Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Treasures of the basement often have special value

What’s in your basement?

I didn’t ask what’s in your wallet because that sounds too much like a TV commercial. Moreover, it’s none of my business what’s in your wallet, and I really don’t care what’s in there.

But basements are different. What’s there is a matter of interest to every red-blooded American who cares about the stuff we store away for future reference, and possible use.

Attics fall under the same category. Backyard storage sheds — not so much.

So let’s limit the conversation to basements and possibly attics.

I have asked a lot of people what is in their basements and received a wide variety of answers. Only one person said money, but I think when he moved from Willoughby to Willoughby Hills he removed the money and either spent it or put it in the bank.

Bob Riggin talked about emptying his pockets every night and putting his loose coins — no folding money — in coffee cans.

You can put a lot of change in a coffee can. But I think when he built his new house it was not practical to transport coffee cans full of money.

He had enough trouble moving a couple million photo negatives. And to think they hardly even make film any more!

Computers have so thoroughly taken over the world that every picture ever taken on film could probably be put on a digital chip or two.

But I digress.

I have made previous references to the storehouse of music I have in my basement. You may think that is all I have down there.

And it is true that I have enough 78rpm records, LPs, 45s and CDs that, if every song were played end-to-end, the unending stream of music would last forever — or perhaps longer.

Let’s put it this way: If you put “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” on the turntable the day it was first recorded by Glenn Miller, the music of all the other songs in the basement would still be playing without interruption or indication of ever ceasing.

I got to thinking about this as I was thumbing through records looking for theme songs of Old Time Radio Soap Operas.

I got a lot of mail on that topic, and will have more to say about it soon. A lot of readers remember those days, sharing recollections of programs I seldom listened to.

But band leaders Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton have a lot of neighbors down there in the basement.

There are volumes and volumes of books I have collected on any number of topics, including humor, sports, history, politics and things that intrigue me, such as the history of pi.

If you thought pi had no history you would be wrong. It has a long, colorful history, and I don’t just mean pi to 20 places.

No, it doesn’t stop at 3.14159. It goes on and on. In fact, it never really stops. I only know pi to 20 places, and it is useful when making up passwords. But it is much longer than that.

It goes on to infinity – and possibly beyond, if you can believe that.

There are also a lot of clothes in the basement. Fortunately, we have a very large basement. It is about the size of J.C. Penney.

I hate to get rid of Army clothes. They do not have any bullet holes, because I never saw combat. But there are probably some rips and tears acquired in what became famously known as “The Battle of Cowhouse Creek” at Fort Hood, Texas.

The lady of the house would be pleased if I would get rid of some of the clothing I will never wear again.

She is probably thinking of items that were so popular in the days of the disco craze. I have already shed the leisure suits, although I hated to do it.

The late, great sportswriter Hal Lebowitz and I were both fond of leisure jackets because of their supreme comfort and attractiveness.

Alas, I think they will never come back.

But I did get rid of my cheap orange suit, similar to the one Abe Abraham wore at the old Municipal Stadium when catching extra points at Browns’ games.

I bought it for $19 after six weeks of basic training at Fort Hood when we were permitted for the first time to wear civilian clothes off the post.

A bunch of us from the 18th Training Company went into town and headed for a movie. It was “Ruby Gentry.” We were all so tired we slept through it.

But it pops up now and then on Turner Classic Movies and so I recorded it. Every time I watch it, it reminds me of basic training, and taking my M-1 rifle apart blindfolded.

Shooting it blindfolded was not recommended.

I didn’t get around to telling you about the hundreds of video tapes of old movies. Thankfully, I still have a machine I can play them on.

But I never watch movies in the basement, so I guess they will just sit there, gathering dust, for the next few millennia.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a 8mm & 16mm silent movie projector that my father-in-law had. plus his old film reels. Looked at them once, but the "silence was deafening"! I save the change in left in my pockets at the end of the day. But I keep the pennies in separate piggy banks that I collect. I am now working on filling a pink piggy bank that is the size of a gallon of milk. I calculated that it will hold about $35.00 in pennies. I also save singles daily. It is amazing how fast one can accumulate $100.00 in singles. Always enjoy gong to the bank with banded one dollar bills and exchanging them for C-notes.

October 13, 2013 at 6:01 AM 

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