A home full of treasures and stories: Meet Dickinson's eclectic collector Jackie Hope

Apr. 27—DICKINSON — For Dickinson's Jackie Hope, the difference between clutter and character is a thin line that she's managed to balance with precision. Her home is a vibrant and eclectic collection of treasures, each with its own story, that reflects her own combination of personality. From antique dish sets to Converse All Stars — to Hope, every item in her collection is a piece of art.

Since she was a child, Jackie Hope has been a collector at heart. Her love for collecting tangible treasures like inherited items, thrift store finds, and gifts from friends and family, is only matched by her thirst for knowledge

"I love eclectic," Hope said, " I understand minimalism... the idea, and it looks neat, but it's not me."

Throughout her life, she's pursued diverse fields of study, earning a Master's in Clinical Psychology, studying music and art, and even delving into community journalism. But her love for collecting remains a constant, and her Dickinson home is a testament to her passion for both physical and intellectual treasures.

Hope's childhood was spent in Galesburg, Illinois. Despite the small town's population, it like Hope, has an eclectic history. Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States grew up in Galesburg, and the town played host to the fifth Lincoln-Douglas presidential debate. It was a town fit for a young Hope, who would leave her hometown for southwest North Dakota when her parents moved in the late 1970s amid the first oil boom.

"I've been here ever since," Hope quipped.

As a kid, while others spent time riding bikes or playing tag, Hope was determined to fill all the holes in her penny book with each year's pennies, and thus her collecting hobby was born. From there, Hope moved on to stamps, which turned into books, a neatly coded and cataloged collection she estimates to be around 2,500, then came dish sets, gnomes, Converse All Stars, and all kinds of zany things in between.

For Hope collecting may have just been her destiny as she comes from a long line of collectors. Both her mother and grandmother collected antiques oftentimes from auctions, and as an only child, Hope followed suit in accumulating two generations' worth of treasures.

"I think I grew up and we called it almost pawnshop chic because everything that you touched was either an antique or a collectible, and I just got used to it," Hope shared of her memories of childhood.

Nonetheless, Hope considers this passion an art rather than a hobby, but she certainly does not define herself as a hoarder.

"I'm not a hoarder because I keep everything dusted," Hope laughed.

While many people simply see an item or merely a piece of furniture, Hope sees a story.

Hope said that she and her husband often wonder, like many collectors, who had their treasures before them, what places have they been and what stories they could tell.

"My husband will pick up maybe an antique that I brought or a collectible from a thrift shop and he'll say 'I wonder what's the history of this? Did this sit on somebody's family table?'" Hope said.

Hope can recall the story behind many of the items that make up her eclectic style home, pieces from friends who owned thrift stores and lovely floral lamps from former art teachers. Perhaps her sharp recall is attributed to her Edetic memory which she is the third generation in her family to have.

"It's not literally a photograph, right? I couldn't remember a phone number to save me but I can remember my friend's pets names from when I was a child," Hope said.

This skill in combination with sitting and observing is often times how her column Hopes Corner, the longest standing column in The Dickinson Press standing five years strong, comes together.

"You can pull a lot of odds and ends together and put them down and connect the facts," Hope said.

Hope said oftentimes she just likes to sit quietly and people-watch, she likes to listen and observe things and tries to figure them out.

"You learn more by keeping your mouth shut and your ears open," Hope said.

Her biggest appeal in it all is simply just her fascination with learning she said.

"Learning. I never really stopped going to college so I guess it's learning, in whatever form," Hope explained.

As for now, Hope is pursuing a degree in Theater from Dickinson State University and also participates in a theater group called Cat Wranglers Productions where she does everything from acting to playing music in the background.

When she isn't busy doing that, she takes care of her other two collections — rescuing animals and raising plants.

Her animals include a bunny named Maxine whom her husband found loose on the streets and Gary the guinea pig who was surrendered at a pet shop but found a home in the Hopes.

The plants are typically rescued from Walmart shelves by Hope when they look droopy or friends who lack her green thumb pass them onto her.

"If someone has something they don't want, I take it," Hope said.

Hope has a Norfolk Pine that has been with the family since 1978, a true testament to the amount of care Hope puts into everything she does no matter the size.