By Ben Gurglebop
Carol McFadden has holes in her head. But she needs them: She’s got to show off some of her 22,922 pairs of earrings.
McFadden – known, understandably, as the Earring Lady – owns the largest known collection of earrings.
They’re shaped like hearts, medallions, squares, shells, hoops, flowers, numbers, suns, moons and stars. They are made of lottery tickets, laminated magazine clippings, candy bars, refrigerator magnets, POGs, playing cards, postage stamps and badges reading “I (heart) Michael Jackson.”
She has worn each pair at least once, and they’re all on display in her one-story home in Plumer, Pa., 70 miles north of Pittsburgh – lining almost every wall, in display cases and in carousels in two rooms added to the house solely to store the jewelry.
The collection has earned her a place in the Guinness Book of Records and the honor of being part of an answer on Jeopardy! last year – “Gems and Jewelry” for $200, please, Alex.
McFadden’s collection began with a pair of golden bows with rhinestone knots, a gift from her sister when she was 12.
The most unusual pair she has obtained during her 45 years of collecting? “Toilets!” – in turquoise-and-white plastic.
She also likes the light-up earrings she bought in Las Vegas and a pair her sister-in-law gave her: earrings attached to chains that tuck behind the ears to hold on a pair of sunglasses.
McFadden’s poodle, Precious, wears yet another special pair, encrusted with pink rhinestones.
The earring lady finally had her ears pierced only two years ago. Now each ear has a few holes.
McFadden also collects Lego sculptures, glassware, clocks, lamps, horse figurines, dog statues and things with wheat or owls or Indians on them.
She figures her urge to collect things is rooted in her girlhood. She was 12 when the family’s house burned down and destroyed all they owned. Now, she says, “What I get my hands on, I keep.”
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