Collecting salt and pepper shakers a family affair




On a recent trip to Belize, recent GCHS graduate Ally Maynard kept her eyes peeled for a set of salt and pepper shakers to add to her grandmother's collection.

"See, I'm easy to shop for at Christmastime," Maynard's grandma Belva Rosenau said. "I say, 'hey, just buy me a set of salt and pepper shakers.'"

According to Rosenau, when anyone in the family goes on vacation, they are always on a mission to find a unique set of shakers to add to her collection of nearly 4,000 sets totalling approximately 8,000 individual shakers.

"See, this is what they do when they go someplace. She got me two more sets," Rosenau said holding up the newest additions to her collection. A pair of brightly-colored shakers shaped like tropical fish and a more traditional looking set both found at airport gift shops in Belize.

"My (other) granddaughter that just got married, her husband's job was to go ask where the salt and pepper shakers were and so I got the whole family looking for me," she said.

Walking into Rosenau's basement is almost like stepping foot into a salt and pepper shaker museum. Shelves line the walls packed with shakers in every shape and size for every season, holiday or occasion imaginable.

"This is my little world down here," she said, looking around the room where all of the shakers are lined up and on display for anyone who visits her home. "I don't want them packed in boxes. If you can't have them out to look at them you don't need them."

Rosenau inherited her grandmother's shaker sets after she passed away in 1977. She remembers playing with them as a kid and has been adding to the collection ever since.

"I remember as a little girl saying 'I want these someday' and being the only granddaughter I got them," she said.

She picks up a set of shakers that look like a lemon sitting on a bookcase filled with food shaped shakers.

"This set here was kind of special," Rosenau said. "It was always special to my grandma. I remember she always let me play with them but (said) 'Belva Gene don't break them' and they're chalk. My uncle gave them to her just before he went to Germany in World War II and he got killed over there, so they were very, very special to her."

She then reaches for another one of her grandmother's shakers. This one is shaped like a slice of watermelon sitting next to several other sets that look exactly the same. "I broke this one right here and she scotched taped it back together and we've had it all these years," she said, showing the hole in the bottom covered with a layer of clear tape.

The shakers are something Rosenau's own grandkids looked forward to playing with each time they visited her home in their younger years.

"They used to come over and play with them," she said. "I never told them no because my grandma never told me I couldn't play with them."

Rosenau plans to keep the shakers in the family, already having promised them to Maynard.

"This one right here is going to take them," she said gesturing towards Maynard, who will be a freshman at Wichita State University in the fall.

"It's in the will," Maynard added.

"Yep," Rosenau said. "This one's going to take them. She always said since she was a little girl 'I want those someday' so I said okay."

Rosenau is working to catalogue all of her shakers in a book so that future generations will know where they came from. For now, the shakers are proudly displayed on shelves for her and her family and friends to enjoy.

"Grandma's house wouldn't be grandma's house without the salt and pepper shakers," said Maynard. "Ever since I was a little girl this is what I remember seeing all the time."

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