Fixing families

Entering the too-full home begins to get uncomfortable from the get go. The front porch is too cluttered, the entrance-way is filled with papers and stacks of books, the hallways are smaller than they were meant to become, piled high with broken furniture and once-hung paintings, children’s playthings from years gone by and boxes of God-knows-what stuffed past the tops. Deciding whether or not to help this poor family stems more from past phone conversations than it ever would from seeing this dilapidated homestead…filled with memories that tear at the heart and challenges too large for any single family member to attempt ¬†clearing and cleaning enough to market the property.

We begin with an overview; a walk-through, a general assessment. This allows me the ability to report back to the family if they are not there with us, with a guesstimate as to the value of the home’s contents. Vast collections of pottery or art might pale in value next to garages filled with early primitive tools or closets shoved full of postcards and costume jewelry. Merely because something appraises highly with an insurance company doesn’t mean a hill of beans when it comes to unloading it to the public in a four-day sale. Better you should have items that are currently collectible and hot with the general public than to get stuck with a home so fancy no-one would have a use for their museum-like items that most of us admire but never want.

My guess is that we have fared better over the years, for our clients as well as our own business, with a nice eclectic mix of useful household items and general collectibles interesting enough to make a decent marketable sale. People like to come and browse, digging through fishing tackle boxes, drawers of silverware, shelves of old musty books signed by the author’s and first editions hidden on the pages for the strong of heart and adventuress to discover. Truth be told the more vast the collection of items at hand, the better your chances of emptying the contents through a sale and discount day vs free and dumpster-fillings.

What other livelihood would allow it’s breed to feel so needed and appreciated, useful and sought after? We are a lucky lot that survive via junk and solutions to too much of it. It is few and far between that have found this path and made great struggles to succeed in pushing items from one family to another, making a living from moving items not wanted to other people who need and will pay for it. No formal education or earned diploma could give a person the gumption and know-how to empty a house and make money from doing so, box up a garage and pay for a dumpster through the goodies and know how to tell the difference. Although I have spent many years in school and am glad to have acquired the certificates I managed, no college credit I have mustered could have given me the satisfaction of earning the reputation I have in working for myself in this competitive field of junk-peddling and liquidating estates throughout the area. It makes me proud to be trusted and gives me pleasure to be needed.

My nearly twelve-year-old daughter, having read a bit of the above asked that I ‘dumb it down’ and try to write more smoothly and less smart. She has told me it is hard to read and sounds like it is more boring when I ‘write smart’ or don’t talk to the average person. My girl tells me it would be ‘easier to comprehend’ if I wrote more plain and simple. I don’t buy it. I have always thought we gave people less credit than they deserved. I think given a druther, most of us would rather be talked to as adults and bright, challenging people than to be talked down to.

At any rate, I am glad we can help others. I am relieved and blessed every time we finish a home, a week or so after entering the dwelling. The way we leave floors mopped and windows washed, closets empty and hallways clear. I like the feeling of completion nearly as much as the initial challenge. I like knowing we did the best we could, although we never sign a contract promising to do as much as we do, we seldom leave anything less than perfection and one would be hard-pressed to find another company anywhere that would work as hard for the money or do as honest of a job. I like our business, I think I may have been made just for this; solving problems and fixing families.

Where had I gone?

The mold spores hit you in the face the moment you walked down the stairs. It was hard to see the cause of the thick, mildewed air from the faint light falling through the torn and rotten curtain covering the broken panes of glass separating the basement room from the outside elements. Only enough light snuck through to lay thin lines across the waist high stacks of old damp albums, knee high piles of books and huge masses of dampened clothing. Like slivers of silver paint on dark black imaginations.

When one got all the way into the dark, dank room you noticed little squeaks and slithering sounds underfoot that let you know immediately that you were not alone. Large lonesome rats and grosses of centipedes snuck underfoot and made their way across the chalky cement back to whence they came. If one stood very still, you could hear your heart beneath the sounds of dripping dew falling from the roots of trees impatient to invade the space, spending years forcing their entry and many more waiting to extend their ownership entirely.

My worries only magnified when I got into the second room of wonder and the end of the basement, as I knew it. The door was unable to fully open due to bottles from long ago on one side and too many treasures kept against the wall in crates and boxes only partially containing their secret holdings. My mind raced to when I was a child up in Northern California and how much I liked exploring the neighbors’ basements, never afraid nor hesitant like I felt now, never slow and careful like I knew was my present mental state.

What had become of my nerve? Where were the guts of steel and inane curiosity that drove me to climb trees, steal pies from window sills and dig bottles in a no trespassing yard down near the mill? I felt the brave girl in me was gone, leaving only this middle aged woman who was far too careful and worried about airborne molds and broken glass that could injure and infect her, missing the magic of exploration and desires of discovery.

Where then had my girl-child run off? To a safer place of cleaned attics and organized drawers? To a sure fire business where others did the dirty work and I was only around to buff off their finds and price their antiques once found and named? I hoped not. I searched deep inside myself in that dark and dampened hole and found her once again. The little child. The curious kid. The finder of gold and digger of dirt. I once more discovered the little pirate within and welcomed her to this secret basement hideaway, and right then, I got down on my knees and started to dig.

How I decide

There are lines to draw when deciding on whether or not one wants to take the challenge of bidding on or selling an estate. For years now I have made it a policy to always say ‘yes’ to clients referred by good friends or co-workers that need my help. In doing so, I have lost many clients on the other end due to poor estates where there was nothing decent to sell, or placating the seller by having to price items so high that the sale made little or no money and only angered my buyers. In hindsight I should have cut short many ties with realtors and family friends who asked me to help when there was no monetary reward in sight.

In current times, I am far choosier than before. When a friend or family member wants assistance and I know that it is a losing proposition, I instead give my time freely in setting up, organizing, even pricing items and then running the ad on my site to my buyers, but any further I stay out. I don’t pay for a crew, buy food, do signs or stick around. What comes of their sale is left up to them after I do my best to assist. If a home has less than five thousand dollars gross merchandise within it’s walls, the chances of an estate being worth our while is dim to none.

On the other side, you may have a house with over twenty thousand dollars worth of merchandise; antiques, collectibles and whatnot housed inside but in the end, if it is high maintenance and take tons of hours and workers to organize and give the sale, you end up losing on the labor and cleanup or other costs. You can easily spend three to four thousand dollars on giving a sale and due to that being all out of pocket up front for a liquidator; this can be a risky business to venture into.

I like a little in between when it comes to choosing a house to liquidate. When selling an estate and emptying a content entirely, I like to search for a fun project: lots of eclectic items, an interesting mix, something for everyone and plenty of challenge. I like to control the setting, have open range of the home and surroundings, have trust and good relations with the owner/s, and have ample time to do our deed. I like a relaxed feeling for advertising, the agreement in advance to make our own choices on what goes, stays, sells and gets tossed. I enjoy the leverage of being able to try for good prices but when that fails, lower the price, take an offer or donate what doesn’t go by Sunday night. I enjoy the freedom this job gives me, and the challenges and good feelings you get everyday that you finish a hard days work with a sigh.

These are all factors to take into consideration when signing a contract with a family, executor or realtor to empty a home or sell an estate. The truth is though, that many times, I work for a family simply because I like them. I sign a contract or make a promise only due to wanting to help someone who needs me, and in those cases, while you help and please some, you upset and displease others and you cannot always please everyone all the time. But we do our best to try.

Regrets, I’ve had but few

She said she needed my help. She explained a friend and past working relationship had referred my company. She went on to add she was excited about meeting me, couldn’t wait to hear from me, was all in line with what we had to do to ready her Mother’s home for the next step necessary to empty their property via an estate sale.

I might have known she was a bit of a loon. I should have picked up on her being far too friendly. In hindsight I should have just said ‘no’ after hearing her dilemma with her sister, daughter and son, in-laws, stepsiblings and neighbors. There were so very many signs that should have scared me away from signing the contract, but always the gleam in her eye begging me forward to helping her, fixing her misfortune, making all right in the world for she and her family. What a huge mistake helping this woman turned out to be.

Every once in awhile, not often but occasionally, we meet and work with a loony tune or two. Not often do we find ourselves at their mercy or them at ours, but it does happen. For the record I try to make it a practice of never signing a contract with, nor promising to help a person who is up in arms or fighting with anyone regarding his or her property or estate. I find that people, who live with lots of drama, usually bring it upon themselves and I try to steer clear of getting in the middle of their crazed-out lives and tangled situations. Life is too short to spend time with these crazies and I have too much on my plate in raising my daughter to spend even a moment with these nutty sorts of folks.

This estate was the exception. This woman proved me wrong. I might have known once she started spouting off about her sister being greedy and mean, selfish and a control freak that something was up. I should have seen it in her too-nice-of letters, too frequent of phone calls and too-often-of visits that she was obsessed with this project and should have been left alone to deal with it. I didn’t. Plain and simple, I didn’t and am sorry for that.

She drove the crew and I crazy. She continues to do so. She spews accusations and stories of paranoia, she screams of injustices and feelings of rape and prosecution. She tells strangers around me that I am unfair and unjust, that I take advantage and don’t treat her fairly. I roll my eyes and think back to the day she first phoned me, wishing I had not returned the call, not gone to see her, never jumped into her dumpster to remove her family heirlooms to sell to my clients for her best interest.

Every cell of my being feels regret. Every hair on my head senses remorse. Every dermal layer of my skin wishes for take-back and time warps, start-over and second chances. I could scream when I hear her name, shudder when I see her face, sicken when I read her notes. The mere sight of the photos taken within her home make me feel ill to my stomach and weak with anxiety. I cannot imagine a woman less worthy of my efforts and yet I gave them all in spades. For what? The ingrate. What a terribly waste of my time.

This lesson I have learned: to think twice about someone who is nicer than they should be. To trust less when a person is too friendly and seems too close. To wonder what is up, when they ask for so much in such a short period. She has my guard up now, and unfortunately, the next person I try to help will weather my worries about who to trust.

Surviving on Junk

For over twenty some odd years now, I’ve paid my bills, supported myself, and now my daughter on the income made from selling Junk. True story. No other business venture has had quite the dash of spice that this segment of society seems to hold for me. I love the smells, the feeling, the visual stimulation and even the emotional gratitude I get when I solve a problem for a family or finish a job well done.

Many people look a whole life through for something to catch their interest. Mine, well with mine I’ve jumped around from having a lawn service, training horses, teaching English to foreigners, nanny work, cutting hair and eventually even to opening my own shops. All of these time lapses paled in comparison with this livelihood, which has kept my heart, head and body occupied for nearly half of my life.

The first thing a person needs to be successful in the ‘shit shoveling’ industry of selling other people’s unwanted household items, antiques, collectibles or just junk, is makeup. If you don’t have the general makeup necessary to give it a go; gumption, persistence, intelligence, motivation, ambition and by all means, the natural born ability to follow through with what you started, you will never last a week let alone a decade in this dump. Me? I was born to it.

From an early age of pre-school where my Father allowed me to dig through dumps, bottle graveyards and even Indian Burial grounds of Northern California, searching for arrowheads and beads to string, I loved to touch, smell and adore other people’s past. The idea of another loving something before I touched it, intrigued me so much, that I learned early to covet another’s persons discarded memories just as one man would another man’s wife.

I would sit and stare into an attic, a basement, cellar, rotten abandoned house or barn, a trunk, shed or any other place you may find a spider or mouse or rat even, and yearn to go exploring. I could feel it inside of me bringing to a boil the bubbling of emotions that were only calmed with the finding of an old and musty article of historic proportions; be it comic book or Victorian nightie. I still get that same satisfaction when a family hires me to clean out a dusty dank garage or household, dig through closets or cupboards, sort and sell heritage and heirlooms. I shiver at the thought of a juicy sale right now!

So this is my calling. This is my understanding of what a happy livelihood is all about. The only way I can explain my success is to tell people to read that book about doing what you like, and the money will follow. I never could fathom spending half, most or all of my day doing something I didn’t love. Far be it from me to have a job that I spent half of my life at, and didn’t look forward to doing the best I was able, and feel proud every night when I drifted off to sleep.

I know I’m a lucky girl, I realize I’m about one in a hundred in this factor. I also am pretty sure that there are those out there who love their job just as much as I do. Whether these men and women wait tables, build houses, dig sewers or run nations, my only hope is that in the end, they would have rather done nothing else with their entire day, than what they chose to do. Amen!

How do we do it?

Often I am asked how I can stand it. How I can muster the courage, manage the feat, gather the gumption. Quite often I am questioned about my job and what makes me tick, able to go into one house after another and weather all the memories, the sorting, the trash amongst the treasures. They ask me how then I can stand to touch such dirty things, to dig through other people’s lives, smell all the foul odors of musty closets, to sit by and sell a family’s lineage and pick through pictures and letters, history and heritage.

I answer only, “I love it.” This job of mine is one of passion and bliss, hard work and content belonging in my bones. I was born to this struggle and the satisfaction I get from a job well done is irreplaceable with any other job-end I have found. No structured work can compare. No daytime nine to five job could hold a candle to this mania of mine. No other job-description of orders carried out then, can do anymore than dim in comparison to literally saving the lives of the people I meet, getting them out of messes and saving them months of worry and crinkled brows. I love this service, my job, I long to do it forever.

When I compare the finished product with the first day we met, I think back upon the sorting, cleaning, researching and pricing of the treasures unearthed. The donating of the ill-suited, selling of the amazing, fighting over of the rare and gifted, shoveling of the ordinary and organizing of the random, I soften with the notion I have found my place. I relax into the idea that this is my destiny; to do what others are unable to do for themselves, my strength then, and my glory. I can do this, I am good at it, I can manage it quite well. Not everyone is able, but I am and do so quite willingly.

My answer to their questions of why and how is simply that I can and do. In that end knowing is enough, simply realizing it is possible, then making it happen.

The ‘flavor’ of the place

Every house has a taste you know. I’m not talking about ‘good or bad’ either. I’m not talking about high-end taste or trashy treasures. I’m simply referring to the ‘taste’ or smell of the surroundings, the flavor of the environment, what you are left with when you walk out the door whether you are holding a momentum or a memory. The taste I refer to only a handful of you reading will know of but those who do, will know it deep inside your heart.

Some houses have a taste of cleanliness, like if they let something set or dawdle it will surely grow legs or hair and haunt them later. Other homes have a taste of sedentary soundness, where the family was so set in their ways or comforted by the past, they left all they owned to set and settle for the entire passage of their history, all the years they called these walls their home. Those are my favorite then, the houses where the family had a fondness, love or even disdain for their heritage, yet at least they let it be, to prove they and theirs once existed at all.

Some people then don’t like their lives. They think that if they shed their family’s belongings they can erase the past. That if the chair they were paddled in or the bed they were molested in, was thrown to the dump that the bad memory and all its proof will fall away. They may be right, I’m not certain, all I know is that in my own experience, you are better to exorcise the demon in your heart than the one in your closet. While the tarnished toy or naughty place can be removed from view, our deep dark secrets will stay fresh upon our memory and heart if we don’t take the time to soften them, understand them and forgive those moments stolen from our past. No purging of an item will lend us such soft hugs and loving balance as a therapist, friend or lover to listen to our woes.

That said, I do understand some of why people don’t collect. I also comprehend why they want to rid the world of their pasts and with them, purge the world around them of all ailments that their families and loved ones held tight to. Some people prefer we do that for them, not wanting to be around when their albums are relocated or their toys displaced to another needy child. These people seldom care what happens to their items as long as they don’t have to deal with them. They don’t need to know then, that the doll that made them think ill of their older sister, now sits lovingly at the foot of a poor lonely girl on the other end of town, keeping her company and making her smile albeit alone.

There are still others I meet who want to know it all, step by step, moment by moment, how much and how long this all will take. There are some then, that are curious as to who holds their old sweatshirts, wears their socks, what closet now houses their favorite heels from high school. Seldom is there a person who hires me who has no curiosity about the process at all. At the very least, they like to know what happens, day by day, week by week, to make the entire forty or fifty years of their family’s presence seem to melt away from the location they hire me to purge. How then do these things absorb into the world and what do myself and the crew do to make that happen.

Some then are only curious about the money, the financial outcome, the profit realized from their family’s history and the family home contents. Those are the ones I find the funniest, the ones that can easily separate the entire life they led up to that point, and turn it into a dollar sign alone. No heartfelt sentiment, no tugging at their emotion, no feeling of mourning or loss, only marking their goal at a dollar amount and once that is met, they are satisfied that their job was done and they can then go on to live their new lives minus this small detail.

There are those who save not a photo, keep not a trinket; hold not a memory dear their heart. I cannot judge them. They may not have had an uncle who gave them a quarter for a tooth, a Grandmother who brought over German chocolate cake upon glass pedestal plates, a sister who stole her bribes from cheer leading and borrowed her handmade clothes, a brother who chased her with a mitt or laid on terrycloth towels in the sun together in their lives as kids. There are those that hold no memory close and fondly of their parents hugging and kissing them, their pet licking them, their friends singing to them. There are those. I’m sorry for that.

The truth is I cannot judge them. When it happens inadvertently, I quickly save myself the thought and remember we were not all so lucky to have a childhood we wanted to remember, not even all of mine is worthy of a thought. Not each of us is lucky enough to hold kind thoughts of the majority of our upbringing, our friends and families, our teachers and neighbors. For these folks I lend a softened heart and a welcome ear, a solid shoulder and a warm strong hand. I will be there to walk them through the process of ridding the world of their family things, their home’s contents, and their storage of memories. I won’t remind them of their wrongs or sadder days, I’ll try to make it quick and painless, and in the end, I’ll know them just a bit better because of the job I do every day.

Saving the best for last

I can still hear the leaves crackling under my feet as we walked back the entire length of the two acres to the little rotten shack settled in the dirt, no foundation to separate it from the soil and moisture upon the earth. The front door, or weakest wall of the woodpile, was secured or not with an old rusty padlock. It took not more than a bit of pressure between the metal and wilted wood, to release it’s grasp and open the doors of history it held back from the world for eighty plus years before.

The smell overwhelmed me but not in a bad way. More the way a pretty woman smells when she passes you on the street or the billowing of burnt sugar when one crosses over to get a cotton candy at the fair. The smell was one of molds and mildews, old and wonderful things. We call it the ‘attic’ smell and not a friend amongst us doesn’t get a bit wet down under when she comes upon it, nothing quite to compare that odor to cept closets of gold.

My eyes settled first upon an old humpback pail for lunches that price guides would title a ‘dome’. The metal looked as if it had never been polished or washed, yet the colors put on with lithographs so many years ago held tight and hadn’t changed a lick. The next thing I remember was the row of kitchen pie cupboards. There were four in all of various colors and styles, each a wonder of primitive variety and every one of them full to the brim with cereals of my Grandma’s era and food of days gone by. Just glancing at the artwork on each tin, paper and package made me want so badly to be back in time eating at their hand painted tables and drinking their hand milked creams with our box in front of us, giant K stealing the front top right corner of the box, prize showing largely on the back.

The home was really nothing more than a big room full of junk and storage, a small L-shaped room for a toilet and an open closet full of more stuff, proof that this family was right in building another and another building after and still if they had lived, they would need another to house their hunger for things they met in this life. No family I had come upon, nor ever will again, has found such items of quest and so many boxes of treasures. No woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting has salvaged such memories or shown me such history, be it local or far away.

Her name was Charlotte Harris and it came and went with the belongings; marked in books and upon undergarments, cross fronts of boxes and deep inside journals kept of her jaunts and journey. She was a magnificent gal who seldom left her home or that of her parents, without bringing back a treasure or two and rarely took the time to dawdle on their delight, rather going out for more before she unpacked the first. That is how I found her homes; full of stapled bags of treasures, boxes of found articles, closets of things to clean and garbage cans packed with dishes too nice to toss but not important enough to wash and house in a shelf.

Every corner was an adventure and as I opened drawers full of bounty, it became quite clear this would take awhile. In fact the last house took me the longest being nearly six months working ten hour days six days a week.  There were days I thought it would never end, with me falling through the rotten floor and hauling out box after box of rain dampened clothing, socks full of jewelry and coins, purses stacked with coupons and marbles, coffee cans crammed with cracker jack toys strung together and fountain pen collections from desks of foreign dignitaries, furniture with whole families of passed on possums aboard, who surely thought they were only off to take a nap so many years ago when they had settled inside, never quite knowing it would be their last cuddle. Who knows how she found it all, but her home was a gathering spot for all of interest and then some.

The most impressive of her collection then was the ephemera. The paper ranged from the earliest of holiday postcards with children playing in the snow and held in valentine hearts, to some of a more personal nature, with sepia family of hers or another’s, There were comics from the newspapers of the 20s and 30s, books for children kept from the Victorian era, hand painted pictures and tintype photography. Not a day or moment passed in that entire six month period, where there wasn’t some fantastic treasure unearthed to write home about, wet my whistle and keep me interested in my job, life and love. Something about picking and prodding through another person’s life holds me captive, making me yearn for more knowledge of their journey and what made them tick.

I still see her heir. I still visit and laugh with her friend from church who was left to empty the homes, sheds and garages of Charlotte when she expired upon her covered porch so many years ago. I continue to keep up with her life and hear of her heritage, cling to stories of their friendship and absorb stories of their youths. To this day I wonder how her life kept her entertained, sure it was a whimsical one full of hunting and finding, captures and pack ratting for days on end. When I imagine the woman alive, whose things I relocated to so many other people’s homes, I imagine only a broad loving smile, a knowing glance, a warm and satiated heart.

Such is the life of a liquidator

Worth the wait

They’ll start picking numbers at six am. Some may have waited in line all night not knowing we had put them out early. Others will saunter by later hoping for good luck in finding a low count and being one of the first twenty to enter the dwelling. The ‘feeders’ we call them. Not bottom feeders, mind you, but ‘feeders’ just the same.

They come in masses to sample from the delicacies of our estate sales and liquidations. They drive long and far and bring with them wrapping, boxes and cash. They smile nervously as they ask for your best price on a gold watch, Dresden statue or ancient woodcarving. They ask for group discounts, bundle prices and bulk price gouges. We agree to any reasonable request. That’s what we are paid for, to make these things go away.

The most enjoyable part of the day will be when they are all settled and we quiet the storm. After six or seven groups of twenty (as the home is small and packed with treasures) have filtered throughout the beautiful home and bought what they longed for, could double in price, or could not live without.

Then is the time to re-new the spread. That is when all the busy little beavers I hire go through each room and clean, straighten, fold, dust, arrange, and make palatable every nook and cranny of the entire home, garage and porches, for tomorrows sale once more. With nothing going unnoticed or uncared for, these men and women are meticulous in their help for me. These are not just crew; they are some of my greatest friends. I have known them for years now.

We speak of family, lovers, friends and travels. We catch up on each other’s health, losses, business endeavors and dreams of late. This gathering of mostly women and a few of men, sit together to eat, drink, gather their steam and talk over the sale. What today will bring is anyone’s guess. What with the rules and regulations of this neighborhood we have already had notices to cease giving the sale. We cannot, as 80 years of collecting must be dispersed and a dumpster or donation is not the answer.

So I invite them over, in and back again. These clients of mine for years are all I have to depend on for a sale that cannot be advertised in the paper, through a sign, or on the general Internet. These people who have come to me for hundreds of sales in the past 20 years are back again today. How many is anyone’s guess. The more the merrier when it comes to unloading a packed premise.

I wonder though. Will it all be worth it in the end? The sorting, cleaning, organizing, researching and marketing. The whole shebang. Will the job be worth all the effort I am putting out to make this all worthwhile? My hopes are high. We have an awful lot of blood sweat and tears into this sale. Only time will tell. In three days the votes may be counted and I shall know the score.

The ‘boob’ tube

When I was a young girl theme songs from television series made me salivate for more. The song from Gilligan’s Island made me sure I would go to the tropics and giggle uncontrollably at the Captain and crush on the Professor. When the tune for My Three Sons came on I knew McMurray would coddle and adore his boys and that they would make him proud. By the time I caught a note of Courtship of Eddie’s Father, I was certain I would be in love with Bill Bixby for the next thirty minutes and counting.

I can still remember the way my neck would twist back and forth when Agent Ninety Nine spoke with Maxwell Smart. It takes me only a second to remember the mood that Uncle Bill gave me on Family Affair or the closeness I regained when I sat for an episode of the Waltons. Those shows and others kept me safe and warm as a young girl and when I am reminded of those days via a vintage lunch pail, coloring book or toy of old it makes me happy and nostalgic.

In my line of work this happens quite frequently. You pick up a box to sort and Wham! Before you know it you are reading Johnny Quest or Land of the Giants, Flipper appears or maybe Gentle Ben. All of these actors I knew intimately, or they made you feel you did. Those children and trained adults (even the pets) had a knack of making you feel a part of the show didn’t they? I just loved the time you spent in front of that ‘boob’ tube as we called it, handed down from my Dad. “Don’t sit too close to the ‘boob tube’ or you’ll go blind.” He’d tell us, time and time again.

Do you remember how your mind had you trained with songs on record albums to remember and expect one after the other and so forth? That is just how I remember shows on T.V. Sunday night you got to see Ed Sullivan, Walt Disney and occasionally later Andy Rooney. On Monday it was the Waltons and Mary Tyler Moore. Love Boat held my attention on Thursday but only after a good dose of Mash or Hogan’s Heroes. My assumption is that every county or city had a different schedule but maybe not, who knows.

My point is that these shows and the memories of them are an integral part of who I am. This morning more than ever, as I sit at my desk with items to research and sell like a Flipper metal lunch pail, a comic book of Casper and Lulu, Stories written by the Beatles and records recorded by Les Baxter, I am taken back in time. To a quieter and more subtle place. A colder climate and greener surrounding. I am brought back in years to knee socks and tube tops, hair barrettes and freckles on my nose. A time when all I could muster…was a smile.