Another Bit Of My Children’s Youth Retired

Gentle reader, this week I retired my children’s diaper bag.

It’s not as though the lads have actually used diapers for five or six years now. However, since then, I’ve kept a change of clothing for each of them along with some first aid stuff and some wet wipes in the bag and have kept the bag in the back of the truck for emergencies. In the last five years, we’ve used the contents of the bag just once: A nosebleed at the nature center required a bit of clean-up and a new shirt. But I’ve kept up with the bag, swapping out clothing every year or so to ensure the sizes were up-to-date.

But we carry a number of gym bags often now to hold the children’s gis, and they often have a change of dirty clothes within them. And when it’s time to go shopping, we take out the bags to make room for the grocery. A couple of months ago, I didn’t put the diaper bag back in the back of the truck after unloading the groceries. It stayed on the garage floor until recently, when I decommissioned it.

It still held a large plastic bag full of diaper wipes probably from the actual diaper era. It also held a couple changes of clothes, where the largest were “new” clothing for my youngest child, and the smallest were hand-me-overs for another family. I found an emery board bearing the name of a candidate who lost a primary in 2010 and some Bactine that went into the bathrooms. But no bottle in the insulated pouch. A little bit of change to throw into the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League box.

And the diaper bag itself is bundled with other donations. Hopefully, someone will find it in a thrift shop and get some utility from it.

Me, I’m releasing an artifact from the time when I would push the oldest in a stroller for hours in Old Trees, Missouri. Before his brother came along and decided he could not be confined in a stroller or car seat for more than twenty minutes without inconsolable wailing. Ai, they were so young once, and so was I.

The Human Torch Is Passed

So as I was digging through boxes in the store room for this post, I came across a box of old comic books not in poly bags. As I glanced in the box, I saw many were without covers, and I thought they were the old Gold Key and Harvey comics from my Great Aunt Laura.

When my mother and her sisters were young, they’d go spend the night with Laura from time to time. Somehow, they ended up with a stack of comic books in the non-super hero genres, with a lot of Richie Rich, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, and Wendy the Friendly Witch series along with some Disney comics. When we ended up in the St. Louis area in the middle 1980s, as I was beginning what they call Middle School down here but Junior High in Milwaukee, my brother and I ended up with this well-worn collection, many of which were missing covers and whatnot. I thought I’d rediscovered them.

So I mentioned them to my oldest, who is eight years old and ready to begin reading comic books. And I cracked open the box last night to find that the box contained not my Aunt Laura’s old comics, but my comic books from my elementary school years.

My elementary school comics

Allow me to explain.

I have several boxes of comics neatly organized and in poly bags. These comics come from my high school and college years (and beyond), when I wanted to organize them and take care of them. I had thought I’d gone through and bagged my whole collection a decade ago, but….

This box contains books I bought at the drug store when I was living in the projects, when I could sometimes scratch together a buck to buy a comic. Or, more likely, I’d scratch up a buck and buy a poly bag with three remaindered comic books (you see, it’s not only my music collection that was built on grab bags). Because I was ten years old, and because some of the remaindered books already had their covers partially removed for the retailer refund, these books got read over and over and worn out.

So they now look like my Aunt Laura’s did then. Except these are older to my children than those comics were to me when I got them.

So I bagged up the ones with covers, and I’m considering letting my child(ren) read through the others.

It’s not easy, of course: Although they’re falling apart, they’re relics from my childhood that my children will, in all likelihood, destroy by sleeping on them, walking on them, fighting over them, and whatnot.

Even now as I glance through them, my eyes catch a panel or the title, and I remember the story clearly and even some of the other panels within them.

Of course, my aunts did not have these qualms in passing their childhood comics along. They were just comics, and my mother and her sisters were adults. But I’m a 21st century adult, which is closer to 20th century child than 20th century adult. So I’m going to give them to my children, but I’m going to have to read them again first.

Sure, I’m a pack rat, but some days that pays off in finding something treasured and only half-remembered amid the piles of clutter I can barely walk through.

An Old Timey OS Throwdown

On Facebook, a friend posted a picture of a copy of Windows 98 Update in its original retail packaging. Not to be outdone by any poser who would pretend to be a hoarder, I proffered the following collection:

20 years of Windows

That’s Windows 95, Windows 98 SE, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000, Windows XP Home, and Windows XP Professional. All within easy reach.

So some other poser put up a picture of Solaris 2.6. Well, all right, then, if we’re defenestrating, have a look at this bad boy:

GEOS 2.0

That’s GEOS 2.0, a circa 1986 GUI for Commodore 64 users who wanted their C64s to look like a Macintosh. Although this was not in reach, I retrieved it from storage in about five minutes of digging through boxes, an exploration that showed me I have two copies of Bard’s Tale for the Commodore 64. But only two copies for five Commodore 64s and a Commodore 128. I must fix this balance by finding more copies of The Bard’s Tale.

I could not, however, find the copy of CP/M Plus from 1983 that came bundled with my first Commodore 128 for people who wanted their Commodores to look like a PC. I must have included it when I sold my first Commodore 128 (WHAT! You sold a computer? Well, I was young, and I needed the money).

So what’s the oldest operating system you’ve got, son?

Out of My Cups

On Saturday, I looked through the one of the glass-fronted kitchen cabinet doors, and I saw a number of plastic coffee mugs within the cabinet, and I thought Man, I don’t drink out of those. I don’t like the taste of coffee in plastic. Why don’t I get rid of them?

They’ve been with me a long time. I’ve moved most of them at least four times, and most of them date from the middle 1990s. But that is my wont, to keep things if they’re functional things or have some sort of meaning to me. But, man, these are plastic coffee mugs, for crying out loud.

There were four in the cabinet, and I ultimately decided to divest myself of two:

The divested coffee cups

On the left, we have a coffee cup from a coffee shop that was briefly at the Third Street entrance to the Grand Avenue Mall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I picked that up at a GenCon I attended. As if I needed another memento of the things other than photos of me half naked and painted blue.

On the right, we have a mug that was part of a care package that my mother sent to me during a finals week in college. The package must have come with some candy and other trinkets; the mug itself says Official Mug of the Finals Week Survivor. Which makes it particularly estrange that I am actually parting with it: It is something I received from not only a departed family member, but my mom. I think I’ve drunk coffee from it once or twice, but, as I mentioned, I don’t really like plastic coffee mugs.

So out with these guys.

I’ll keep these guys:

The divested coffee cups

On the left, a large insulated mug with the Marquette Warriors logo on it. My mother bought one for herself and one for me my graduation weekend in 1994. This was my work coffee cup for many years at a number of jobs because its size meant I could take half a pot of coffee to my desk at a time. Maybe the repeated use killed the plastic taste, or maybe it was constructed of better quality plastic, but this one doesn’t bother me when I drink from it. The scent of those years of coffee and those tears of toil linger in it. Mostly the coffee. Not that I have recently, of course, since I work from home when I work. 1993-1994 was the last year that Marquette used the Warrior mascot, so this one is a collector’s item. And a personal relic.

On the right, an insulated Milwaukee Brewers mug from the 20th season in 1989. I don’t remember if I went to the game. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I have any memories of this mug at all. I’m not sure how I came to own it. I might have palmed it as I left my father’s house after living there during college. Well, no, that’s not my style. Maybe I went to the game and have repressed it. I did go to a couple of games in that era at Milwaukee County Stadium when the Brew Crew was at the bottom of the American League.

Because these two have sports teams logos on them, I took them from the cabinet and put them on display behind the bar in the basement, along side a couple of Packers cups and my single beer stein. They’re actual personal relics, not drinking vessels. And the preceding two will be donated either to a charity thrift shop or to a church garage sale where they can languish, unbought, on the table with the myriad other coffee cups that one finds, unsold, at these things. But at least it won’t be me who throws them out, ultimately.

But I do consider the scenario where, after civilization has collapsed, I find myself at the edge of a creek having to cup the dirty water with my hands because back in 2012 I was so short-sighted to have disposed of perfectly good drinking vessels. WHAT A FOOL I WAS!

Personal Relics: My Father’s Bat

You don’t hear much about my father on this blog, mostly because my parents divorced when I was a lad and I ended up in Missouri with my mother and her family instead of Wisconsin. I don’t have many mementos from my father, as he remarried, so when he passed away, I didn’t receive any of his effects.

But before he passed away, even before my parents divorced, when I was a boy, he gave me his childhood baseball bat.

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Personal Relics: My Grandfather’s Jacket

Over the weekend, my children attended a birthday party and got temporary tattoos with a nautical theme as befit a pair of pirates. So Daddy talked a little extraneously extemporaneously about tattoos, and how members of the military often got them, including their Uncle Kevin and their great-grandfather Raymond. Ray, my grandfather, had a blue Marine bulldog on his arm, marred by the scar where he’d been shot while helping take Okinawa.

Suddenly, I thought to go to the coat closet and bring out a bit of history for them: My grandfather’s jacket*. Continue reading “Personal Relics: My Grandfather’s Jacket”

Personal Relics: The Gym Gear

Growing up, I was always the scrawny, gangly, gawky nerd kind.  I had glasses since I was five years old, I lacked some basic motor skills, and I didn’t have much musculature.  So I only took the requisite gym classes and that was that.

Sometime in the middle of my adulthood, I started going to the gym.  In my middle twenties, I got hold of a weight set and pumped a little iron while I lived in my mother’s basement.  My stunning physique, or at least my physique and my knowledge of Objectivism and poetry, landed me a hot chick girlfriend who liked to go to the gym.  So I started.  But first I had to look around for some essential gymming gear.  And I had what I needed at hand:

My gym gear

When I moved from my aunt’s basement in St. Charles, Missouri, to a mobile home in Jefferson County, I switched from a middle school that had gym in street clothes to a middle school that had a gym in gym clothes.  That meant I had to acquire a pair of blue shorts and a lock for the locker.  Coach Haug, the gym teacher, sold both, and for $5 I got this green-dialed lock.

It served me in middle school, in high school, and then got dropped in a set of boxes and/or drawers until I returned to the gym.  I’ve used it at the Mid-County YMCA in St. Louis County, the Edward Jones YMCA, Gold’s Gym, the Webster Groves YMCA, and now the Pat Jones YMCA.  It’s guaranteed to be the only green lock in the locker room, which means I’ll never lose my daily locker.  And I haven’t had to learn another combination in 25 years.

The gym bag isn’t that old.  As you can see by its side, it commemorates Super Bowl XXIV (24 in American).  I didn’t get the bag from the pizza company.  Christmas, 1990, was my freshman year in college, and I worked at a grocery store (Gold’s Shop Rite).  The Golds were known for their great Christmas party, and 1990 was my first (and only).  It was a snowy night in Milwaukee, as so many are in December.  Patti C (“Does the C stand for “Cakes?” I’d asked when she started) drove Shawn and I the five blocks to hall the company rented.  There, some dancing occurred, and an easily led young me performed the Worm for co-workers with the guys from Produce, who I thought were the coolest guys in the world when I was 18.  When I was 19, I was in Produce, and I was right when I was younger.

During college, I looped the handles of this bag through the back straps of my backpack and the two served as my luggage when I travelled by train between Milwaukee and Missouri.  Then it sat in a closet for a couple of years, brought out occasionally to supplement my luggage for travel between Missouri and Milwaukee.  Since I’ve gotten back to the gym, it’s born my clothes, the lock, gloves, and magazines exclusively.

Both of these articles are in good shape, as well as one could expect with fairly frequent use in infrequent bursts of fitness diligence on my part.  They’ve lasted me 25 and 20 years respectively; there’s really no reason why they won’t last another 20 or so.

The Raiments Of My Ancestors

Whenever someone in the family passes away, I seem to get some collection of clothing to wear. I have shirts from my father-in-law who passed away a decade ago (in retrospect, he was my father-in-law for a very short time). When my wife’s uncle passed away a couple years ago, I got a number of his shirts, too. Although he had shorter arms than I do, I tend to wear them rolled up, so no problem. Heck, even when my mother passed away a year and a half ago, I found some t-shirts and flannel shirts that she’d bought at garage sales that were large enough for me to wear. So I haven’t bought a casual button up shirt in about a decade.

That said, there are several articles I’ve received from my ancestors that I own but will not wear.
Continue reading “The Raiments Of My Ancestors”