Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pitching part of my life

No, this post isn't about baseball, although pitching to my Little League and Bobby Sox teams as a coach was one of the most enjoyable part of that part of my life. I prefer baseball on TV over in-person because I can see the pitch locations and spin, and marvel at the artistry and difficulty of pitching well. That's another part of my life...

As I mentioned before, we are "cleaning out the garage" and remodeling the kitchen, family room and entry. There were lots of boxes up in the garage rafters - most of them unmoved since 1975 when we moved in. As I went through them on Monday, I had many memories of people, places and experiences come flooding into my mind.

Throwing stuff out is like eliminating part of your life. I can still remember all of those experiences (God willing), but if I throw the stuff out then I won't have the things that help me remember them. So what did I throw out?

1) My first real job (not the summer spent at the Chargers training camp in 1963) was with a start-up small airplane company - the boss was a German immigrant named Fred Wagner who had a novel aircraft design idea and tried to put it into production. I worked at Sunrise Aircraft as an aerodynamics engineer in the summers of 1964 and 1965, and then from late 1965 to early 1967, when the company folded. I saved many reports and company papers - but they have no value or interest to anyone, I think. I also captured many NASA reports and publications when the company folded. Out they go...except for the NASA scientific report I wrote.

2) My hobby from 1962 to 1988 (years 26 to 0 in Before Genealogy terms) was "listening to the AM radio." Now, you might say "everyone listened to the AM radio" in those days, and that's true, but I was trying to hear "the stations in between the stations." The ones in Europe, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, not to mention North American stations. This was mostly a late-night hobby, and there were two radio clubs with about 300 members each that published a bulletin 30 to 35 times a year. I also became an "expert" in radio wave propagation and published many articles in the hobby bulletins. Out they go - except for the masters of my articles and my handwritten log of station receptions.

3) We had quite a collection of magazines that we saved in the early years of our marriage. Out they go.

4) I found all of my college textbooks. They are pretty dated - out they go - to the library used book bin. I can't stand to throw away a book!

5) I found the boxes of O-gauge model train tracks, engines and boxcars that I grew up with. Out it goes - to my daughter who has a 3-year old in love with trains and a husband that can make it work.

6) I found the boxes of Little League and Bobby Sox programs and scorebooks...I'm keeping them for now to see what my girls and my brothers might want.

7) I found a box of old bank records - like 1984 to 1995. I am gradually shredding this stuff, since it had SSNs and account numbers on it. An inch of flat paper creates about two cubic yards of shredded paper - amazing.

So the garage is noticeably emptier, and the 20 foot long trash bin is getting full. Now I think we are going to work on the extra bedroom stuff. I told my wife that we will not be doing anything with the "stuff" in the Genea-Cave or else Genea-Man is going to be one unhappy puppy.

One benefit of this garage cleanup is that we have lots of empty boxes, which we will need when we have to empty the kitchen cabinets for the remodel. See, there's method to my madness.

What does this have to do with genealogy? Not much, in reality. It does have a lot to do with my life - my memories - and the problem of "what do we save, what do we pitch" that all of us face in our daily lives.

I've always kidded my daughters that "we'll leave all of the stuff in the house and the garage for you to sort through when we're gone, so that you can decide what you want to save or pitch." I'm leaving my memoirs to them, which include descriptions of each of these parts of my life - that should be enough.

The genealogy "collection of dead ancestors" stuff is another matter of course - how much can I put into words and pictures and pass on in book or manuscript form? It depends on life choices, health and personal interests, of course. I'm working on it!

1 comment:

Becky said...

I'm going through a similar process myself, having just moved to an apartment after 20+ years in two different houses. I find it very difficult to throw stuff away even though I may never use it again. There are boxes of stuff from the move 10 years ago that were never opened. Those boxes now sit in my garage waiting for a time when they can be sorted through. It's like you're tossing away a part of your life, and like you said, if those things aren't there to remind you, the times may eventually be forgotten.

My mother recently gave me letters that I had written to her when I was in the Navy 35 years ago. I had forgotten a lot of the things I had written about so I'm really glad she saved them as they brought back a lot of good memories and some not so good as well but that is all part of life. Sometimes, a little prompting is what is needed to recall events from the past, that is why I hate to throw things away.