Dream of: 09 June 1996 "Gumball Machines And Puzzles"

While visiting Portsmouth, I ran into a lady with whom I had been acquainted for quite a while, but whom I didn't know really well. Although the woman (probably in her mid 40s) was large and bulky, she had a radiant personality which drew people to her. Since I had never been close to her, I was surprised when she asked me to come up to her living quarters, which were on the third or fourth floor of an old red brick building. I had heard that the woman had unusual living quarters and I was happy that she had invited me. I was anxious to see where she lived.

However, when I arrived and walked into the living room, I was terribly disappointed. The place was sparsely and shabbily furnished with old unattractive furniture – a dull green couch and chair were the main pieces of furniture. Even the walls were dull, with boring blue paint which looked as if it were peeling. This surprised me, for I had heard rumors about how exotic this woman's home was supposed to be. She didn't even have any pictures on the wall. I thought I might offer to lend or give her some pictures, but I quickly decided that wouldn't be proper.

The woman wasn't in the room with me, but I soon heard her voice coming from another part of the quarters. Following the sound, I walked through a door, and looked down a long hall. What I saw surprised me. Ahead of me lay a long hallway – far longer than what I would have thought possible in the brick building I was in – a hallway which looked like something which might be found in a palace. I could see many doors going off the sides of the hallway, and I sensed that all the rooms were filled with extremely interesting objects.

The first room I came to, the room in which I found the woman, seemed to verify my surmises. The room had a festive atmosphere, accented by the back wall, where, sitting arranged on shelves, was a wide assortment of beautiful gum ball machines. I could immediately tell that these weren't ordinary gumball machines, and the woman, now standing by my side, confirmed my conclusions. She began explaining to me that these gumball machines were all collector items and some were from the 1800s and were some of the earliest gumball machines ever made. I was extremely impressed. She pointed out one particular machine, an ornate, elaborately designed specimen which seemed made out of cast iron. This particular machine was apparently her earliest piece, and she seemed to treasure it immensely.

The visual impact of all the gumball machines, all of which were so clean and colorful, was quite compelling. I thought how much I would like to have a collection like this. And I even thought to myself that I already had a toy gumball machine stored away somewhere. But I had never before thought about actually collecting such machines. However a memory now began to come back to me concerning gumball machines.

I now remembered that I used to know a fellow who lived in Portsmouth, a fellow whose name I couldn't now remember, but a fellow who also collected gumball machines. In fact I now remembered that the fellow lived in this very building and even on this very floor. It vaguely seemed as if I had once visited this other fellow and seen his gumball machine collection, which I now recalled was even larger than the woman's. When I mentioned the fellow to the woman, it was immediately clear that she knew to whom I was referring. It was equally clear that she didn't wish to discuss him and that instead she would prefer to show me more of her habitation.

As we began passing through other rooms, I was in awe of what I saw. There was so much that I couldn't even concentrate on what I was seeing, but clearly the woman had been collecting all sorts of unusual and interesting items which she had arranged in vast proliferation throughout her quarters. I had never seen such a display, and I was grateful that the woman had decided to allow me to witness it. And I didn't think this was merely a one time event. I had the feeling that by inviting me in, the woman was allowing me permanent access to this place. As we walked through the rooms, I sensed that other people were also walking around, studying the dazzling array of collectible objects. Finally I did see one fellow sitting at a small student's desk along one wall, studiously examining something on the desk in front of him. I was beginning to realize that the woman allowed some people to come here whenever they wanted and study her collections, and that I myself was now one of the chosen.

For myself, I realized I had never collected anything that was much of interest. However I did remember that I had one small interesting collection which I enjoyed. I had once bought almost 20 old puzzles. They weren't the ordinary modern type of puzzles made of cardboard, but these were made of wood. I thought the puzzles had been made in the 1920s or 1930s. I would have liked to have more old wooden puzzles, and I had looked for them in antique stores, but had never been able to find any more. I therefore knew the ones I had were rare, and I valued them.

I mentioned my puzzle collection to the woman, thinking that since she had so many old things, she might also happen to have some old puzzles. She reached up to a shelf on the wall which we happened to be passing and she pulled down a couple boxes of puzzles. But I saw immediately that they were just the ordinary cardboard puzzles, and they weren't what I was interested in. It looked as if I did at least have one thing which the woman didn't have.

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