MECHANIC FALLS – They were at a roofing convention in New Orleans when she saw him in a gift shop window.

Talk, dark, homely.

Chris Smith says it didn’t take much of a nudge from her late husband, David, to buy him and ship him home. At 3-feet-tall, a long nose almost past his toes and a wild ring of gray hair, he was perfect for their troll collection.

She and David started traveling in 1978, about the time their five children were grown. Not long after, they bought their first troll in a Norwegian line called Ny Form.

“Most people think they’re so odd they’re cute,” she said. “They’re supposed to be good luck.”

A few of the trolls have two or three heads. They all have tails that end in tufts of hair. Lots of them have beards, mustaches and old wizened looks, and hold walking sticks. Made of a very hard rubber, they come in all shapes and sizes.

“They’re rare, so you see them in odd places,” Smith said. She remembers finding five once in New York. “They were in amongst furniture in a furniture store.”

They picked up trolls in Germany and all over the U.S. She’s got a soap and water routine to keep them tidy.

“When I vacuum and dust them, I take the vacuum to their hair,” she said. “It’ll suck it and leave it in all different ways and that’s how I leave it. … Every time when I take it down to clean, I feel some kind of connection.”

The trolls are attached to good memories and remind her of David, who she lost four years ago after more than 40 years of marriage.

Kids who visit the house are drawn to the 3-foot troll, she said. Well, most of the time.

After they bought him in New Orleans, they shipped him back to Maine, where their son and his family were house-sitting for them. Their son unpacked him and a short time later their granddaughter, only 3 at the time, got out of her bath and, still wet, went in search of her dad.

The troll caught her by surprise.

“She slid right up to him and started screaming and ran away,” Smith said. It was bigger than she was.

That granddaughter is a senior in high school now. The family still likes telling her the story.

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