Osgood couple collects over 1000 mugs

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Cleaning out a closet has inspired an Osgood woman to collect more than a thousand coffee mugs of every style and description.
“That’s exactly how it started,” laughed Linda Ritchie, who said close to four years ago as she cleaned a closet she found mugs that her children had brought her from their senior trips. “I thought, ‘no one can see them in this closet, why not set them out’”?
Set them out she did. The kitchen of the Ritchie’s modest farmhouse style home tastefully displays mugs. The mugs proudly hang on specially designed racks that circle the ceiling of the kitchen, three and four rows in depth. They are displayed vertically and horizontally, some in a wooden hutch, many on mug trees, in the smallest nook or cranny, they brighten the walls of the Osgood couple’s home and are great conversation pieces. In the living room, the mug theme continues with a fireman’s pole that reaches from the ceiling to the floor built specifically to display more of the collection.
These mugs tell a story. The life story of a couple who value family and friends. Each mug is documented on the bottom saying who gave it to them. They can at random pick out a mug and tell the story about its origin. Linda’s husband, Merrill, also enjoys the collection.
The mugs are literally from all over the world, many hand delivered after friends and family have traveled.
The Ritchie’s most recent mug is designed with a camel on the front and has flown in two unmanned flights in the Middle East. Their oldest grandson, Christopher Roe, 21, hand delivered the mug recently when he came home from the Airforce. “We were in shock,” noted Linda, as she told how a birthday party was being held for her youngest grandson, Matthew, who turned 3. “I didn’t know anything about Chris coming home.” He knew what she would like and since he was able to do something special with the mug, it meant even more. That homecoming will be memorialized when the Ritchie’s see the mug sitting in their home. “It will bring joy every time we remember the reunion.”
The Ritchie’s are “very proud of every branch of the military.” They truly believe in supporting the troops that are serving now in the war on terror. They have a special section of mugs that honor each branch of the service.
Linda noted that when someone gives her a mug from another country or a place she knows she’ll never go to, it’s like seeing that place through someone else’s eyes.
“This one came from Thailand,” Linda smiled as she held a delicate mug in the shape of an elephant. Her dear friend, and high school English Literature teacher, Pat Hartwell from Moores Hill, brought the item to her. “Now, it’s really not a coffee mug, it’s a teapot because they don’t drink coffee in Thailand,” noted Linda. She keeps the item in her special collection because it represents another country and the love of a friend.
But, Linda does have actual coffee mugs from many countries: Newfoundland, Mexico, Germany, Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland, France, England, Barbados, Italy and the Bahamas to name a few. She has mugs from every state except two - North Dakota and New Jersey. Indiana is represented by Osgood’s sesquicentennial mug that was designed by Ray Smart, a neighbor. It depicts the history of the town complete with a train engine, the Brick Street, Willson Dairy, the high bridge and Damm Theatre.
The mugs are displayed in categories, some of which include, inspirational ones, humorous, college, sports, newspapers (one has a headline from when President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated), holidays, comic characters, company logos, artistic, birthdays, and many other varieties.
There are big ones, little ones, odd shaped and colored ones. The smallest one she has is smaller than a thimble and has Linda’s name on it. A friend of hers, Kathy Cavins, brought her the tiny mug from Arkansas. The largest mug, holds about two gallons, and is decorated with soft butterflies. “It was given to me by a good friend who lived in Greenfield, Francis Pryor,” noted Linda, who says her friend has since passed away.
While the interview was being conducted for this story, a knock came on the door of the Osgood couple’s home. It was Brenda Warren with four mugs. “She’s a big contributor,” laughed the couple. They say Warren has brought them probably three to four hundred. “I just pick them up at yard sales,” noted Warren, who enjoys looking for unique things.
What’s her favorite mug? Well, that was a hard decision, so finally Linda said, “I really have two.” The first one was an inspirational mug that read, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but, the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
When it comes to the end, Linda notes that, “my life is worth it if I can just touch the life of a child.” She treasures that mug. The second mug has significant meaning because it was given to her by her favorite southern gospel music group, Heavenly Reign. Members of the group had a picture taken of the Ritchie’s and themselves. Then they had a transfer of the photo put onto a mug and presented it to them as a surprise. “They are a wonderful bunch,” she noted.
The Ritchies have four children, 16 grandchildren, three great grandchildren and two more on the way. They say their family has been instrumental in helping them gather mugs, they’re always looking for something unique to bring them.
The massive collection expanded from only 400 to over 1000 in just one year. When will they quit collecting them? Linda says she’ll stop when she runs out of room. “You’re getting there,” laughed her husband. The mugs fill the kitchen, have spilled over into the living, utility and bedrooms.
When it comes to mugs...if you can imagine it, the Ritchie’s have it. If they don’t, they would like to!

Linda and Merrill Ritchie pose with fireman's pole filled with mugs.