by Kasmeister on Feb 14th in Personal
After three years I finally finished clearing out my Dad’s storage unit. I’ve been working on it since he passed away and now, finally, it’s all gone. My Dad’s “treasures” consisted of items that my family and I pulled from the wreckage of his basement after 40 years of hording. We took over 20 truckloads directly to the dump. Twenty!! I was astonished that in the midst of so much stuff, that there was so little that was worth keeping.
Granted, my Dad grew up during the Depression and in a time when you didn’t throw things out – you fixed them. And if you couldn’t fix them, you used them for parts. Yet my Dad had so many stored parts that our basement looked like a hardware store after an explosion.
I remember one Saturday going to my parent’s house while they were out of town. I went to see if I could discretely “remove” some items without my Dad noticing. The writing had been on the wall for a while that they would soon be moving to a senior’s complex. I had already started to identify a few items that I wanted for myself, but first, some junk had to go.
As I looked around my Dad’s “workshop,” which over the years had morphed into a junk room and an occasional place to store potatoes, I decided on what I would get rid of first. Within a few minutes I had loaded up five old televisions. Yes, you read that right – FIVE. Now lots of people have an old TV kicking around. My Dad, however, had sets produced during the administration of every U.S. President over the last 40 years!
As I loaded up the sets into the back of my van, I felt a certain sense of guilt that I was “stealing” my Dad’s old junk. I know he hadn’t touched any of those sets for years – some for decades – but it was still his stuff. (Not surprisingly he never noticed.) As I drove to the Eco-Centre I thought about the many times our family gathered around one of those televisions to watch The Wonderful World of Disney or Hockey Night in Canada or…. (I can’t think of any more because we never had cable.)
I especially remember one of those TV sets because I used to play with it when my friends and I would use the cold room as a make shift bridge aboard the Starship Enterprise. As far as playrooms go, I had the best.
My Dad had lots of old equipment from his days in radio broadcasting. Giant reel-to-reel players, that once providing background music to doctors and dentist offices, were now computer stations for my space adventures. Old Morse code keys, that actually worked, were rigged for tapping out messages to the Klingon ships we would encounter. Knobs and levers and dials aplenty made our play time a very hands-on experience. And the best part was our view screen.
That old black and white TV with the gray metal sides that now rattled around in the back of my van, had just enough life left in it to create some pretty amazing visuals when I was a kid. The snowy gray picture would morph into a flash when it was shut off. That was the explosion. Depending on how good a captain I was, it might take several shots before the enemy ship was destroyed. Once it was gone, the explosion would slowly retreat into a small bright beam of light in the center of the screen, shrinking until it completely disappeared. Sometimes it meant they had jumped to warp, but they never got away.
My childhood was framed by the junk we hauled away to the dump.
Old white plastic bowling pins were lobbed like grenades as we played, “Hogan’s Heroes” in the backyard. The handle off an old lawnmower was a howitzer and cardboard boxes were the trenches in which we hid. An abandoned set of black leather gloves were just like the kind Batman wore as he and Robin dispensed with the Riddler and the bodyguards of the Penguin. We wore them now and when we did, no one could defeat us. We painted giant sheets of discarded plywood using near empty cans of white paint my father set behind the garage. Now those sheets were forts. Parts of an old crib formed the floor for a hideaway in the attic of our garage. For years it was a den for my older brothers and their nefarious weed. But they grew up, left home, and for me it became a place to host an open camp fire – that is until the fire department showed up.
Junk. Spaces. Imagination.
I am so thankful that there was no such thing as computers, and Ipods, and Xbox when I was growing up. Lobbing an old Wii console just wouldn’t be the same as an old bowling pin. Although, some days, it might give me the same sense of satisfaction.