My younger brother used to be obsessed with collecting rocks, specifically gravel from our driveway. He treasured his rocks, even going so far as hiding them in old whipped topping containers so that his pesky sister wouldn't steal them. But his collection of crushed limestone doesn’t hold a candle to Ruth Rasmussen's amazing assortment of 16,000 salt and pepper shakers. Ruth, now age 93, proudly displays her collection in the Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery. Since opening in April 2011, the Gallery welcomes nearly 1,000 visitors each year.
Ruth purchased her first pair of shakers as a souvenir from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in 1946 and unknowingly started her collection of the obligatory family table centerpiece.
Years of collecting developed into a vast assortment of shakers of every shape and kind imaginable: pre-WWll, dogs, kittens, chickens, fruits, vegetables, international figurines and naughty shakers. Ruth's favorite is a multi-piece set of cats in an orchestra. In Ruth’s quest to collect, she befriended many other shaker enthusiasts from countries across the world, including Bermuda and nearby Canada, who have traded or given her shakers.
Located northeast of Marshalltown in the quaint community of Traer, the Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery is worth the trip. On the way, enjoy the picturesque landscape of rural Tama County. The Gallery is open March 1-November 30.