Sometimes, you just have to purge stuff. Aside from material objects that have some value (electronics, furniture, multiple crock pots, etc.), you also have to part with old school memorabilia, greeting cards, assorted gifts and passed down knick-knacks. For example, did I really need the 1938 RCA Console Radio pulled from my great-grandmother’s house after she died in 1993 to remember her by? No. Yet it still sits in a storage shed at my parents house waiting for the unfortunate day that I will inherit it yet again and will have to get rid of it for real. My parents don’t share all of my views on purging! I do still have her rocking chair that I sit in daily – right up by the TV.
Out of the boxes of odds and ends I saved over the years, I now have only one tote of high school and college stuff and several photo albums and many of the photos I’ve shared on Facebook. I did recently mention that I had an anti-nostalgia phase several years back where I got rid of tons of old programs, newspaper clippings, movie ticket stubs – you name it, I saved it. There were also 100’s of pages of handwritten journals. I discussed this a bit with my mother last week and I found out that my great-grandfather shared in this passion of writing and even went a step further. He left behind quite a lot of journals with some incredible detail. I looked at some of the surviving journals last week. He wrote down everything and I mean all of it. Not only did he write about the people he worked with (“I fired Harvey today. He disrespected me.”), he also wrote quite a but about the weather (“Cold enough today to start a fire”) and made sure to note every oil change and maintenance on every car he ever had. He went as far as to record this stellar entry in 1938: “Changed the bulb in the kitchen today. Change bulb of same type in living room lamp.”
Exciting stuff, eh? Well, no. And the reason is that most of the journals containing the excitement were burned by joint decision (between my mother and great-grandmother) in 1965 when my great-grandfather died. Apparently, he also wrote a lot in detail about people he did not like and he held nothing back. He also wrote things down that were just “plain embarrassing and there was no point in leaving such things as his legacy”.
Most of my journals fall under the “plain embarrassing and definitely immature” category. I wrote in depth about relationships, work schedules, dumb things that happened at school, and dumb things that happened at work. None of it was really even worth re-reading and none could even be condensed into a decent short story. Maybe you could squeeze out some material for “Freaks and Geeks” but it is cancelled now. So, I decided instead of having my kids piece through it shaking their heads one day, I trashed them all but one on an afternoon several years ago.
I started this one on July 8, 1990 and kept going until September of 1991. Yes, there are some funny and decent times recorded in there in the midst of some really unhappy times. I do like the very 90’s looking cover. I bought this at the Kroger store where I bagged groceries for a summer. The peace sign came from a store called Stone Mountain in Nashville. It was a hippie store with lots of incense and tie-dye. 1990 was the first summer I was old enough to drive and I spent a lot of time exploring the city in my old Chevy Cavalier.
All that is left journal-wise now is this blog since this last surviving hand-written journal is gone as of this morning. The trash containing it has been picked up. I saw no point in leaving it behind one day and I think holding on to it for 20 years is long enough. The only real lesson from re-reading it in the past few weeks is that I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about what other people thought and wasting time on petty odds and ends. I’d rather share with my kids what I’ve learned with the wisdom (hopefully) of all of these years instead of letting 16 and 17 year old me do the talking. He was a bit high strung. He also had funny looking glasses and I believe he watched “Alf”. He disturbs me.
So, sometimes it’s good to let go of the old so you can make room for the new.
Since I began with a Moonglows song, I’ll end with another. I have an album (yes, an actual vinyl record) of the Moonglows that I got at the long gone Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee many years ago. These guys were incredible. They put a lot of what is played today to shame. There was no Pro Tools in 1955 and this was most likely recorded in one take. Turn up the volume and enjoy!