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Yesterday’s treasures, today’s trash?

By T.J. Ray

What to do? What to do? What to do? With what, you ask. Stuff! That’s the best answer I have. A litany of the multitude of things that come under that rubric would be tedious and boring. Let me clarify.

In my guest room is a box full of counted-cross stitch patterns. I’ve done a few of the designs but the books are essentially brand new. Above them on a high shelf is a plastic box with dozens of skeins of needle point yarn. I offered them to the teacher at the high school who teaches sewing, but the answer was No.

A large box in my workshop is filled with scale model kits: tanks, planes, ships, etc. At one point the guest room ceiling was adorned with assembled planes, mostly World War II vintage. Sadly, a house fire melted those. It’s unlikely that a new one has been assembled since that day in 1977.

If you’re wondering where this is going, let me explain. First, it seems that folks (usually female) don’t do cross-stitch. Nostalgically, I recall when my grandma and mom taught me to embroidery. Those quiet afternoons under the oak outside our house were very pleasant. Second, young people are more interested in digital things and ignore anything that doesn’t run a few gigabytes. Try to get one of them interested in slowly and carefully putting together the parts of a plastic airplane or ship. Might it be that an absolute ignorance of the past is at work? As they have no memory of life before yesterday, they’re not likely to build models of B-17’s or battleships.

Finally, the stacks of long-playing records lurk in the storeroom and under my computer table. My bet is there are albums that have never been played more than once. As almost no one place 33 1/3 discs anymore, it’s not likely I can find a taker for my batch, even though it ranges from some nice classical records to various music genres my son was prone to prefer as he was growing up.

But back to my problem: what do I do with all the sewing books and the model kits?

There is no hobby shop where I might put up a notice that they can be had. Once I was able to pass the military kits on the ROTC folks at the University, but don’t think that would work these days. The only sewing group I know is the quilter group. Thus I have a sort of treasure that no one cares to dig. I’ve thought of running an ad in the paper, but the cost of ads is way beyond my means.

And to make matters worse, I’m getting older by the day, fast approaching that time when someone else will inherit these things. Truth is, many of us have stuck stuff in nooks and crannies and attics —and forgotten them. Can it simply be that yesterday’s treasures have become today’s trash?

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.