Woman Surrounds Her Home With Dozens Of Guests

Neighbors/Glen Burnie

Ornamental Displays Change With The Seasons

September 25, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

You won't find any pink flamingos at 9 Roosevelt Ave. in Glen Burnie.

But you will find pelicans, roosters, a sea horse, penguins, cats, squirrel, geese, deer, Dutch boys and girls, Little Bo Peep, her sheep, skunks, Mickey Mouse, a windmill and even an octopus.

And that's only the stuff out in the yard.

Geraldine Lastner, an avid collector of "anything I can get my hands on," has twice as much stuff in storage as she has on display.

The result of her avidcollecting is an outdoor wonderland of lawn ornaments that delights children and passing motorists, who often stop to ask where certain items were purchased.

Lastner, 52, who goes hunting for new additions almost every weekend, said it got started with a single purchase about 15 years ago.

"A doll -- one doll -- that's what started me out on this," she said, sitting in her living room surrounded by much of her 400-plus doll collection.

Her collections span indoors and out, taking up almost every flat surface inside the modest ranch house, as well as much of the front yard and gardens lining the backyard and around the family pool.

"I just ride around on the weekends and look for new things. When my husband and I get in the car, you never know where we'llend up," she said.

Craft fairs are always a favorite destination, as is Williamsburg, Va., where Lastner said she buys lots of things at good prices.

She also makes many of her lawn ornaments and inside collectibles herself. She has a kiln in the houseand has been dabbling in ceramics for years.

Lastner said her outdoor collection consists of at least 100 pieces at any time.

She has another 100 to 150 pieces in storage in a backyard shed and the basement.

This week, the display was pared down out front of summer items to get ready for her next big effort -- Halloween. The longtimeGlen Burnie resident gears her outdoor displays to special holidays three or four times a year, really doing it up big for Halloween and Christmas.

"I'll have hay stacks, pumpkins, ghosts and things hanging from the trees," she said. "And I bought this huge scarecrow thisyear."

Lastner estimates the worth of her collections, inside andout, at about $15,000. Most of her lawn ornaments cost about $25 to $50. The most she spent on an outdoor piece was $100 for a waist-highLittle Bo Beep.

Her sheep cost $50 a piece.

Lastner spends at least 10 hours a week on her collections -- making new things or repairing old, shopping and setting up arrangements. She finds it enjoyable, she said, but admits it's a bit of a burden for her husband, Edward.

"He takes more time cutting the grass than I do setting everything up," she said. "Well, I guess that's because he has to take everything down."

Lastner, a former hospital worker, mother of six andgrandmother of 11, said she was diagnosed late last year with leukemia. Although the illness might slow some people down, Lastner said she decided early on she wouldn't let it.

She also cares for two toddlers and several school-age children, a combination of her grandchildren and others.

"When I got sick, people said, 'Oh, you can't care for the grandchildren anymore,'

"I said, 'Sure, I can.' "

Thechildren, who "all pile into the house after school," respect her collections, and she never has to put anything away, even the collectible Cabbage Patch Doll worth about $2,000, she said.

"You just tap their fingers and say 'no-no.' They know what they can and can't playwith," she said. "I never put anything up."

Indeed, putting up her collections would be quite a chore.

Keeping them out for all to see is what makes Lastner's collecting a labor of love.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.