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Music box memories

The gold baby grand piano music box that Glennis Moon's late husband Gary Moon gave her plays "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone. 1 / 2
Glennis Moon's favorite music box will be displayed at the Blackduck Area History and Art Center through the month of December. 2 / 2

Glennis Moon wanted to get something special for her mother's birthday.

She found that something in a light blue music box, which doubled as a powder box.

"One time when I was little I was going to put some powder on because it smelled good and it spilled everywhere," Moon recalls, "I had to really scramble to get it back in there."

Moon was 9-years-old when she gave her mother the music box, a gesture that sparked a lifelong affinity for the items. 

Moon now has about 130 music boxes, including that one she gave her mother, and for the first time, they will be outside her home as she displays them at the Blackduck History and Art Center. More than 35 of her holiday and winter music boxes will be placed in displays for visitors to view.

"This is the first time I've really displayed them in a place like this," Moon said.

Memories from all aspects of her life play through these tiny trinkets, including one from her late husband Gary Moon, who will have passed away five years ago in January.

Gary gave her a gold miniature grand piano music box that plays "You Light Up My Life" by Debbie Boone.

"It was so unlike him to do those things, so that was nice," Moon said. "He was a music lover."

Last fall, Moon went on a cruise with her two sisters and stopped in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria and Germany, purchasing a music box in each country.

She collects her boxes in a variety of ways. Friends and family have gifted them, and she also hunts them down at flea markets, gift shops and antique stores.

Moon's favorite music box actually broke several years ago; she has just recently repaired it.

It features porcelain street singers from the Victorian period with gold trim to their outfits stand atop a wooden platform that plays soft tunes.

Of her favorites, this is the only one that will be on display at the History and Art Center from through December.

Her "first car" is also a memory that derives from music boxes. Her father brought her home a car-shaped music box around her sixteenth birthday.

"It's an old Model A, so that's kind of meaningful," Moon said. "That was my first car."

Marked by yet another music box is her retirement. Moon said when she retired in 1994 from a bank in the Twin Cities, typically, employers would give a gift valued between $400 to $500.

"People usually got like a TV or something," Moon said.

However, Moon was on her way home from work when she saw a shop with a large carousel. It was another music box designed from the Victorian Age.

"When it came time to retire, I said 'OK, for my gift I want that,' and they gave it to me," Moon said.

After retiring, she and Gary returned to their hometown of Blackduck.

Memories from childhood to those of her husband to retirement are all kept inside the tunes of the boxes. Besides the ones sprinkled about in her home, they each have a space in a curio cabinet.

Other than music boxes, Moon collects nutcrackers, snow babies, snowmen and Santa Clauses.

"I am a collector," Moon said, "I'll keep looking for them."

Jillian Gandsey

Jillian Gandsey is the Multimedia Editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is an Iron Range native and a 2013 graduate of Bemidji State University. Follow Jillian on Twitter and Instagram @jilliangandsey. Contact her at 218-333-9786, 218-996-1216 or at 

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