Really, It’s All Just “Stuff”

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Since my wife’s parents died late last year, Neav and her sister have been involved in the process of going through Ted and Martha’s “stuff”.

Actually, since Linda is still living in their house, she’s been the one pawing through the closets and the cabinets, deciding what should/could go to Goodwill or should be permanently stored at the landfill.

Several times a week, Neav will get a call and it’s Linda asking if she wants the “whatever” and should it be donated or tossed.

Sometimes the question is more specific. Do you want it or would one of the kids want it?

Our family had already latched on to a few “special” items before the housecleaning got underway so generally, Neav’s answer has been, “Don’t want it.”

Neav’s also returned to her parents’ home for several days to help with the effort.

Ted and Martha both lived into their 90’s and were married nearly 75 years so you can imagine how much “stuff” they’ve accumulated.

Martha was a knitter, crochet-er and sew-er so her sewing room was loaded with all sorts of material and fabrics.

My Mother-in-law was also a bit of a “clothes-hound” as my wife and Sister-in-law uncovered many outfits in storage with the price tags and labels still attached.

Martha’s realm was in the house and  except for some small closet space for clothes and small work areas in the corner of the basement and attached garage, Ted’s “things” were not evident.

Except for the unattached garage.

That was “Teddy Territory” and it’s why Neav wanted me to accompany her for a few “rooting and sorting days” recently.

For years, Ted was a District Garage Manager for Columbia Gas so he was familiar with the tools needed to keep mechanical things running.

He also amassed quite a collection of tools and “gimmie-gotchas” and he kept them in his garage.

We reverently went into Ted’s domain one morning and the safari was underway.

One of my first stops was the attic above the garage.

We pulled down the folding steps and I boldly climbed up to find no less than 6 empty 5 gallon buckets of asphalt driveway sealer. But, I also uncovered several electric motors and old lawn mower engines up there, plus boxes of wires and other parts and pieces of things mechanical in nature.

I understood Ted’s basic hoarding nature.

He grew up somewhat poor, experienced the Great Depression and with his mechanical background, I don’t think there was a motor or engine he couldn’t get purring again.

Ted also worked with an auctioneer for several years and I know he brought back a number of unsold things he figured he’d tinker with some day.

Ted had more hand tools than most modern-day garages do and for the most part, they were neatly organized and displayed.

But 4 working amp meters?

At least 3 circular saws?

Even a small block farm tractor engine?

Gone was the golf cart and the amazing log-splitter  he built from pieces and parts.

But his little, blue two-wheeled trailer with the lift-up/pop-off aluminum top was still there although it had become a mouse motel when I looked inside.

When we had wood-burning stoves, that trailer hauled literally tons of firewood we cut and split over the years and many an evening was spent in front of a warming fire.

Did I say he also built that trailer as well?

Despite the fact that he owned every imaginable hand tool every made, he also constructed a few of his own.

He welded a piece of rebar to a wrench so he could access an out-of-the-way Chevy Vega engine bolt.

I found a huge masonry drill bit that he welded an extension on for a special drilling project he had.

As a Garage Manager, he also got countless gifts of socket sets and such from jobbers and suppliers over the years, most of them never used and looking as new today as when he received them.

I had to chuckle though when we found two of the 50th Anniversary “Rigid Tool” calendars with the bikini-clad beauties from 1985-1986. They are pristine as the day they were printed because they weren’t hung up in the garage. They were stored in the bottom of his important papers file.

That still makes me chuckle.

He even saved my old childhood microscope. Not sure how he wound up with it but Grandson Cooper will now have it to peer through.

We also found an old “Johnny on the Spot” article I wrote with a parody song to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 1981 MLB walk out. Ted sent it to a Chevy publication thinking they should reprint it.

That put a lump in my throat.

But to me, that’s all most of it was or is.

Stuff.

The “stuff” of Ted  and Martha I really cherish is in my mind and my heart.

Well except maybe for Ted’s spud bar but that’s an article all by itself.

That would be in that “special stuff” category.

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