Clyde: What to do with all that stuff?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Chill airs and wintry winds!  My ear

Has grown familiar with your song;

I hear it in the opening year —

I listen, and it cheers me along.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

By Clyde

While stuck inside, confined with COVID or copious snow, there is only one thing left to do: clean out your drawers.

But who decides what to keep and what to toss? By what criteria? If you haven’t used it in five years, get rid of it, they say.

Keep the coins, no matter their intrinsic value, you can always spend them. Put the Waterman Sterling pen on eBay, Jeff. One man’s trash could be a collector’s fondest wish. Give things to your children, whether they want it or not. “But even the very hairs of your head are numbered. You are of more value than many sparrows,” says Luke 12:7.

If your house begins to look like “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop,” it’s OK. These are the things you cherish and love and worked for. There is a difference between hoarders and keepers or, as we were quick to label, packrats. It all started with “clean your room” and you crammed it all under your bed. How much is too much?

Mr. Carlin’s routine says get a bigger house to put more stuff in. Stuff, an old Middle English word from “stoffe” comes from broken worthless fibers of flax or hemp before spinning. Don’t throw it away, you might need it.  

Caleb, the trash guru, says of the 300 million tons of garbage per year, 32% is recycled. That’s optimistic for all these collectors and auction hounds. “But the upright shall have good things in possession,” says Proverbs 28:10.

Imagine taking inventory at O.O. Rufty’s. The early days downtown found V. Wallace & Son at 126 and 129 South Main. He had to build an annex on East Fisher to house more goods. You can still see the sign on the side across from Santos.

Going “to town” once a week or so was quite a treat. Dollar General brings it out half way to you and DoorDash puts it on your doorstep. Who can refuse?

We bought what we needed and what we didn’t need but wanted. Everything else became junk and we threw it in the gully along with dead cats. Spelled by some as “junque,” defined as foolish objects, refuse or tow, which is worthless rope on a ship.

All modern homes have what we call “the junk room.” Admit it. Did God say downsize or scale down? It might be the very thing you need and where is it now? Try throwing a tryout test of truly trivial trifles tastefully tucked and trapped in two trousseau trunks thrust towards the train trestle tracks. You’ll want it back.

It’s when they tell you it’s a keepsake or even call it “precious moments!” Where are all those Beanie Babies we would kill to have? What makes it collectable? Stamps and autographs must be boring. McCoy and Watt pottery, Hoddah wall art, depression or carnival glass from the penny pitch at the county fair is out. Hot Wheels are still hot. Cabbage Patch Kids, Hummels, Fostoria, Hallmark ornaments, Sarah Coventry.

You picked out your silver and china pattern at the bridal registry. Tom Clark gnomes, Thomas Kincaid, Clyde art (still available, shameless plug), No. 13 mason jars, the Fuller Brush man and Avon brought what you needed to your door. Who could resist? Here it is!

So, pestiferous persons of humanity, go find something to collect to put in all those empty drawers. Buttons, thimbles, silver dollars, arrow heads, gems, old maps, Spenser bottles, fishing hooks and lures, clocks and watches, old photos, car tags, dust covered books, old Bibles (keep the faith) or invent a new fad, the rarer the better.

There also are 27,000 pieces of space junk waiting to fall in your backyard.

Yankees wouldn’t be caught dead collecting Civil War artifacts. Security alarms were invented just for folks like you. If you don’t have room, just visit a local museum and see the good stuff. What does Evan, the curator of stuff, decide to keep and exhibit? Where are all the things they have but don’t show you? The state museum keeps our flag that flew over the Salisbury Prison. What do you learn from “period” rooms at the Utzman-Chambers House?  

What do you put in museums of the future about now? Keep on keeping on. If you must, just close your messy drawers and don’t look down. Put out the trash, just please don’t throw away the good stuff!

Clyde lives in Salisbury.

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