Marbles Everywhere and No One Has Lost Them

submitted by: Kath Pengelly, volunteer and advocate coordinator

A wonderful partnership has formed in Hastings at the Hastings Senior Center. Once a month our Hastings clients gather at the Senior Center to hear about a hobby or collection from one of the very active seniors who attend the Senior Center.

Lifeworks volunteers Bill and Ann Sylvander

Lifeworks volunteers Bill and Ann Sylvander

I had the pleasure of joining the group at the last presentation which was given by Bill Sylvander and his wife Ann, all about marbles. Bill’s marble stash is just one of fourteen passions that Bill collects. All of us listening to him left amazed that there was so much to know about marbles.

Did you know that marbles date back to ancient times? Marbles have been made from glass, clay, steel, plastic or agate. One marble aficionado, claims that he holds in his possession a marble from the tomb of King Tut.

IMG_1614While we primarily think of them being used for games, they have also been used as a voting method and even ship ballast. Bill explained that in years past people used white marbles to vote in favor of a candidate and a black marble to indicate against, hence the term “blackballed.” The term “losing your marbles,” was originally intended to indicate that you had played a game and lost your possessions.

IMG_1617The first marbles in the United States came in the hulls of ships bringing goods to the colonists. They were used as ballast to balance the center of gravity but once the ship landed they were sold to the general public to use as a toy.

Bill first began his collection in 1980. He was at an auction and saw a five gallon jar of marbles. He thought, “I want that”.  Someone else won the bid and Bill came home empty handed but filled with intrigue about marbles. Today he has thousands of marbles and scores of marble paraphernalia. We learned about German Swirls, Cat Eyes, Moonies, Purees, Steelies, Oxbloods, Lutz and the coveted Onionskin.

Partnering with the Senior Center in Hastings has allowed us to learn about the hobbies, collections, and interests of other members of the Hastings community. We have learned about woodcarving, Match Box Cars and hunting. We have been the appreciative audience soaking up new information about things we have never considered. People like Bill and Ann have had a chance to share with others the things that bring them passion.

Bill speaking to clients about marbles

Bill speaking to clients about marbles

Now that Bill shared that he has thirteen other collections we are excited to think about what we might see next month. Chris Runtsch from Lifeworks Hastings has also been invited to be a presenter. Chris, too, is collector and willing to share with others his passion for collecting. In January of 2013, he will take the floor and talk about his Lego collection.

In the meantime I think I might just go home and look through my drawers to see if I still have any marbles. It could be fun to start playing again.

Thank you Bill and Ann Sylvander for sharing your enthusiasm and collection, and thank you Mary O’Brien and Laurie Thrush from the Hastings Senior Center for helping us form this very special partnership.


Leave a comment

Filed under Volunteers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s