This column appears in over 30 papers in the South. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the amount of messages I receive and from where they come.
Often, they’re related to a previous column and the person writing shares a memory or story that was stirred by what they read.
It’s one of the main reasons I write. To stir memories. Especially the good ones.
Recently, I was contacted by two readers who not only lived near each other, they also lived near me. That’s unusual. It’s not uncommon to receive an email from a reader who lives hours away.
One had some old radios he wanted to find homes for. He’d read a column about repairing old radios and decided that the family’s three units belonged with someone who could bring them back.
We arranged to meet. After taking a closer look, I determined one has a chance at playing again, and the others are display pieces.
They’ll all likely wind up in the Texas Broadcast Museum in Kilgore, Texas.
The other reader had record albums that were no longer being heard. As often happens, people have lots of vinyl, but their record player no longer works.
That was the case here.
Records haven’t been made in significant quantities for almost 40 years. Even so, there are still millions of them out there.
It’s tough to find a home for old records. They’re a bit like old radios. But I hate to see either of them trashed. So if I can connect people and their collections with museums or collectors, I’ll do it.
In this case the vinyl was unique. They’re all 78 rpm and all classical music. Many are pre-WWII. They’re packaged like important books, with the composer’s names embossed on the box covers of each set.
Symphonies and sonatas were put together with great care. The packaging is reminiscent of the encyclopedias our parents bought for us at $10 a month for 10 years.
When I arrived to meet the family who had the vinyl, my plan to pick up the records and be on my way was short lived. They were preparing for a sale. The kind we’ll all have eventually.
Usually, when you encounter someone selling or dispensing a family member’s possessions, they’re no longer here to tell you about the items. This was different.
The matriarch of the family was preparing to part with some of her possessions.
I don’t know the reason the decision to downsize had been made. I was just glad to see a family working together to do it.
My interest in saving the records led to discussions of other items she had. She proudly showed them off and gave the history of each one.
There was a cast iron skillet her father had given her to fry chicken. Her daughter had no idea her mom even had it. Instead of it being sold, it’s now staying in the family.
There was a tabletop radio that had lived for years on the kitchen counter. Her husband used to come in at noon each day to turn it on and hear Paul Harvey.
And there was a two-man cross cut saw hanging in the very back of the garage. If it could only talk.
An hour and a half after I had intended to leave, I finally did. As I drove into the rest of my day, I thought of how glad I was I’d stayed to talk.
Instead of items being priced and sold, they’ll likely be examined and discussed first.
All of us have what we have because it’s important to us. Seldom do we label things or share with family the back story on where something came from and why it matters to us.
A simple tag or label can clearly relay your intentions for who you want to receive a specific item. Your wishes can be written in a notebook or your words recorded on a video.
I’ve experienced this clarity personally after losing my father. There were things he had made clear by telling us his wishes. But that wasn’t the case with everything.
When you make all of your wishes known, you’re clearly communicating your intentions and giving yourself peace of mind.
And sometimes, engaging someone who just wants to see things stay around and find the right home isn’t a bad idea.
All things have a story. And they’re no longer just things when you know the stories they tell.
©2023 John Moore
John’s books, Puns for Groan People and Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website – TheCountryWriter.com, where you can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.