September 23, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Dolls: The Jessamine Journal: Ukraine RPCV Wini Yunker collects dolls

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: September 23, 2004: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Dolls: The Jessamine Journal: Ukraine RPCV Wini Yunker collects dolls

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Ukraine RPCV Wini Yunker collects dolls

Ukraine RPCV Wini Yunker collects dolls

Ukraine RPCV Wini Yunker collects dolls

Eclectic collection
Published 9/23/04
By Zoya Tereshkova

Wini Yunker got her first doll house when she was 12. All upstairs and downstairs rooms, including a kitchen and two bathrooms, were nicely furnished, and her father, Winfield Mastin, used Christmas lights to wire it for electricity.

Almost six decades later, the lights in the house still come on, and Yunker, an energetic retiree and member of the Peace Corps, enjoys her doll house just like she did when she was a little girl.

Over the years, while living in different states and traveling the world, Yunker expanded her initial set of doll house furniture up to 1,000 pieces. About half of them are on display at the Jessamine County Public Library.

"I'm not very domestic, and I have no interest in house decorating, but I love doll house furniture," she said. "Every piece in my collection has a story. I remember where I got it, the store and people I was with."

There are tables, arm chairs, china cabinets, beds and dressers ranging from wooden and paper Victorian to plastic mid-century American in her collection.

"The oldest one is a living room set made in Europe in the mid-19th century," Yunker said. "There are also several unique Limoges items from France."

No matter how valuable some of the pieces in her collection are, the plastic furniture that came with her doll house is the most special for Yunker, she said.

"When I was moving to Texas at the age 18, I told my mother that my nieces can play with everything else but not my doll house," she said.

Her doll house and all the furniture in it survived and when, after a few years in Texas, Yunker moved to Washington, D.C., to become a hostess for the United Service Organization (USO), she started adding to her collection.

"On Saturdays, I went to antique stores," she said. "It was fun, and things were cheap back then."

When she came back to Nicholasville to stay with her mother after her father died, she found that local antique stores also carried her favorite doll house furniture. She continued expanding her collection. Working full time, getting married and raising a son never distracted her from her passion.

"Doll house furniture is fascinating," she said. "You look at some piece and think of who made it, who played with it. There is so much history in it."

When Yunker traveled in Europe, she always looked for opportunities to buy or just see doll house furniture.

"I've been to England, Scotland, France, Ireland, Mexico, and I always tried to find something for my collection," she said.

After her son, Joe, grew up, Yunker went to college while still working full time. She received her bachelor's degree from Spalding University in Louisville, and then her master's from the University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy. Six years ago, she retired from Sargent & Greenleaf after 18 years, and started her next career as a Peace Corps member.

"I applied immediately after I retired, and they sent me to Ukraine to teach economics to high school kids," she said.

Two years in Ukraine, while being a very intense experience of her life, did not bring much to her collection.

"There were no doll houses in Ukraine," she said. "Ukrainians had a hard time just living."

She could have traveled to different countries in Europe during her two-year stay in Ukraine, which would have added new pieces to her collection, but she decided not to.

"Other Peace Corps members traveled to different countries, but I decided that I would rather see as much as I can in Ukraine and not go anywhere else," she said. "It's the biggest country in Europe, and there's a lot to see there."

While Yunker stayed in Ukraine, her collection was stored in boxes in her attic, like it had been most of the time throughout her life.

"Most of the time my collection is in boxes, and that's the sad part," she said.

Yunker decided to show her collection at the library because she wanted "other people in Nicholasville to look at it."

"Maybe they'll like it as much as I do, and maybe it will remind them of old doll house furniture that's sitting in their attics," she said.

Yunker's collection will be on display at the public library until Sept. 30.

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: The Jessamine Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; Dolls



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