When Lucille Bromberek completed her 28-day stint in rehab in the 1970s, her counselor offered some sound advice.
“He said, ‘I would suggest you travel or collect something,” said Bromberek, now a recovered alcoholic.
She told the counselor she had traveled enough.
“I asked him, ‘What would I collect?’” she said. “And he said, ‘You will know within a year.’”
Three weeks later, Bromberek awoke one night with the idea she should collect cookie jars.
“I thought, ‘Well, that’s different,’” she said.
So in 1975, at age 50, Bromberek began collecting cookie jars with a vengeance.
“I went gung-ho,” she said. “I went all over the states collecting them, at yard sales and antique shops.”
Once people learned of her collection, she even received them as gifts and donations.
By 1979, she opened up the Cookie Jar Museum in Lemont, at 111 Stephen St., with more than 2,000 cookie jars in every shape and size.
She was courted by TV personalities Jay Leno, David Letterman and Oprah to come on their shows, but declined.
“I had satisfaction in knowing that I could have done it,” she said.
She closed the museum in October after nearly 30 years.
“I was tired,” she said. “But I met some interesting and exciting people. It was a great life.”
Bromberek lined the 21 steps leading up to the museum with a clown cookie jar. One day, a lady came to the museum and purchased a cookie jar with a monk on it that said, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ “This woman bought the monk, and on the way down she stole one of the clowns,” Bromberek said. “I thought, ‘If that don’t beat all.’”
“I give God all the praise and glory,” Bromberek said of her success with the Cookie Jar Museum. “Without him it would never have happened.”
“If you don’t know what to buy somebody for a gift, you’ll never go wrong buying them a cookie jar,” Bromberek said.
COOKIE JAR Chef cookie jar given to her by her husband for their first wedding anniversary
COOKIES Peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip
INTERESTS Getting together with neighbors