In the Hobby Hall at the Washington State Fair, Puyallup resident Cassandra Anderson has on display her collection of handkerchiefs — all 900 of them.
Anderson, 45, received her first handkerchief 23 years ago from her sister, who was going to make a quilt out of them.
“I just thought they were so cute and I started collecting them,” Anderson said.
From there, Anderson’s passion for collecting handkerchiefs flourished. Throughout the years, she picked up handkerchiefs from garage sales, thrift stores and friends.
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Sure, some people used the handkerchiefs to wipe their noses, Anderson said, but the ones in her collections are all clean — and there are so much more to their stories.
“(People) put them in their pockets or a lady would use one to wipe her brow,” Anderson said. “There’s so much history. They could have used (one) when they cried.”
One of Anderson’s favorite pieces is a Puyallup handkerchief with a map print on it. She has handkerchiefs from states all over the country.
(People) put them in their pockets or a lady would use one to wipe her brow. There’s so much history. They could have used (one) when they cried.
While she might never know all the stories behind every handkerchief she’s found, Anderson keeps some of the pieces separate — the ones that she holds especially dear.
Anderson worked at Nalley’s Fine Foods in Tacoma for five years before it went out of business in 2011. When one fellow worker found out Anderson collected handkerchiefs, she brought in a bunch of her own to give to Anderson.
“She had a cute tiny pink one with her name on it,” Anderson said. “I’ve had a lot of people give them to me.”
Anderson now works at Costco. She’s lived in Puyallup all her life and graduated from Puyallup High School in 1990. Her parents, sisters and extended family live in the area, too.
“Ever since I was little (my) mom would take us through Hobby Hall and I just said one day, you know, I would like to put a collection of mine in here,” Anderson said.
Anderson did just that this year and filled out an application for the Fair’s Hobby Hall. She was selected in the summer and set up her display in August. Setting up only took her a single day, because she can carry all 900 pieces of her collection in a single suitcase.
“It took a few hours,” she said. “Probably five or six. I tried to get them all in.”
Ever since I was little (my) mom would take us through Hobby Hall and I just said one day, you know, I would like to put a collection of mine in here.
This year wasn’t the first year that Anderson showed off her collection at the Hobby Hall. She showed her collection first in 2012. One year, she displayed another collection of Nalley’s Fine Food paraphernalia.
While the handkerchiefs and Nalley’s collections seem vastly different, they both have stories — and both are difficult to find anymore.
Before she passed away a few years ago, a relative of Anderson gave her 20 handkerchiefs, and was one of the reasons Anderson put up a display at the Hobby Hall.
“She would have loved that,” the 45-year-old said. “She worked at the Fair and would have loved it. The (handkerchiefs) are very sentimental to me. I keep them separate so I don’t mix them up.”
Anderson’ display at the Hobby Hall will be up through Sunday (Sept. 25), when the Fair ends.
“I like old-fashioned things like this,” Anderson said. “I have some really old ones. I wonder how (they) get all the way to 2016.”