BOONE LIFE: Walking into a collector's house, walking into the '50s

Thursday, December 15, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 2:17 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sandi Adams is an avid collector of nostalgia and Americana. She has been collecting since she was a teenager. She chooses to surround herself with the things that she loves and the things that make her happy. Adams wanted her daughter Haley to have a fun and exciting childhood, and hoped her collecting would add to that.

COLUMBIA — Sandi Adams’ house stands out in its neighborhood off Creasy Springs Road. The siding is bright pink, and flamingos perch in the yard, on the mailbox and the front steps.

“I surround myself with things that I love," she said. "It makes me smile. It makes me happy.” 

Mizzou flags fly at the front of the house. A flamingo hangs on the front door, leading into a house full of Americana and 1950s memorabilia. The first thing you notice is the large "Wizard of Oz" collection in the entryway. Oz figurines, toys, lunch boxes, board games and pairs of ruby red slippers line the walls and sit on shelves.

The movie is one of Adams’ childhood favorites. She remembers figuring out the messages in the film and has had a soft spot for it ever since.

Adams began collecting when she was 13. Her parents were avid collectors, and her grandmother collected a little bit as well. Adams has been acquiring 1950s memorabilia for a long time. She wishes she'd lived in the '50s; she thinks of it as a simpler time.

Adams has a 17-year-old daughter, Haley, whom she adopted after she and her husband divorced. Soon after that, Adams’ longtime friend, Carol Terrell, went through a divorce as well. As friends of more than 20 years, college roommates and nurses who used to work together, the two decided to become roommates. Terrell is Haley’s godmother, and the three make up a nontraditional family.

When Haley went to kindergarten, Adams decided to start an in-home day care. She invites toddlers and babies into her home full of fragile and expensive antiques. Adams can remember only one time a collectible has been broken.

For Adams, collecting memorabilia is a way to preserve the past. She especially loves finding items from her own history. Her daughter is familiar with the toys Adams had, as well as plenty of other cultural references from before her time.

“She grew up with a '50s jukebox playing,” Adams said.

There is an inherent value in articles from the past for Adams, whether they mean something to her personally or give her a glimpse of how life used to be.

She will always be a collector, though she has vowed never to use the Internet to shop for collectibles. It can be a dangerous place for collectors, and she chooses to avoid the temptation. She prefers to hunt for antiques at flea markets and shops around Missouri.

Although her collecting has slowed a bit over the years, she still makes shopping trips to buy new items every few months and still receives gifts from family and friends. Her focus may change over time, whether its Coke, TWA or Old Crow, but one theme will always stay the same.

“If I ever got a tattoo," Adams said, "it would be a pink flamingo.”

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