Finding welcome in packrat heaven

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 10, 2004

I suppose it started with my dad, who truly hated to throw anything away – string, rubber bands, defunct appliances, worn-out tractor distributor caps – because &uot;you never know when you might need it, honey&uot;.

Between the farmhouse, the barn and Daddy’s workshop (&uot;junk pile, more like it,&uot; my mother would always sigh), there were bits and baubles of Daddy’s &uot;stuff&uot; pretty much everywhere.

Daddy was a child of the Great Depression, a young man during the ration years of WW II. He knew what it was to do without and to make do with what you have. And for my dad, that meant keeping things others might toss away without a thought. &uot;You don’t know who might get some good out of it, sugar,&uot; he’d always tell me.

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You certainly never knew what thingamajig would pop up in Grandma’s old glass hen or be discovered tucked away behind the latest framed school day photo on the bookshelves. Daddy’s stuff was everywhere.

With the best of intentions, my dad was always putting his things away for safekeeping. However, he often forgot exactly where his little treasures were hidden once the golden hour of need finally arrived.

&uot;Mama! Have you seen my such-and-such?&uot; was the inevitable question Daddy would ask as he’d doff his feed cap, scratching his head in bewilderment. (The routine reply was Mama’s tart sigh as she rolled her eyes over the antics of her &uot;eldest child&uot;.)

It’s said you learn what you live. I guess I learned that lesson, Daddy’s lesson about saving things, a little too well.

I live in a home of slightly over 2,000 square feet with a husband and four cats and way too many possessions. There are stacks of magazines and newspapers from the last century that I fully intend to comb through and clip from…eventually. (Who knows what great words of wisdom or wonderful writing inspirations I will glean?)

Spouse has suggested, only half-jokingly, I open a lending library and clothing rental shop since I have more than enough stock to fill one, he says. (One day I might actually fit back into those size 8s and 10s…)

Now I’m the one who’s left scratching her head, befuddled at how I have managed to misplace yet another important piece of paper (or set of keys… photograph… pair of slacks…book…you get the idea).

So here is my goal for this year: to make inroads into my packrat’s heaven. I may not lose any bodily weight, but the house will magically expand, spouse will smile and I’ll get a welcome psychic load off these narrow shoulders. Wish me luck and the same to you.

Angie Long is the Lifestyles writer for the Greenville Advocate.

She can be reached at 382-3111 or via email at

Also, write her c/o Greenville Advocate, P.O. Box 507, Greenville, AL 36037.