Hanging on

ShirtsI was raised by depression-era parents. Granted, they were only little kids during that time. However, their parents instilled in them, as they, in turn, instilled in me, the understanding that you must take care of your things because there may be no replacing them.

For example, I was an adult before I learned that clothing was not widely considered a durable product, like a washing machine or a refrigerator or something. My brother, sister and I were provided a clothes shopping day once each year just before school started. And that was it. Whatever shirts and trousers or skirts and blouses my Dad bought for us on that late summer trip to the Montgomery Ward store in Niles would have to do until the next year’s sojourn.

And we didn’t have unique uniforms for virtually every activity, as people seem to have these days. The attire purchased on that excursion would be the same outfits we would wear to school and when playing baseball, riding bikes, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. Dad also made me buy shoes that were two sizes too big to make sure they would get me through another growing season. I spent the first six months of every school year looking as though I bought my shoes at a clown store. We took care of our clothes because we knew they were going to have to last a whole year.

My kids tease me about holding onto things. They are probably right, to some degree. Speaking of clothes, here are some duds I have possessed for more than twenty years (see how this compares to your closet): My Johnston and Murphy dress shoes (although highly polished and rarely worn, they are starting to show some signs of deterioration—they have been re-soled a half-dozen times); various red and green plaid shirts (…worn only during the holidays); certain golf Polo shirts (I don’t play golf much anymore—so there they hang); my casual leather belt (I have added some new holes to account for variations in my waistline from year-to-year).

Other tangible products which I have held on to for at least two decades include golf clubs; golf gloves (I keep the old ones for backup); jumper cables; myriad rusty tools; Christmas cards (got overstocked on these somewhere along the way); my bed linens (I must admit, the baby blue ones are now as thin as gossamer); my Gillette Super II twin blade razor (like a Timex—it just keeps on ticking); and the last of the Revere Ware pots and pans that Christy and I bought when we first got married (man that stuff holds up). I only recently gave up on the barbecue grill—I could no longer buy replacement parts for it. I am also the proud owner of a working, eight-track cartridge player (I think it still works—haven’t used it in a long while).

Here’s some stuff I have owned for more than forty years: baseball gloves and baseballs; my guitar; Christmas decorations; extension cords; kitchen utensils and dinnerware; myriad shop and garden tools. I have a government-issue letter opener that I swiped from my desk when I was in the Coast Guard—manufactured circa 1940. Still use it every day. What a great steal!

My son buys a new iPhone pretty much every other year. I held on to my plain-Jane cell phone for nearly five years before I was goaded into buying a new one. (The weakening, non-replaceable battery also encouraged my grudging purchase of a new device.) My son treats golf balls as if there were an unlimited supply. I still have to force myself to walk past the cattail thickets along the fairway without stopping to perform an impromptu ball search (it’s fun, actually—a lot like hunting for Easter eggs). I possess discarded computers, computer parts, cables and peripherals stashed all over the house. These things still work! Although, I must admit, I have replaced them with faster and easier-to-use hardware, and I no longer have any need for them—nor does anyone else, I suppose. But, dammit, they still work! I dragged around an ancient Lanier desktop copier for nearly ten years before, with clenched jaw, setting it out on the curb. I paid five hundred bucks for that thing. Granted, the new one I bought for eighty dollars at Office Depot is faster, prints in color and has wifi. Yeah, but…

I am in remediation, though. I don’t generally wear clothes that appear worn. (I might save them for a rainy day, but I pretty much refrain from wearing them—in public, anyway). I am slowly building a small mountain of discarded cell phones and accessories (battery chargers, earbuds…). I still wear jeans until they fall off of me, but I no longer wear the pair with the hole in the crotch (at my daughter’s insistence). I don’t wear underwear or socks that have holes in them. But I wear them until they get holes in them—or I can see through them, whichever comes first. And I find that I am inclined to buy a new car any time my current one starts to get dirty.

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3 comments

    Loved this and I can relate! I just moved the collection of garage sale VHS movies to the basement cuz someday I MAY watch them. In fact I was able to donate “How Stella Got Her Groove” after watching it for the first time ever. Over rated. Great writing to share this time of year.

    As my mother continually reminded me as a boy ‘….use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!’ (But she also used to tell me to ‘…go stand on your thumbs and let your feet hang down’. And, yes, I’m still trying to figure that one out). Then, too, I recall being nearly dumbfounded as an eight year old discovering that my father had shoes he had owned for TWENTY YEARS! Yegods! I think I’ve outdone him though as I still own and wear a pair of flip-flops I bought on the island of Kauai in 1980!!! Granted, they ARE nearly worn but, honestly, they’re still serviceable. I’m secretly going for a record I guess.

    Free TV to $$
    Phone to Monthly Contract $$$
    Art Program to Cloud Contract $$$
    Good company Job to Downsizing
    Physical Games to finger exercise
    Whole Foods to GMO, HFC, and Hydrogenation
    Progress to sideways improvements
    Earnest job Searching to Entitlements
    All debatable and changeable

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