PROSPERITY – Marie Phillips can’t explain her passion for garden gnomes other than to say she thinks they’re cute.

Over the years, she accumulated more than a dozen of the statues of dwarfish ugly old men with pointed hats and was about to throw them away because they had become so weathered.

“It was something I started years ago,” said Phillips, of Prosperity.

And then, her son, Stacy, stepped in and repainted the garden ornaments and created a tiny village for them in her backyard. It was an expression of love that was delivered on her 90th birthday Nov. 17.

“All of my kids are good to me,” said the mother of three children.

“Everyone seems to like it,” she said, referring to the village that features a tiny house with a round door similar to where Hobbits make their homes in J.R.R. Tolkein’s 1937 novel “The Hobbit.”

Phipps said she didn’t know until recently that there is a legend that gnomes protect underground treasures and are known to be mischievous.

Her treasure is situated a short distance from her kitchen table where she can see it through a large window.

Staff Writer

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley.

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