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January 21, 2015

Looking Back: “The Attic”

Attics can be a storage place for memories as well as objects.

In our home “things” have been put into our attic for 70 years. Throwing out objects is easy. Throwing out memories is difficult. However, it was time to clean out the plethora of items that occupied our attic.

It all began in the 1940s when my parents stored my bassinet, crib and playpen in the attic. When I was a young girl the attic was a magical place for me and my friends. On rainy days we would take our dolls up there and take advantage of all my baby furniture. Our dolls got bathed in the bassinet, laid in the crib to sleep and then were placed in the playpen while we found something else to entertain us.

Over time the bassinet material became totally rotted. A baby placed inside would have plummeted to the floor. The safety elements of the crib and playpen would have been frowned upon by modern safety standards. Yet there they sat in our attic for years! After disassembling them we slid them down the attic stairs and they are gone.

Besides the obvious items that were visible, there were also stored objects that were a mystery. I really had no idea of exactly what I would find. So with some prompting from my husband we decided it was time to investigate and clean house.

But what was in these cartons, bags and even an old suitcase?

The first surprise was a carton of carefully-wrapped, etched dessert plates, cups and saucers. I vaguely remember my mother telling me back in the 1970s that a relative who was ill wanted her to have them. As beautiful as they were I knew I would never use them. I had them appraised and after learning that their value was more sentimental than financial, I donated them for a charity auction.

An old suitcase held photos of people I had never seen. A “family-only value” has been assigned to them and they remain in the suitcase. I will most likely never know who these people are, since my mother and relatives from her era are now deceased. Unfortunately, like many young people, I didn’t care about family history until it was too late to learn it.

Two large cartons held books. My preferences in childhood reading passed before my eyes as I went from Golden Books to Honey Bunch and Nancy Drew. Fortunately, I knew just what to do with those. A local church was wrapping packages of books to give to needy children as Christmas gifts. I was thrilled to think that someone would enjoy those stories just as I had.

Another box contained my school memorabilia. Seeing my grade school report cards verified that I was well behaved and a good student. Obviously, my mother experienced too much nostalgia to throw those out. And guess what, so did I.

The bags held old receipts, cancelled checks (yes, they used to send those to you) and miscellaneous papers. Those went to a safe shredding day sponsored by AARP.

You probably get the picture by now. “Things” kept going into the attic but not much was coming out! Because I am an “out of sight, out of mind” person, it took a while for my husband to convince me to let go of some of the personal history that the attic held.

Is our attic totally cleaned out? Not quite. There is still one annoying object left up there. It’s a heavy old bathroom sink that would require four people to remove it. My husband and I looked at the sink and then looked at each other. We then uttered words often said by my cousin Loyola: “Let’s leave it for the next guy!”

My husband is anxiously waiting to see if I start filling up the attic again. Stay tuned!

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1 Comment

  • Mary Ellen: that did bring back memories for I too played in the attic which was unheated so weather determined when I would be up there. But what a magical place. There was an old telephone table and chair which made it a bit homey. There were old clothes and shoes belonging to my mother which were used for dress up. There was one window which was at the front so a great place to survey the neighborhood. Thanks and look forward to more of your remembrances.
    mj

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