Gotta Keep That and That and That

And I Can’t Get Rid of THAT!

By Jeff Salter

Topic: If you had to get rid of most of your belongings in order to move into a smaller place, what are the things you would not be able to part with?

As others have already said this week, we have a very timely topic. Four of the five of us are within the age range where “down-sizing” is commonplace… perhaps even essential. [Of course, I realize there can be many reasons – some inter-related – (besides age) why a person needs to down-size.]

Funny thing, in my case, is that when I took an early retirement and relocated from LA to KY (2006), we actually moved from a 1400 sq. ft. house (with two-vehicle garage) to a 3000 sq. ft. house (with three-vehicle garage). Not surprisingly, we soon filled up the new place. Yep.

Some of my treasures are seen as clutter by my spouse… just as some of her treasures look a lot like clutter to me.

Yes, we do have a lot of bona fide, indisputable clutter. And yes, much could be discarded, recycled, or donated. But that requires so much time and energy — and I find I really need at least two helpers: one to assist with the lifting and sorting… and one to haul away those items that are going to trash, recycling, or donation centers. One of the biggest obstacles (to me) is to get a really good start at decluttering and find (as that day’s work shift ends) that everything is still here… just in different piles. For this to work – with me – the sorted stuff must be REMOVED by the end of that work shift… or I feel like I didn’t accomplish much besides a different arrangement of the same clutter.

Back to the topic

All that is a build-up to my response to the topic itself.

Here are the categories of items that I’m sure I could greatly reduce:

Old clothing, old footwear, old IRS tax paperwork, and stuff related to hobbies (like golf) that I used to pursue avidly but can no longer enjoy because of physical limitations.

It’s probably partly the librarian in me, but I have a vast collection of CLIPPINGS – on a wide variety of interests – and many of these could simply be recycled. With “everything” available now on the internet, at least half of my clippings could go (if I had time to sort through all those boxes). Of course, I’d keep the articles on UFOs, Loch Ness monster, Area 51, Big Foot, ancient civilizations, Stone Henge, etc. I mean, a person must have priorities!

I could recycle most of my magazines, except (of course) those about WW2.

Possessions

Most important, to me, of physical possessions are my writings, family photos, my books, a sampling of my childhood toys, my tools, and my categories of various “collections”.

With my books, there are perhaps a third that I’d really want to keep, a third that I’d easily part with, and a third that would drive me crazy trying to decide.

With my writings, I think I could finally shred and recycle all those rough drafts that I’ve scrupulously kept for decades (on the hope that my literary biographer would be ecstatic to have so much raw material demonstrating how my creative mind functioned. HA!)

With my family photos and related memorabilia, I could only get rid of actual duplicates and/or multiple poses of the same basic grouping.

With my few childhood toys, the best way to say it is: If they’ve stayed with me ‘til age 71, they’re pretty much “precious” to me still. [That said, I could probably force myself to donate a few odd pieces.] Example: those tiny metal cars that cost a nickel back in 1959 don’t have any real value… but they’re important to me because I bought them at Woolworths on our several trips to New Orleans when I had to go to an eye specialist or a radiology specialist. Just Mom and me.

With my tools, I could only divest myself of the duplicates. For example, I might have 3 or 4 of the same size of the same basic screwdriver. If push came to shove, I could whittle that down to one of each. Maybe. [Note, however, there are many different types of screwdrivers and each has as many as 4 or 5 different sizes.] As another example, I possess well over a dozen different hammers – different sizes, different weights, and different designs – and it would be tough to decide which of those were disposable (and which were essential). I mean you can’t use a rubber mallet to drive in a nail! And you shouldn’t use a 16-oz hammer head to drive a tiny finishing nail.

Now we get to my collectibles

Comic books: I own about 9 or 10 boxes full, many acquired when I was actively purchasing as an “investment” – back when the comic boom began and before the market went bust because so many (like me) had jumped in. Most of those have never been read and I could dispose of them without much agony. But it would be similar to what I said about my books: a third that I’d really want to keep, a third that I’d easily part with, and a third that would drive me crazy trying to decide.

Militaria: Now we get down to brass tacks. Let me preface this part of today’s blog by explaining that in the arena of military merchandise, there were often MULTIPLE manufacturers… and the tendency among serious collectors is to (try to) acquire one item from each different manufacturer and from each different year of the war. Here’s an example: suppose the American military establishment – in order to meet the sudden demand for war materiel – let contacts for Model 1936 canteens with nine different companies and each company put production years on their canteens. To have a complete collection, you’d need 9 companies times 5 war years = 45 different canteens. Well, obviously, that’s excessive. Yet I know of many collectors who strive for that very goal. And not just with canteens. The same situation exists for messkits, bayonets, fighting knives, etc. etc. etc. [BTW, you’ll be pleased to know that I am NOT that fanatical about my collection. First of all, it’s next to impossible to actually achieve that goal. Secondly, it can drive you crazy to be that obsessed with “completeness” in a collection. Thirdly, I don’t have the funds or the space for that many different iterations of the same basic item.]

One of my smaller WW2 displays

The actual genesis of my collection began when I was still a kid, frequenting a local hardware store which also sold “army surplus” stuff. But I really started building that collection in the 1990s after I discovered eBay. My appreciation of military history really came to life when I was able to collect some of the related items. My militaria collection includes things like helmets, uniform pieces, field gear, bayonets, canteens, messkits, and MANY other odds and ends.

I didn’t acquire those items just to possess them, however. Over a period of years, I mounted several displays (in locked cases) in the library facilities where I worked (before retirement) and here in Somerset (after relocation). These displays were typically well-received, by young and old alike.

One of my smaller WW1 displays

Over the course of acquiring a wide variety of items related to WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War, I managed to come up with many duplicates. To use merely one example, note that I possess 21 American M-1 helmets (in addition to several foreign versions). If push came to shove, I guess I could survive by keeping just one from each war period… but helmets currently enjoy a lively market value… and selling those other 16 steel pots takes time, effort, astute business savvy, and a considerable amount of effort and expense for shipping. If you take my helmet example and apply it to canteens, messkits, bayonets, etc., you can see the scope / scale of my problem. For items which have intrinsic historical value AND current market value, one simply cannot just “donate” them or “sell” them for peanuts. I’ve already been selling items here and there, over the past several years, but it’s quite time-consuming. That said, it’s always rewarding in two senses: that irreplaceable historical artifacts have found a new home… and that I have new cash in my pocket as a result. If I remember correctly, one of the military blades I sold last year brought me some $230… so we’re not talking about peanuts here, folks. M-1 helmets that I may have purchased for $3 or $4 each several decades ago, are now getting $30 or $40 each (for the most ordinary ones)… and considerably more, depending on manufacturer and age and condition. Some of the older ones – particularly WW2 production – in good condition can command prices in the hundreds.

I’ve detailed a few examples simply to better explain that one cannot simply walk into the room housing my militaria collection and say, “wow, that’s a lot of old army stuff.” Not only is it irreplaceable – meaning, a finite number of items produced and MANY lost in the fog of war – but some individual pieces can be worth many hundreds of dollars while a similar LOOKING piece might be worth $25. My point? One has to know what one has, how rare it is, and how to evaluate its condition. You can’t just count and say, “oh, there’s three dozen WW2 canteens. Let’s price them at $5 each and put them in a garage sale.” Nope. That would be a travesty.

Questions:

What about YOU? What do you collect, if anything? How precious is it to you (in terms of $$ value or personal connection)? When will you begin to downsize… or have you already done so?

[JLS # 577]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to Gotta Keep That and That and That

  1. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Officially, collect bells. I have two wall cabinets with glass and porcelain bells from all over the world. Hubby collected shot glasses, and they’re in another case. I actually pared down the bell collection by about thirty percent when we moved. I didn’t try to sell them – they just went to the local thrift shop donation center. If I have to downsize again, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t miss either collection. They’re not exactly museum quality, like your militaria.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      As my daughter was growing up, she began collection teddy bears. Over the years, she’d accumulated several dozen… many of which I’d personally selected and purchased as gifts to her. Shortly before she married, she weeded that collection. At the time it stunned me, thinking my DNA had somehow skipped her. LOL But seriously, I think it bothered me more than it bothered her.
      All that said, I guess I’m gratified that she has the ability to divest herself of some of those childhood things. Better that, than having multiple storage lock-ups filled with “treasures”.

      Like

  2. jbrayweber says:

    I’m 51 (ouch, it hurts to say that), but I’ve been methodically getting rid of stuff for several years. Some stuff I hold onto for the purpose of helping my oldest child for when she moves out. But I’m beginning to realize that while it might help her out, she probably won’t want most of it. These days, it seems more convenient to just buy new rather than store things in the limited space that I have. I used to have a garage sale every year or so. Gah…soooo much work. But a couple of years ago, I started selling itmes on the Nextdoor app and Facebook Marketplace. I was surprised by how easy it began. Bonus – I would get what I asked for in price. No haggling and deeply discounting just so I wouldn’t have to box anything back up until the next garage sale. Seriously, I won’t have much downsizing to do when we actually do downbsize.

    I have boxes and boxes of toys. Many of these toys are from my youth. But they are timelesss. Both my girls played with them and I suspect their kids will play with them, too. I plan to keep most of them with me so when I have my grandkids visit, they’ll have “new” and interesting toys to play with.

    As far as collections, while I am NOT someone who likes china and old dishes, I do have a small collection of tea cups and saucers. The only reason why is becasue when my grandmother lived in Japan in the 50s, a porcelain factory was either destroyed or dam,aged badly in a mudslide. My grandmother and many other women, dug throught the mud for items that wasn’t destroyed. She had quite a few matching pieices she gave to her her grnadkids. I have about 10 matching sets. They probably aren’t worth anything at all, and probably won’t mean anything to my kids, but I do like them. Another collection is the dozen or so handmade decorative egg ornaments my grandmother made. I haven’t gotten those out of the box for over 20 years.
    I do have a large collection of skull decor. Haha!

    Wow, I’m chatty this morning. Great post, Jeff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      thanks, Jenn. Wonderful that you’ve been able t hang on to some of those toys of your own childhood… and are able to share them with the new kids in the family. My saga about kid toys — in a scene that’s been repeated a zillion times — is that I returned “home” from either college or basic training and discovered that my dad had hauled most of my “stuff” — and that of my siblings — to the Salvation Army. I guess I haven’t yet gotten over that.
      So when our son’s collection of Star Wars stuff was cluttering up our house — and he was in his middle 30s by then — I made him come and get it. I said, ‘I’m not going to be responsible for dumping it, like my dad did my toys. If it gets dumped, it’ll be your decision.” He kept it in storage for several years and then, sure enough, he had a child and that boy loves Star Wars!
      I love your teacup / saucer collection already and I haven’t even seen it yet. Great history… and I’m sure they are worth a lot more $$ than you may have imagined.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jbrayweber says:

        My husband’s dad threw away all my husband’s toys when he was still relatively young. I want to say he was around 19. Pretty sure my FIL did it out of petty spite. He could’ve asked if he wanted them, but didn’t. The toys were also a bunch of Star Wars stuff. My husband still holds a bit of a grudge over it. I’m sorry that happened to you, too.

        Sorry about all the typos. I was in a rush this morning. Kiddo getting ready for school had a nose bleed while I was typing. Apparently, I don’t have the autocorrect on. Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff Salter says:

          In my case, there was no spite involved. I think it’s when my dad was between jobs and was looking for something to keep himself busy. Cleaning out the attic was evidently what he came up with.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Your books? You’d get rid of some of your books??? How could you? LOLOL I assumed you meant the ones you’ve written. Maybe not. But I could no more get rid of a copy of one of my own books than throw our beloved dog, Susie out the door. They are my babies. Blood (sometimes literal), sweat, and tears (lots of tears) went into the writing of those.

    Through the years, and many, many moves, I’ve lost so many things I wish I hadn’t. Precious things that meant a lot to me. But of what I still have, I cling to. I used to collect sheep. This wasn’t my idea, but when people learned that I loved sheep, I started to acquire a collection of them. I still have several in a display case and on bookshelves along with some items from England I acquired the same way as the sheep, but my real collection is castles. I love castles. Other than that, it’s the books I’ve read. Most of which are autographed. I’ve only given away two of those. Everything else in the house is expendable.

    Every year, Arnie and I collect what we feel we don’t need anymore, and take it to Goodwill. It helps keep the clutter down, and we know others might be able to use what just sits around having dust here.

    Now my office…that’s another story. The collections I have in my office stand for encouragement and accomplishment: the framed article from the North Bend Eagle about my story, Treasure in a Field, set in Nebraska, two framed history pieces on the origin of the Connell name, framed book covers, the orchid lei Arnie had flown in from O’ahu for me for the launch party of my last published novel, Ko’olau’s Secret set on O’ahu, and similar items have a permanent place in my office, along with all my resource books. Downsizing here means getting rid of old papers with notes I made while writing my stories. That’s about it.

    In short, life for us is a constant downsizing effort. But no one had better go near my office. LOLOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      no, not the books I’ve written!
      I meant those boxes and boxes of books I’ve collected all my life. Some in the house, some in the garage and some in storage. If I had the space, time, and add’l help, I’d pull them all out, re-sort them, and bingo — one-third would be at Goodwill.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Got’cha. I probably don’t have as many as a former librarian would have collected. LOLOL But we are out of bookshelf space now. Time to figure out how to create more books shelves in the library. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff Salter says:

          I may have mentioned this before, but before we built here on this hill of Denise’s ancestors, I had vowed that we’d have a room devoted to books — our own library. Alas, in the give and take of budget and design issues, that room got cut from the project. It would truly lift my spirits to be able to SEE all my books. And only then could I weed through them properly.

          Liked by 1 person

          • We don’t have a separate room for our library. It’s in the dining room, which we hardly ever use unless we have company. The fireplace opens in there too (see-through) and everything on the walls is either historical or story related, so it became the dining room/library. We have 3 bookcases, one of them was a china cabinet turned bookcase for our collectable books. The room also holds an antique secretaire (writing desk), my grandmother’s 1800s spinning wheel, and a couple of kimchi pots Arnie brought back from Korea. They all kind of fit with the library idea. LOLOL

            Liked by 1 person

  4. “the sorted stuff must be REMOVED by the end of that work shift… or I feel like I didn’t accomplish much besides a different arrangement of the same clutter.”
    I am much the same way. If it is still in my house once I have gone through it I feel like I accomplished nothing that day and that can be frustrating.
    Your collection is so impressive. I always enjoy seeing photos of your displays.
    I do not officially collect anything. I am in the process of weeding through my possessions simply because I do not like the clutter and I hope to be able to purchase a house soon. All the houses I am looking at are smaller than the one I am in. I’d rather have a smaller house (less to clean) with a large yard than to have a big house. I like that cozy feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      I love spacious lots… and we were lucky growing up to live with plenty of green space all around. Where we lived for 26 years was a tiny 60-ft-wide lot X 110 deep. Front lawn was a postage stamp and back yard not much bigger.
      Here, we have an acre of lawn and 5 acres of field, plus the woods, the upper meadow, and the other section of woods.

      Like

  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    It just makes me tired to even think about it. It’s so hard to decide what to keep and what to let go of.

    Liked by 1 person

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