Monday, May 29, 2006

I like old stuff
A few weeks ago, my parents and I took a roadtrip to visit my Mamaw. She decided it was time to go through the stuff in her house. So, we went to help her clear out some stuff and get organized.

Here we are.

This trip was actually a lot of fun for me. Well, maybe not so much the part where I got to climb around in her attic with the spiders and endless boxes and bags of Christmas decorations that I'd never seen before...

But, it was fun to see and touch our family history. And funny to watch my Mamaw try to come up with a reason why she keeps all the random knick-knacks we sorted through.
I'm telling you, BOXES and BOXES of stuff she didn't know she had.

A few things are really memorable. Mamaw keeps an envelope of all the notes and cards each of her grandkids have sent her over the years. I don't think she had all of them, but she still had quite a lot of them. My sister's envelope was the biggest. She was great about writing notes and sending drawings and stickers. All of her stuff was VERY decorated and much of it made very little sense. But, to my sister when she was a kid, I'm sure it all made perfect sense and was something very important that she needed to communicate to my grandparents.

My envelope was a decent size, but with MUCH fewer notes than my sister. An obvious testament to who the people person was in the family. All of my notes were meticulously printed out, with the exception of a few notes in cursive. Obviously practicing the fine skill of perfect cursive writing.

I sat with my Mom and Mamaw and read through the notes. They are HILARIOUS. I started almost all of them with the flat statement "I want to tell you this." And then I go on to state something very matter of factly - whether it was the big news of the day, or what I want for Christmas, or whatever. No stickers. No drawings. Nothing fancy. All very brief. Not sure when I learned the art of LONGWINDED writing, but it certainly wasn't during my elementary school years.

Apparently 1982 through 1985 were big years for losing my teeth. I sent a note to my grandparents for every big tooth-losing event. One of the notes ends with "My daddy is the toothfairy, but he says he isn't." Nothing gets by me! Sorry, dad. I knew all along...


Then there was a dry spell of notes from me until, um, just a few years ago. My Mamaw loves notes from her grandkids. I need to send more notes. I know I'll get them all back one day, but they make her happy now.

I also uncovered what may be my earliest recorded poem. But, I'll save that for another time.


We went through boxes and bookcases and closets and cabinets. Pretty much every little thing in the house. My Mamaw would tell stories about all of it. It was a nice walk through family memories.

Plus, I came home with some pretty sweet stuff. Like I said, I like old stuff. Preferably old stuff with meaning. One really cool thing about my house is that a lot of my stuff is family stuff, and that means it has a story.

Of course, my Mamaw knows I like old stuff. So, it was tough to not come home with everything that was old, just because it is "old". She would come out of the back of a closet with some old piece of junk, just to ask if I wanted it because it's old.

It's important to clarify. I like old stuff that is good stuff. Don't dump your junk on me.

Among the coolest stuff I brought home are some of the toys that all of the grandkids used to play with. I remember playing with this stuff. My Papaw used to build stuff in his woodshop - furniture, toys, stuff. He also had a friend who made some toys for us. I found some of them in the attic. One is a red barn. It still had all of the animals and pieces.

I brought home a couple of wooden puzzles that my Papaw made. One of them took me awhile to put back together when it fell out of it's rubber band that was holding it together. My Papaw was one smart dude.

A couple of items are now lawn decorations in my backyard. One is the baby buggy my mom rode in as a baby. It doesn't have the basket part, so really it's just the wheely part. But, now it's a flower holder thingy on my patio.

The other is the first watering can my Mamaw bought when she and my Papaw had their first house with a yard. I planted Brown-eyed Susans in it, also now on my patio.

I scored one of my Papaw's watches, some of his achievement pins from when he was in highschool, and the stone from his Masonic ring (which I may use to write a novel about a code and Da Vinci or something).

I also ended up with a few of my Papaw's pocket knives. I'm not exactly sure why, but I've been really fascinated with these. It just kinda personifies my Papaw. He never went anywhere without this one specific pocket knife and a tiny wrench in his pocket. I have both of those. Plus a larger knife. And then, there was this knife:

It surprised me to see it sitting in a box full of his pocket knives. I'd never seen it before. Neither my mom nor my Mamaw can remember him having it or ever using it. The knives he used were Old Timer brand knives - good, America knives. A Swiss Army knife is out of character for him.

The knife is used, so it would seem he did used it at some point. I've cleaned it up. I've also contacted Swiss Army to see why my name is on it. They say the only way an official Swiss Army knife can be personalized is through a company ordering personalized gifts for employees. Not sure I buy that, but whatever.

My Papaw had Parkinsons for several years, and he's been gone for about 7 years. So, the knife has been around for quite awhile. I don't know how he came by a knife with my name on it, or why he never gave it to me. But, it's pretty cool to have it now.

Otherwise, I ended up with some sweet old books, the world's largest and oldest dictionary (apparently there used to be more words in the English language and we have since decided we don't need that many anymore - but I intend to use ALL of them for Scrabble), some sweet thermoses, some old flashlights (that still work - they are probably 50 years old) from the paper mill where my Papaw worked, the meat grinder my Mamaw's mother used in her kitchen, the wooden paddles from my Papaw's fishing boat, and some other random stuff.

I like bringing home pieces of family to my home. Makes my home feel more like home.

And shoot, who couldn't use a few good pocket knives? For bear hunting and whatnot.


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