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Among My Souvenirs

Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2008, at 6:27 AM

At my home I have a two-car garage, which I keep locked at all times. It's not that I am afraid someone will steal something, but I shudder every time a friend or neighbor comes close to this accumulation of debris. The whole place is an accident waiting to happen, and I don't want some friend to be crippled, if or when this pile of junk decides to swarm.

You see, I just don't seem to have the ability to determine whether a piece of rope is too short to use or too long to throw away, so, I don't take any chances, and for the past forty years I haven't had the courage to dispose of anything that might come in handy some day. It's been twenty years since I have had my car or truck in this garage, and if someone should give me a bicycle today, I would have to leave it set out in the weather.

When the motor burned out of my lawnmower about ten years ago, I knew it was beyond repair, so I went out and bought a new one. I thought I might be able to use the wheels or something off the old mower, so I pushed it back to one side of the garage on a pile of scrap lumber and small pieces of plywood which I had saved, thinking that I may want to build a bench, a table or maybe a dog house, if I ever get a dog. This pile of lumber seems to get larger every time I dig through it, and I have to climb over it every time I need something from the shelves along that side of the wall.

There are some valuable items on these shelves, like a half dozen empty plastic jugs, which will be just what I need if I decide to make some apple cider. Also on these shelves there are at least a dozen cans and buckets of paint, most of which are half empty, or half full, depending on whether you are a pessimist or an optimist. I am sure that some of the paint in these cans is dried out, but I can't know which ones, until I open them, and I don't want to open any of them until I need to paint something. There are about a half dozen large coffee cans full of nails which have gotten so mixed up that there are all sizes of nails in every can. When I start to build something, I spend most of my time looking for the proper size nail, and finally wind up going to the store and buying more nails, and whatever I have left over will be added to the mixture in the coffee cans.

On these shelves there are four pump-up garden sprayers. One of them still works, and I am keeping the other three for spare parts. About ten years ago I brought a bunch of gourds in from the farm. The long neck ones I intend to use to make the old time gourd dipper, and the bottle gourds will make good bird houses. I may be able to get started on this project this winter if it doesn't get too cold. There are six lawn chairs hanging on hooks from the ceiling. The frames of these chairs are in good condition, but three of them need new webbing.

Along the other wall there is a table where I pile an assortment of things, like my fishing rods and tackle boxes, and a 10-inch, black and white TV, which I used in my camper trailer before color was available. There is a case of Pepsi bottles, which I am keeping because they don't put Pepsi in bottles anymore, and I am sure that I can sell these for a hunk of money when they become a collector's item. Then there is a bucket of sea-shells which the wife and I picked up on Sanibel Island in Southern Florida in 1974, a bucket of sand from White Sands New Mexico, and beautiful stones from several of the Western States. I really don't know what all is on and under this table, because I haven't been to the bottom of the pile for quite some time.

Just a few weeks back, the city had a special "Clean-Up" day, and I decided that this was the time for me to get rid of some of this junk. On the day before the pickup date, I spent about six hours going through this pile of junk, and I must have carried a pick-up truck load out to the alley back of my house.

That night I seemed to be having some difficulty going to sleep. I kept thinking about the trash pickup man. I knew he would be by early in the morning and haul away all the valuable stuff I had carried out. That old charcoal barbecue grill did have a few holes in the bottom where the charcoal was inclined to fall through, but otherwise it was all right. That piece of canvas from the awning of my camper trailer that was damaged during a wind storm, just might come in handy to cover plants in the early spring to keep them from getting frost-bit. The two electric motors were burned out and would not run, but they did have a lot of good copper wire in them, and that old coffee table was broke down in the middle, but it still had four good legs, which I could use when I get ready to build that table.

It must have been nearly midnight, but since I really wasn't sleepy, I crawled out of bed, still in my pajamas, I put on my house-slippers and went out to this assortments of mementos. I didn't want to disturb my neighbors, so I didn't take any light, and tried to be as quite as possible, and working by the light of the moon, I carried most of these valuable items back in the garage.

I really didn't get rid of very much in this purging process, but the ordeal caused me to make a decision, and I solemnly swear, on a stack of old Zane Grey novels that I will not bring another item into my garage without casting out some other item of equal size. I will put this plan into effect immediately, starting tomorrow, ---- or at least by next week. --- Well, if I don't get started then, I will at least give it first priority on my list of New Year's resolutions.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Check the lawn mower, there may be 1/2 gallon of gas you could salvage. Have you tried finding webbing for lawn chairs anymore?? Good luck. Thanks for the memories, we all have parts of your treasures.

-- Posted by changedname on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 6:56 AM

Mr. Corbin, you sound like my mom! I say that unless it's something you use regularly or unless it has a great sentimental value, give it to Goodwill so that someone who acutally needs it and will use it can have it. They're just things!

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 8:44 AM

Just THINGS???? Youngest Child, your mother didn't raise you to say horrible things like that. That stuff is good junk. Why, I myself have a similar collection - not as extensive as Mr. Corbin's, I'm sure, but I haven't been around quite as long as he has. Give me time.

I've been hoping my favorite neice would come help me organize my house, but now that I think about it, she probably wouldn't appreciate my good junk either. I do have a huge stack in the basement ready for the garage sale I was going to have this Spring which will now have to be this Fall.

Thanks for the chuckles, Mr. Corbin.

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 12:16 PM

Hahaha! Can't you just see Paul Corbin out there at night, recovering all his good JUNK by moonlight??? Good thing a neighbor didn't shoot you for a CAT BURGLAR....!!

Yeah, I know -- who would steal a CAT, right??? Did you ever think that maybe cat burglars actually DROP CATS OFF in the middle of the night??

Anyway, don't listen to Youngest Child! She has no idea of the value of your junk!!! I would come help you get rid of it, but I'm sure I would find it so fascinating that I'd bring it back home with me! Then, your problem would become my problem!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 1:41 PM

Great story,as usual. I hope whomever you have selected to be the uhmm,"beneficiary" of your estate souvenirs appreciates them too.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 5:28 PM

Paul, I'm glad to see you live by the 'Golden Rule of Stuff' -- If something might be useful save it, and since most everything might be useful, save everything. Youngest apparently hasn't yet learned that inviolate rule of life, but I trust that she will see the light some day.

Paul, I saw that a wildfire near Boise burned sagebrush that revealed part of the Oregon Trail for the first time in perhaps more than a century. They were apparently recognized as wagon tracks from satellite photos. See the story, http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gIgik...

-- Posted by FJGuy on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 7:14 PM

This link about the new find of the Oregon Trail was an interesting story. I am sure that I missed this particular section through Idaho, as I spent three weeks along this train in 1993.

I do howeverhav a few pictures of the ruts, and cuts of this trail. In some places these cuts were up to 4 feet deep, and in one place I found a roadbed cut about 4 inches deep in soft limestone.

If I could call back a few years I would probably be out there helpong to investigate this newly found section of the Oregon Trail

-- Posted by paulcorbin on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 8:02 PM

"Whomever...."! Ahhhhh, YR, you warm the heart of a decrepit old English teacher! Always did.

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Sep 5, 2008, at 7:00 AM

Isn't satellite imagery just the coolest thing? They've found old trade routes under the Saraha Desert using satellites. Small wonder they found part of the Oregon Trail. Thanks for the site fjguy.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Sep 8, 2008, at 7:09 PM


-- Posted by goat lady on Thu, Sep 11, 2008, at 9:56 PM

I just got to read this article,I move alot of people all over the USA and let me tell you that they all have thier fair share of these kinds of memories.They all tell me that every time they move that it"s like Christmas. They find things that they just had to save just in case they might find something to use them for. Usually there is a story to go with each of those odd and end pieces. I am a pack rat also. My family says that if I can think of a use for something I"ll also hang on to it until I might get around to use it. I know that if I get rid of it today that someone will need it tomorrow or next year. Collect on my friend and someday we"ll all get together and see if our odd parts will match each others.Maybe among all of us we might have the parts to put together something amazing.

-- Posted by us traveler on Tue, Nov 18, 2008, at 8:55 PM

I enjoyed your story. My philosophy is much the same as yours. My parents saved everything, as well as the box it came in. Their basement is full of many empty boxes, probably collectible to someone besides them, and the remains of many things. I am sure one would find ten carafes for broken Mr. Coffee machines, as an example. I've never regretted anything I saved; however, I do long for some things I've discarded on cleaning frenzies. It's a good thing I don't have too many of those, I guess! We all have our priorities, and my sentimental possessions are my treasures. I can always find another corner of a closet to preserve a treasure.

-- Posted by GONENOW on Sun, Nov 23, 2008, at 2:36 PM

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Bunyan Tales
Paul Corbin
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Paul Corbin is a 100-year-old historian, humorist, and amateur archaeologist from Advance, Mo. He grew up in the Greenbrier area west of Advance, where he attended Stepp School on the banks of Cato Slough and the Castor River, important waterways throughout his life. In an age when many area residents did not go to high school, the young Corbin made the decision to walk the five miles to Zalma, graduating in 1933. Throughout his life, he was an enterprising businessman, selling Watkins products from house to house throughout a large area - and later opening a variety store in Advance. He and his wife Geneva traveled throughout the United States, even following the route that the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. His knowledge of Native American culture is extensive, and he has donated a sizeable collection of his artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill. Throughout the years, he has submitted articles to TBY, the North Stoddard Countian, the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other Missouri publications. He has also written two books - "Reflections in Missouri Mud," and "Fragments of my Feeble Mind." The first one is out of print.
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