouse souvenir from a castle--perhaps because mice were common inhabitants in them?  On another trip across Europe, we attended a bull fight in Spain accompanied with much ceremony and flourishes from the bull fighters, but that was not really to my liking--I felt sorry for the bull.  No magnet for that, but I do have a handkerchief :).

CHOCOLATE (are you surprised??) - one proclaims that "Families are like fudge:  mostly sweet with a few nuts." One of my favorites  is my chocolate chip cookie, which looks so real that someone actually tried to eat it years ago when I placed it on a tray (as a joke) with real cookies!  I also have a chocolate candy bar.  It looks real, too, and the granddaughters thought it WAS the real thing.
  
OLD-TIMEY AMERICANA - an old treadle sewing machine, a wood cook stove, an ironing board/iron, along with a hand-cranked meat grinder, a cast iron skillet containing eggs and bacon, percolator for coffee, egg beater, old radio, carton of eggs, sacks of flour and grain, rolling pin, Coca-cola memorabilia (remember the polar bears?), Ivory soap, a milk bottle like those which used to be delivered to homes. 

FOODS - a tossed salad, a blueberry pie, a tin of muffins, a stack of pancakes, a bunch of bananas, a cutting board laden cheese and salami, a basket of apples, a basket of fresh veggies. 

COWS - ranging from one that moos when a button is pushed to a cow thermometer, and even a little stuffed animal cow with magnets on its hooves.  In fact, my kitchen is decorated with black-and-white cow decor, but that's for another post!

Also in the mix are magnets about family:  "A daughter is a forever friend," and one of my personal favorites, "Grandmas are special" (I didn't buy that--the granddaughters gave it to me); terse sayings:  "You can't scare me:  I'm a teacher!" - "Lord, grant me patience, but hurry!" - "Never trust a skinny cook,"   And in honor of the dachshunds in our family (and my books), of course I have a doxie magnet.

For some inexplicable reason, I also have a trashcan full of trash, a butterfly, a gumball machine, a gingerbread man, an outdoor grill, Poppin' Fresh dough boy, and a painting by the French artist Monet (Oh yes:  that was from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC).

I have the loaf of french bread from Paris, France, and also a sombrero and woven blanket from Mexico.  I bought neither one myself, and although I lived in France as a child, my brother brought me the Paris magnet.  A family member gave me the Mexico magnet.  And, there's a maple leaf flag, representing our enjoyable car trip across much of beautiful Canada a few years ago.  

Oh, and missing from my collection are places for which I have no magnets to herald that I've been there, unless you count old family photographs and home movies!  Florida (we lived in Homestead, south of Miami),  Oregon, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Delaware, Ohio (lived in Cincinnati), Wyoming, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland (we once lived on the Eastern Shore, and later in Rockville), Connecticut, South Dakota, Kansas, Alaska (lived in Ft. Greely, south of Fairbanks, for 3.5 years, and I attended summer camps in Denali National Park, site of Mt. McKinley), and Missouri. I plan to check online for obtaining those one of these days.

There--I've mentioned the interesting ones.  More than just colorful bits on our refrigerator, these magnets represent wonderful memories of enjoyable trips and fun places we've visited.  The others make great conversation starters that proclaim views on life or humorous sayings:  "I am woman--I am invincible--I am tired."

Voila!
Above all, they represent to me the blessings in my life:  the great times spent with family and friends and the travel to places we've enjoyed.

Photographs are merely a slice of time that proclaim split seconds of life, but my magnets represent the entirety of the experience.  My final mention, but perhaps my most important magnet, proclaims:  "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."  Matthew 6:33 KJV

AMEN.

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