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Don Gately: Confessions of a packrat

Posted: March 22, 2009 1:01 a.m.
Updated: March 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Maybe it's because I was born during the Depression and we were poor, but I have a hard time - a very hard time - getting rid of anything that once had value. Maybe I'll need it again.

For example, I once held a garage sale. The only thing I sold was a pair of restbacks for the beach. Hadn't used them for years.
The very next week I decided I wanted to go to the beach and wished I had them back.

I've lived next to a golf course for 36 years. Played maybe a dozen times. Don't much care for the game. So why not sell the cart and clubs I bought when I moved here?

I don't know - maybe some day somebody will ask me to play and I'll want to.

I have lots of camping equipment, but I only go camping once a year - by motorcycle - so when I do, I don't drag along the old Coleman stove and I only take one of the three or four sleeping bags in the garage.

Still, get rid of all that stuff? I don't think so.

I have a stationary bicycle. Never use it. The wife says, "Get rid of it. It's taking up space."

But maybe some day I'll get ambitious and use it again.

There are plenty of old medicines in my bathroom. Most of them are well past their expiration dates - but I guess they would probably still work if I ever needed them.

Talk about clothes - I have nearly a dozen suits. They're mostly out of style, and I would have a hard time getting the pants around my waist.

Moths - or just rot - have eaten pinholes in a few embarrassing spots. I only wear a suit maybe once a year since I retired, and these suits take up a lot of space in the closet.

But I think I'll keep them a while longer, even though most are at least 30 years old.

And neckties - I got rid of a couple of dozen to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or whomever a couple of years ago. But I kept a couple of dozen. Who knows? They might come in handy one day.

I have a collection of old Playboys in boxes in the garage, dating back to the '60s. I always figured when I got old I would take them out and look at the cartoons and jokes.

Well, I'm 75 now and a new Playboy arrives every month, which I never seem to get around to finishing.

I've got dozens of Readers Digests waiting to be read. Plus, we get about a dozen magazines every month. And books - I've got more than a hundred.

Yet I always have a hard time finding one I really want to read.

I've kept maybe a hundred old "LPs" - record albums. For you young folks, that's what we had before CDs, before cassettes (I've got a ton of those, too, most of which nobody has listened to in probably 20 years) and before eight-tracks. What are eight-tracks, you say? Never mind. At least I don't have any of those.

My file cabinets are crammed full of drawers of old manuscripts - screenplays, a couple of novels, short stories. No one bought them, but they represent hours, weeks, months of my time and labor.

Surely I shouldn't throw them away. Nor all those unanswered letters to agents and publishers.

And even though I've been married for almost 20 years, I still have the telephone numbers of ladies I used to know.

Who knows. Maybe some day they will come in handy.

Don Gately is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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