For the past eight years, Dorinda Otto, 85, has collected and placed hundreds of bowling balls outside her Wellsville home, crafting a collage of colors that have piqued the curiosity of both neighbors and passersby.
“There are quite a few [admirers] that come by — but then they’ve got to back it up,” Otto said of people who have viewed the yard at 308 Olive St., despite her home being on a dead-end street.
Through the years, Otto has amassed her collection of nearly 500 bowling balls through a variety of avenues, she said. Friends have provided her with many of the orbs, she said, but Otto also has purchased hundreds through sales and auctions. Finding bowling balls at the latter locale has proven to be a helpful source when adding to the collection, Otto said, noting that her son, Branden Otto, is an auctioneer.
After obtaining a new ball, Otto then entrusts one of her sons — either Myrick or Branden Otto — to replace cracked or worn balls with less weathered spheres. The collection of balls, which represent much of the color wheel and range from 5 pounds to 16 pounds, lay closely next to one another, outlining Otto’s sidewalk, gardens, driveway and trees.
But why bowling balls?
“I just love the colors,” Otto, who shares no relation to Kansas state Rep. Bill Otto, R-LeRoy, said, adding that she’s still looking to add more bowling balls to the yard. “There are so many different kinds, and they’re so pretty.”
Comprising a large part of the yard, Otto’s outdoor decor doesn’t stop with bowling balls, though the sports equipment is a year-round fixture, she said. Otto currently displays human-like muffler statutes, boat fountains, ceramic birds and wooden flowers. Otto’s yard also features holiday decorations according to the season, she said, adding that it now boasts a life-sized Santa Claus.
Otto, who used to own and operate Otto Turkey Farm with her late husband, Bill Otto, also collects and fashions various other knickknacks. Among the hodgepodge of items includes a collection of tickets to various events, jewelry and also thousands of quilted “yo-yos.” Otto has fashioned the yo-yos, which are small circular patches, into a variety of pieces, including shirts, skirts and even linens and comforters.
Setting her house apart from others in the area, Otto said, is largely what motivates her to find new and unique items to decorate her home and yard.
“I collect just anything that I can find that’s different,” Otto, who now is retired, said. “I don’t want things that everybody’s got.”
Herald photographer Matt Bristow contributed to this story.