I am a pack rat. A hoarder of sorts if you will. There, I said it. It is out. Everyone knows that I have a problem throwing things away. However, before you pass judgement on me for holding on to things from my past give me a chance to argue my case. I save, or hoard for you purists, only special things. They are things that revive my memory that would otherwise fade.
It started many years ago. Actually I think it started with books. I have the hardest time letting go of a book from my grasp. I have no idea how many books I currently have in my house but there are a lot of them. The first book I remember getting and reading was a Christmas present from my mom and dad. It was a children's novel that told the story of a kid trying to get on a basketball team only he isn't quite good enough. It tells of one summer when he worked non stop on basketball, practicing everyday targeting in on his jump shot until it was as smooth as glass. When he returned to school the next fall, the coaches and the other players that had made fun of him for even trying out for the team the previous year were astounded at the change in his game. He made the team, wins the big game with a last second shot ... la-de-da la-de-da .. typical feel good ending as too many books tag on at the end.
Another book I held onto for years was one that was kept in my grandmother's house. It was an old copy of the original story of Pinocchio. On the inside of that book was a little very basic rough writing that said simply "Danny Hill". It was my uncles book when he was little. I have always assumed it was a book from when he was sick and quarantined within the house. That book traveled with me as I grew up and got married and moved to an apartment and onto the house. That was one book I was able to let go of, though it wasn't easy. My uncle was in town one time and I decided to return the book back to it's proper owner. I gave it to my uncle and he was absolutely thrilled. He gave it back to me eventually when he moved back to Kansas City and it was placed back into my collection.
Over the years the collection of books continued to grow. Most of them were paperback and the majority of them dealt with history. The collection also grew as Christmas brought books to me once in a while. The collection has finally reached a point where it has to stop and I have stopped collecting books for the most part. When my uncle died, he left me his entire book collection which has moved into my house. No more room for books. Maxed out.
After the book collection was well established, I began collecting music. It started innocently enough with cheap 45 RPM records but soon I was shelling it out for full albums. The record collection grew faster than the book collection had. I was discovering new music by the week and was immersing myself in the sounds that would become the soundtrack of my life. Every record that I bought marks a place in time for me and brings back a memory from my past that otherwise would be forgotten. Led Zeppelin's fourth album brings the memory of a party at one of my girlfriend's friends house. The Rare Earth In Concert Album brings back the memory of laying down a back patio at Scott's house. Three Dog Night's Naturally album is marked by one song. The album is full of great songs but this album contained Three Dog Night's biggest hit, "JOY TO THE WORLD". That song for some reason pushed a button inside of my mothers head and would send her into spin that was reminiscent of the cartoon Tasmanian Devil going in any undefined direction, or so it seemed. One thing was for sure and that was that the song did get a reaction from mom, and so I played it often if only for the show. Later I learned how to play that song on the piano which gave me another avenue to get a reaction from her. Like my books, I was able to let go of one album and like the book, it wasn't easy to get rid of but it was the right thing to do. When my niece Kelly was a little girl she was up in my bedroom with me and The Best Of Bread was on my stereo. She took the tone arm and laid down a scratch on the record that was visible and popped everytime I played the record after that. I finally let go of that album and gave it to Kelly so the memory would stay with her from that day. There is no way I am going to forget it after all these years now so it is the right thing that Kelly has it.
The album collection continued to grow and has now turned into a CD collection and moving into an MP3 collection. Each one of them holds a memory from my life that lives inside the music.
The book and music collections are important and are a big part of my life, but they do not qualify as the most sacred of my collections. In my basement tucked away against the wall close to the corner is a large cardboard box. In this box is a collection of various items that truly do define the first thirty years of my life. I haven't added anything to the box for a very long time as it is close to getting full, but what is in there is a treasure.
There are school projects in that box ranging all the way from probably third grade to graduation. I can look at those projects and remember the time when it was done and the teacher's reaction to it as well as the letter grade that it received. There are magazines from numerous historical times. There is a little plastic record in that box that holds the recording of Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the moon. There are newspapers dealing with President Nixon and Watergate on through to the day President Ford was sworn into office. The newspaper that came out the day after the Kansas City Chiefs won the fourth Super Bowl resides in that box.
I do not get into the box very often. It sits in the basement waiting to be discovered by some generation in the future. When I pass on, there will be some people going through my stuff. I know this. As they are going through my stuff, someone is going to stumble on this old box that seems mysterious. There are no markings on the box to give a clue as to what is inside. It is just a simple plain box sitting off by itself not bringing attention to itself. As they are going through stuff and finding things that make them ask "WHY??" one of their eyes will fall on the unassuming box and their hands will reach out to it and pull it towards them. Then slowly the flaps on top of the box will slowly open and then eyes will widen and a smile will come across a face as an expression of surprise emits from the mouth of the one lucky enough to have opened it.
They will all sit around on the floor together slowly and carefully pulling one thing after another out of the box and discuss it among themselves. It will be a gold mine and that box will eventually go home with somebody and my memories, my most important memories will be passed on to a new generation and they will cherish the collection.
The collection will not only be a memory of history passed down, but a history of myself passed down as well.