By Ron VandenBoom
They're mostly personal stories that speak to Jo Martin as she looks admiringly over her collection of ornamental teapots.
Memories of her grandmother and her brother flood her mind as she arranges first one, then another on the display racks just off the lobby of the Heritage Center. Memories are also revived of a trip she once took to Spokane and a gift she received from Louisiana.
"Lots of different stories," Martin said, as she arranges first a teacup and then a teapot on the table at the front of the display area. "Take the little cheap one down there, I got that from a hardware store in Texas it has such a different shape."
Some of the teapots belonged to her grandmother, while another used to belong to her mother-in-law. Still another was a gift from her brother and the colorful one in front was purchased from a Salvation Army store for 25 cents.
"I've never spent very much on them," she said. "I've just had fun collecting them."
Martin has an emotional attachment to each of the teapots in her collection that transcends their monetary value, or perhaps the lack of value, this assortment might have. Martin has never checked into the collection's value.
The oldest teapot on display is more than 50 years old. Martin received it when she was still a child, but she is not sure that age necessarily equals value.
She knows there are other people who collect teapots a fact that came home to her after she met another woman in Wyoming who was also a collector. She's unaware, however, of any national organizations of teapot collectors or whether there might be websites dedicated to the hobby.
It's just something she's never been concerned about.
To Martin, the decorative qualities of teapots and the variety of shapes, sizes and colors are what make them treasures.
The only teapot Martin did not include in the Heritage Center display is made of pewter and was given to her by her son in Louisiana. She believes that it probably came to the United States on a sailing ship during the 19th century.
It includes a cream and sugar dispenser and, according to Martin, is "really beat up."
"I didn't bring that one, because I figured that one was valuable," she said.
The remaining teapots have been carefully arranged in the north half of the display area just off the lobby of the Heritage Center where they will be open to public viewing through the month of April.
To anyone wondering, Martin does like drinking tea, provided that it is good tea.
The kind you steep in a teapot, she said.