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Longtime collector bids farewell to antiques in three auctions

Friday, June 4, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:48 a.m. CDT, Friday, June 4, 2010
Lola Brooks has two scrapbooks filled with pages of photos and articles written about her and her antique collection. The scrapbooks include articles from Columbia publications that date from the 1960s to the 1990s.

COLUMBIA – Lola Brooks spent a lifetime collecting antiques.

This weekend she will begin to sell them all.

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“Those antiques were pretty much her life,” her son, Terry Brooks, 57, said.

But Lola, 88, has dementia and can no longer take care of her belongings. She fell in her home last August and was diagnosed with the debilitating disease during her stay at the hospital.

Her two children have decided to sell her vast collection of glass, quilts and other antiques in three separate auctions. The first will be at 10 a.m. Saturday followed by another on June 19.

Both will be in Columbia's Kemper Arena, 1270 Boone Industrial Blvd., under the direction of Jacobs & Kemper Auction & Realty Co.

The third auction will be at her home on the north end of West Boulevard, although a date has not been set.

"I have so many memories of all her collecting and all her things at home," her daughter, Rita Bishop, 59, said.

"I just look at things and get really sentimental about it, but Terry and I both have full houses, so there is no way we could have taken it all."

Saturday's auction will feature Lola's array of glassware, more than 350 pieces total . The auction brochure describes Bavarian, Czech, German, French and Austrian pieces.

Among them are carnival glass vases and bowls, jugs, hand-painted china, cut-glass pitchers and punch sets, sterling silver flatware and more.

Her daughter said her favorite piece in the sale is an tea set from Canada. She remembers the moment her mother purchased it and describes it as being "very English-looking," white with gold trim and delicately hand-painted red and yellow flowers.

The later auctions include walnut, cherry and oak furniture, quilts, lamps, primitives and other collectibles. 

It’s fitting that Lola’s antiques are going out the same way they came in – by auction. Her children say she used to go to sales nearly every week, and she loved to bring her husband and children with her.

They remembered her calling her son's school one day and telling the secretary he was sick, so he could go to an auction with her.

She is so attached to the items that she has decided not to attend the auctions.

"She has said several times that she didn't want to be there because it would be too hard for her," her daughter said.

Lola said she knows that if she goes, she will want to take everything back.

“I am 88 years old, soon to be 89," she said. "That is too old to be going to auctions.”

It was her idea to sell the antiques, but her children refused to comply until they knew she was absolutely certain. Because of her condition, they waited until the third time she mentioned it before they took action.

"She has totally accepted it," her daughter said.

Her decline in health has been gradual but steady. Her son said he suspected something was wrong long before she fell.

She used to hand-piece and quilt blankets for the family, he said, and was usually working on a new design. One day, she just stopped and told him she didn’t want to do it anymore.

“I didn’t think she’d ever give that up,” he said.

Lola grew up on a farm in Murray and lived there until her family lost the land during the Great Depression. She moved to Columbia and lived in a small apartment until meeting and marrying her husband, Woody.

In 1961, they bought what she called “the big house," a two-story white house with an iron fence at 809 West Blvd. N.

“I thought I would stay there forever,” she said.

Once she had the house, she wanted to fill it with antiques. Soon, however, the family needed more space for the collection.

Lola said her husband always talked about buying a cabin, and they finally got their chance in 1969.

They saw an advertisement for a pioneer cabin in the March 9, 1969, edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Her son said his father bought the building because he knew how much his wife would love it.

They moved it log by log and placed it next to the white house on West Boulevard, where it stands today.

Lola and her cabin of treasures were featured in Columbia newspapers and magazines well into the 1990s. She has two scrapbooks filled with yellowed articles and her meticulous handwritten annotations, and she even has the original advertisement for the old cabin.

Her children hope the people who go to the auctions appreciate their mother's collection as much as she did.

“I’ve done so much my whole life, and I can’t remember it,” Lola said.


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