Music boxes come alive
The tiny snowman at the piano is fat and jolly and he is playing, "Let it Snow" and "Jingle Bells." This is one of the 140 music boxes Evelyn and Richard Schroeder have in their apartment on Walnut Street. At Thanksgiving time, Evelyn gets out 27...
The tiny snowman at the piano is fat and jolly and he is playing, "Let it Snow" and "Jingle Bells."
This is one of the 140 music boxes Evelyn and Richard Schroeder have in their apartment on Walnut Street.
At Thanksgiving time, Evelyn gets out 27 music boxes with a Christmas theme and lines them up on the coffee table. She says the one with an angel playing "Silent Night" on the piano must be more than 100 years old. Then she has one with Bing Crosby singing, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," and Evelyn says you can hang that one on a Christmas tree.
Until you meet Evelyn, you have no idea how many different music boxes there are in this world. She didn't know either when she first got started with her collection. She was given her first music box when she was 24 years old and living in Emerado, N.D. It plays "Tea for Two" while two cute little figurines inside the teacup go whirling around.
As the years went by, her collection of music boxes grew like Topsy. She would get them for birthday and Christmas presents, mostly from grandchildren and nieces. She didn't really intend to end up with a china cabinet full of music boxes and more music boxes lined up along her windowsills.
She brings out a tiny music box from the grandchildren and says, "It's so tiny that it's cute." Then she shows an old one with an angel playing "Silent Night" on the organ. She speculates it is 100 years old. There's a copper stove with a frying pan and coffee pot on top, and it plays, "These Are a Few of My Favorite things."
The Christmas collection includes an old cookie tin that came filled with sugar cookies. And to this day, it plays, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
Sometimes Evelyn likes to wind up a bunch of her music boxes and listen to the clamor. Most often, she enjoys them one by one. She has a small wooden box that plays, "Blessed Assurance." And beside it, a copper music box plays, "Old McDonald Had a Farm." She picks up a music box built as the Golden Gate Bridge in California with a train going around inside. It came from a niece, and the price tag underneath says $75.
An angel in a fluffy pink and white gown turns around to the sounds of "Blessed Assurance." You wind up an airplane and it plays, "Toyland."
Evelyn and Richard, or Dick, as he is called, were married Nov. 24, 1984, after the death of her first husband. They have a music box commemorating the day that plays, "We've Only Just Begun." Dick enjoys music and the music boxes and every time he sees one he likes, he buys it for Evelyn. Everyone who knows Evelyn knows what to give her even though she says, "I think I've got enough music boxes."
She brings out an old wooden windmill with official looking insignia. Then she shows a little mouse playing the violin. It was given to her a couple of years ago by a niece as she was about to board a plane in Seattle. It was enough to puzzle the security people, but they eventually gave their OK.
You have to drop a coin in one of her music boxes before it will play. Once the coin hits the floor inside, you hear the happy strains of, "You Are My Sunshine." She shows a music box with horses. Then she brings out the smallest box. It's a gift package about the size of a match box and it plays, "This is One of My favorite Things."
Another music box plays the Star Spangled Banner. Dick saw it in a drugstore and bought it for her because it is built around the Statue of Liberty and decorated with American flags. Evelyn's sister brought her a music box in the shape of a banjo from Hungary. She reaches next for a lighthouse Dick bought her for an anniversary gift. It plays, "By the Beautiful Sea."
Dick and Evelyn work with the Foster Grandparents program at the YMCA. He grew up in the Holmes, N.D., area in a family of nine children. She was one of 12 children. She and her sisters had one doll they shared.
Never would she have dreamed of a vast collection of music boxes. They are all unique and different. Her collection includes a couple of old style radios.
Then there are butterflies on a golden stand that were so pretty Dick says he had to buy it for Evelyn. He likes the words, "You are the wind beneath my wings."
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 772-1055.