I complained quite a bit by the time we finally moved east last fall. Even before that. Our lives were thrust in turmoil from the moment we put the house on the market in mid-2012. It was like our house wasn’t ours anymore, but it was. Uneasy about letting any junk lie around, beds unmade, or plan a big day of canning. We always had to be ready for a showing. It just didn’t feel like our home anymore. Less like our house after we rented a storage unit and packed a good third of our belongings away for what we thought would be 90 days. Try 1,200 days. Ugh. Why it took over 3 years to sell a nifty lake home still puzzles me.
|Larry, Spitzy and me. Backyard on 15th St, 1956…|
There were several advantages to renting that dang storage unit. We stored big furniture pieces in it, giving our house a larger, less cluttered, more open look. I’d pine over the spot where each piece had resided for 18 years. But it was the 2 rows of plastic tubs, all neatly stacked to the ceiling that simply oozed out of my memory bank.
|My photo album, circa 1960. Larry has always been on the front page…|
We went through quite a few of the tubs when it became apparent the house sale was actually a reality. This was our first move in 20 years, and the first one where we’d be doing all the work of packing. And paying for it ourselves. Ouch. We needed to lighten our load. Didn’t do such a hot job in that department. The stark realization hit, we would not be able to keep everything. We really wanted to downsize. We hadn’t used several rooms of our house for years. It was just too big. But there a feeling of being disloyal when it came to selling a favorite antique, only to find in the future, it might be just the right size and fit a new house perfectly. So we paid the movers to load 14,000 pounds of our belongings. This after we thought we’d seriously gotten rid of a boatload of stuff.
|Larry’s bible from Pioneer Methodist, 1956…|
After we bought a home about 800 square feet smaller than our last one, the movers unloaded what seemed like 30,000 pounds of stuff in the house, basement and garage. We barely had room to walk. I moved, swapped out, wrung my hands over pieces that just weren’t going to work. I kept telling myself, “it’s just stuff Neese, let it go.” Please, for everything that’s holy, do NOT start humming that song.
|Larry’s stuff, including his bow tie…|
So I’ve come to terms with what will and won’t work in here. I’m ok with that. I’ve managed to find spots for most of my favorites. The kids will take the rest or we’ll sell a few things. But to my surprise, one of the best parts of that annoying storage unit was finding some small, unexpected treasures.
|Larry about 6 by our fabulous play house Dad built…|
After my Mom passed away in 2004, Dad lived in their house another 4 months. It sold, and I had about a week to pack, save or give away their stash of belongings. And he and Mom had lived there for 50 years. Hokey Pete. My sister Mona and her 3 kids took quite a bit. The rest was for me and our 3 children. Plus Dad was moving to Michigan, so he kept whatever he wanted for his new apartment. Which I then got after he passed away 3 plus years later. That’s really how I got so bogged down with all these containers and boxes. I just couldn’t keep up with the deaths and moves. Easier to just ignore the stacks.
|Larry’s Christmas gift to Mom in the early 50’s…|
And that’s exactly why it’s been such a trip going through these containers now. I did have to toughen my thin skin a bit when it hit me that I couldn’t keep everything. It was that or rent another storage unit. If I was agonizing over my decision making skills, I did not cave very many times. John thought if he tried to hurry me along, I’d just say, “heck, just haul it to Goodwill.” No, I used my outside voice and wore my big girl panties and firmly stated, “dude, there’s no way I’m getting rid of that right now. Maybe in a year or 2, but for now, it stays.” Then he’d start whining, “we aren’t going to have a bunch of tubs just taking up space. Are you absolutely sure you really need this?” “Give it up John, I’m not selling or giving that away right now. Period.”
|Larry with someone I don’t recognize about 1951. He loved cotton candy…|
For the last couple weeks, Hubs has brought in a couple boxes/containers every day or 2 from the garage for me to go through. Knick-knacks I didn’t remember until I spotted them again. I have a dozen beautiful paper weights. I thought I had 4. Now my bookcases are cluttered with too many things on each shelf. But it’s almost like getting new stuff all over cause I haven’t seen it for 4 years.
|Larry’s billfold. Complete with classmates pics, 1957…|
The items that have been no brainers to keep is anything that was my brother Larry’s. He was killed in 1958 at age 12, while riding his bike. I was 7 and worshipped him. The faithful few who read every blog post might be wondering why I keep repeating some of the same things about him. I actually wanted to talk about this anyway. When Larry is mentioned, I feel I have to give a bit of background. I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years. Several of my stories have been about Larry. He was a huge part of my life, and after he was gone, our family fell apart. But stayed together. Don’t know if it would have been worse if we had actually split.
|Larry and me at our west side house before we moved in 1955…|
The only way for me to keep track of who reads my posts is if someone either ‘likes’ the story or makes a comment. I’m sure a few more folks have read some sporadically, but there is no way for me to actually know. But every once in a while a complete stranger finds my blog (by accident, I’m sure). Can you believe it, they read and comment? I know, honest, I’m just as surprised as you. Because these blog-passers-by (thanks so much BTW), and don’t really know a thing about Neese and her storytelling, I feel I have to give a bit of background when I mention Larry. I know it’s lame for the devoted few who have read many variations numerous times and think, “yeah, she’s definitely losing it. She CRS.”
|These are my old toys…|
Larry’s treasures. They mean more to me than all my antiques and collectibles combined. Sometimes I wonder why Mom kept certain things from him and not others. A pair of his swimming trunks, jeans, and one shirt. His baseball gloves, pop gun, bubblegum machine, and billfold with most of his classmates pictures inside. Guess they were from 6th grade or maybe they had already gotten their 7th grade pictures back. That stuff I don’t wonder about. I’m sure glad Mom kept what she did and was a saver.
|Larry’s jeans, shirt and swimming trunks. Size 12, but so little…|
Here’s one of the more curious items I just found. The soft, thin string is very yellow with age. It had so many knots I truly thought about cutting it apart. But I really wanted to save it as original as possible. The trinkets attached to the string looked chintzy. So, for about 45 minutes I painstakingly worked to untangle the mess. Careful to keep them in the same order Larry had put them on about 60 years ago. A mish-mash of plastic, or metal looking tiny objects. I can only compare it to a girl’s charm bracelet or necklace-tough boy style. Since he passed away in ’58, they all date before that. Hubs offered his opinion as I was removing them one by one. He thinks they’re from Cracker Jacks boxes. One is a zodiac sign of Virgo that resembles a coin. A couple of dogs, bowling pins, gun, stagecoach, skull, plastic safety pin. And on the very end is a good sized nail. I didn’t even take that apart. It had a nice knot and wasn’t tangled up. I couldn’t imagine why a nail would be on the end. Uncomfortable if he carried this around in his pocket. John ventured he thought Larry was going to or had hung it up somewhere. Using the nail. Hmmm.
|Larry’s collection, untangled…|
So I’ve dedicated a couple of shelves in an oak bookcase for some of Larry’s and my old stuff. For me, part of a baking set with tiny cookie cutters, a jello mold, kaleidoscope, wooden rolling pin, stuffed animals. A little plaid pup that Larry gave me 60 years ago for Christmas.
|A gift from Larry to his little sis, mid-’50’s…|
Larry, although you’ve been gone for a long time, not a day has passed when I haven’t thought about you. Ever. Not as long as I live. Love ‘ya Bro…
|Me, Larry and Spitzy about 1954…|