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Making do with what you had

Sometimes I have been called a saver. Other times I have been known as a pack rat. I do have a habit of saving things, of not being able to throw things away. I can’t throw that away because I might need it sometime, even if I haven’t used it for several years.

Yes, I grew up in a generation when we didn’t have much. It was back in the time when you used it up, wore it out, made it do, or did without. We didn’t have many material things but we always had plenty to eat.

Mom was a good cook and knew how to make the most of the food she was preparing. Dad always had two or three pigs to butcher and we kept a small flock of chickens for eggs. We had two or three cows for milk, cream and butter along with cottage cheese. Mom knew how to make good use of all those products so we usually ate well.

This afternoon, we will have a memorial celebration for my younger brother, Wayne, who died recently. There were four of us boys, all fairly close together in age. Our sister, Mary, came along about four years after Wayne.

Wayne probably never knew what new clothes were. He, along with the rest of us, lived in the “hand-me-down generation.” Clothing was never discarded from my older brothers; they were just handed down from one to the next.

Recently, our daughters were home for a visit and they are much better at making decisions about what should be kept and what should be thrown away. They never lived in the generation that we did where you didn’t have many things.

The closet in my office was kind of out of control. So I asked them to help me decide what I should keep and what should go.

Decisions like this are difficult for me since I was brought up during a time when we didn’t have many things and didn’t throw anything away.

It is interesting what you will find when you start going through a storage closet. Things you knew you had but hadn’t seen or used for some time, maybe years. There is a saying that if you haven’t used it for a year, it is time to throw it away. I’m not sure I can agree with that, but it has some merit as you go through old things.

There were three or four old blankets, clean and in good shape that we gave to Goodwill. One box had a number of old computer cables and adapters that were given to a company that refurbishes them.

One of our daughters is very much into genealogy and an exciting thing was a nice album with pictures of our ancestors on my father’s side of the family. I had forgotten it was in the closet.

A long time ago, I had written information from my father on the bottom of many of the pictures. This helped us identify the generations in the pictures. There was one of my great-grandfather Marquis Holcomb, who was killed in the Civil War. Another one was Ursula, his wife, who had two children living out of six that she and Marquis had.

There were many more good pictures and our daughter Jill found them helpful in her genealogy search. It was an exciting find for all of us.

We found three or four nice books that the girls took to our local library. They were glad to have them.

Deciding what to keep and what to give away was difficult for me. But with the help of our daughters, we did a good job of organizing the closet and keeping what was important and useful.

Now we need to start in on a couple more closets that are a bit out of control.

Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Contact him at 149woodside@twc.com

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