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World Traveler

A new home is this collector’s colorful canvas

Created date

March 15th, 2018
A Dentzel goat that once graced a carousel now prances in the great room of Kay Bell’s apartment home at Maris Grove.

A Dentzel goat now prances in the great room of Kay Bell’s apartment home.

Kay Bell is a collector, so moving from a large home in Florida to a sunny one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath corner apartment home at Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., entailed some downsizing.

While Kay winnowed many items from her various collections, she still was able to bring the things that meant the most to her.

Kay’s great room showcases impressive examples of the wooden nutcrackers and smokers she collected during the Bells’ many post-retirement trips to Europe. Some of the nutcrackers stand three feet tall near Kay’s front door; others, which are miniature size, reside in glass-fronted display cases.

While the nutcrackers all look somewhat alike, the smokers are delightfully individual. One of them is a lady knitting; some are also music boxes. “You put incense inside their bodies and the ‘smoke’ comes out of their pipes,” Kay explains.

Her collection of soft-sculpture dolls, many from Europe, also includes an original Cabbage Patch doll made in Babyland and signed by its maker.

Train travelers

The Bells took frequent trips to Europe because Kay’s late husband Bill was a train buff. And, says Kay, “Europe was the place that still had functioning train service. It was efficient, accurate, and on time.”

As you might expect, the Bells rode trains on those travels through Europe.

Of their many trips, Kay loved staying in Venice during its Carnival. She was thrilled by Switzerland’s mountains and the quaintness of its picturesque villages. But she most enjoyed going on safari in South Africa.   

Though most of Kay’s memorabilia stems from trips abroad, her two eye-catching carousel animals were made right in Philadelphia.

A stunning, gray-and-blue carousel horse gallops in Kay’s bay window, and a life-size chocolate-brown Dentzel goat prances in her great room.

The carousel animals, as well as smaller collectibles, represent the Bells’ circus connections. Bill was a clown who entertained at church events. As members of Clowns, Mimes, Puppets, and Dance (CMPD), the couple attended CMPD conventions across the country.

Close call

Having her much-loved carousel pieces with her lifted Kay’s spirits when, shortly after her move, she experienced some unexpected medical issues.

Luckily, when she moved she changed her doctor to a Maris Grove staff physician who practices in the campus medical center. Had her medical issues required additional care, Kay could have received it at Maris Grove’s rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood, which is also on campus.

Kay has no children. If she’d gotten ill in Florida, it would have been difficult for her sister, who lives in West Chester, Pa., and her brother-in-law, who lives in Delaware, to make frequent trips to help her.

Kay is now dipping her toe into campus life. She eats dinner every night with close friends in one of Maris Grove’s six campus restaurants, plays card games with her neighbors, and is thinking about joining some special-interest groups.

“I feel I’m truly a part of Maris Grove,” Kay says.