Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 19, 2021


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Question, a hoarder or collector?

The Fred Sanford decor

by Mary Vigasin


Setting up our first household, our decor style was a hodgepodge of country, casual, and mostly anything that we found in a used furniture store. However, our decorating style over the years has evolved into one specific type. I call it the Fred Sanford design. Fred and his son in the old 70's comedy, Sanford and Son starring Red Foxx were junk dealers, and the scenery of their living room reflected their occupation.

In every room in our house, even in the basement, there is the constant collective ticking, chiming, and bonging of clocks.

There are for starters, 26 in the living room of assorted sizes and shapes, 20 in the master bedroom with 8 being Anniversary clocks. We have 12 glass domes in the house altogether.
The spare bedroom is where Mickey Mouse and the Cat in the Hat live, each is competing as to which clicking sound is loudest as they tick away the seconds. Their competition, however, is outdone by the clock playing Christmas tunes on the hour.
In the house, 3 pendulum devices chime on the hour. One of those was bought years ago as our only clock at the time. On a trip to Pennsylvania, we loved how ornate it was, and we called it our foreign clock since it was made in Korea.
When we eat dinner, 4 factory kitchen clocks tell us the time. One of the 3 in the basement chimes like Big Ben, I can hear it through the floorboards.
There is an 18-inch Beatle timepiece that separates in two on the hour and with flashing lights plays a Beatle tune. Luckily, this one went back in the closet after using too many D cell batteries.
On the closet door outside the bedroom is a 12-inch Keno clock.

It is not that our house is large. It is the size of a bungalow without the charm or a single Cape Cod home without the beach or the Cape.

You see, my husband collects clocks. He buys at yard sales and thrift stores, and then cleans, and restores them.
Each time he has a new purchase, he asks me where to hang or place a new clock, I stare at him blankly as there is no more room as every shelf and wall is full. His standard line is: "Let me know when you think of a place." There must be 10 clocks waiting for me to think of a spot for the new arrival.
With 60 or more clocks to change to Daylight Savings, it is usually a 3-day job. It is a little unsettling if during the day, I look at one that has not to be adjusted and for a moment it throws me off. My Hello Kitty clock still shows the old hour.

In another collectible hobby, my husband has nearly just as many tube radios dating around the 1940s and 1950s on nearly every available shelf and bookcase around the house. I counted 21 in the living room alone. There are 4 console radios with 2 in the master bedroom. These radios have not been touched in years, however, recently, he has been testing each radio again. With that new sparkle in his eye, I fear that he will start again collecting radios again. The only space left on the shelves for any new items is my own collection of the cremated remains of my 6 cats.

Each room in the house has at least 2 or more barometers and thermometers. The one on the back porch seems to be stuck at 20 degrees. What I find most disturbing is when the weather alert radio gives off a loud siren to tell me that there is a storm advisory, that is, for one brewing 100 miles offshore.

The question then becomes is my husband a hoarder or a collector?

We have in the basement wrapped in plastic, a 5-foot Santa Clause. It is an expensive well-dressed Santa who yells out Merry Christmas as you pass by. He was discarded by someone because his right arm, instead of waving, flails wildly up and down as well as side to side. My hubby carried the tossed-out Kris Kringle a mile to our house. Since he celebrates Hanukkah, our perfectly dressed tenant has only been dragged out of his basement nook once in the five years he has resided in our basement.
Our well-dressed tenant is not alone, he has friends with him. In the 1940s and 1950s plastic Christmas lawn figures were popular.
His friends include a large 4-foot rotund unbreakable plastic snowman with a carrot nose that keeps falling off, and he is wearing a top hat. Standing by a lamp post are a much smaller man and woman carolers. Both their lamp and they will light up when plugged in. A faded plastic Santa stands on an old school desk, his light is now dimmed. However, the white robe and the gold wings of the angel standing next to Santa will still light up.

My husband has a small attic room; we dubbed the music room. He has a vast collection of albums, 45's, cassette tapes, and even reel to reel tapes. These are truly collectibles. It is the three closets full of spare turntables, CD players and amplifiers, wires, and extension cords that I question along with an old black manual typewriter. I have a trunk in the back of the crawl space that we placed there when we first moved in. It has not been opened in 25 years as the pathway to it is blocked with assorted spare parts for the radios, clocks, and other electronic gadgets. I am left to wonder just what exactly is in that trunk after all this time. I guess the only way I will ever know is for us to move to a new house.
When I do mention getting to it, he tells me there is just too much to move aside
Some of his spares have spilled over into the master bedroom. Next to my side of the bed, there are 3 boxes of cheap turntables that were bought on sale.
If he finds one square foot of open space, it gets filled quickly with an old gadget, old receiver, clock, or radio.
There are some 50 books collecting dust that he holds on to expecting to read again someday. I have only 10.
We still have videotapes stored away that we recorded years ago. He will not let them go.
A few years ago for a birthday gift, I had built in the backyard a structure of latticework where we could sit outside and dine. The roof was covered with grapevine leaves, and it would make a perfect garden setting. That romantic idea lasted one season, it is now occupied with tarps, ladders, old milk crates, and one large plastic igloo. If I wanted to sit out there now, I would have to pull out one of the old crates and use the igloo for a table.

On trash day, if he spots an item being tossed out, like a cartoon character, his eyes bulge out wildly, I then quickly speed up the car. Luckily, if it is a piece of furniture, I can say that we have no more room for any furniture, which is true.

I bet not too many people have the skull of a steer on their basement wall or have 3 bikes in the garage that have not been ridden in at least 25 years.
I could start a catering business with the 3 sets of dishes that have not seen the light of day, since they were found some 30 years ago.
There must be some value in keeping a dozen empty coffee, dish, or detergent containers.

Tossing anything away is near impossible as it "It might come in handy someday. "or "It will be a collectible one day."
It is possible that one of his treasures will be a collectible someday. The only problem with this premise is that it may take 50 to 100 years.
I will wait around to see if these do become collectibles.

Once or twice a year, an item he saved to come in handy someday actually does. I mumble to him how smart he was in being so forward in his thinking, and that it was a good thing he saved it. There are only about 100 items that were saved for the same purpose.
The one thing that allows some relief is when I suggest that we donate an item to charity. If someone gets some use out of it, he will give the item up.

There is even a cycle of life for his clothes. He always wears flannel shirts, and we have what we call his "dress" flannels when they are new and his "house" flannels as they get older. The "dress" becomes "house" when they get worn out. He will then cut the sleeves above the elbow and wear them down. But there is a third life for these clothes. He will cut the buttons off as "They may come in handy someday," and saves the worn-out shirt as a cleaning rag. At last count, we have 10 of these cloths.

While he can fix a delicate clock mechanism or repair a radio, my husband is far from being a handyman. The evidence of 6 stitches in his hand and polishing the stairs with bowling wax years ago is proof of that. Yet he has a workshop full of tools and has added more over the years. For any one screw, he has 10 screwdrivers, and or every nail, 5 hammers.

I would prefer that the only screwdriver he has in his hand is one mixed with orange juice.

So not to be finger-pointing in one direction only, I am only slightly guilty of contributing to the clutter. Having 100 CD's I have only watched one of these movies in three years and that was Lobsterman from Mars. With about 100 CDs, I only listen to about 20 of them on a regular basis. Each of these "collectibles" gets more activity when the shelves are dusted.

I have enough ornaments and lights to supply the White House Christmas trees. If I used even half of them on my own tree, their weight would topple it over. I bought a light-up village to display, however, after buying each piece separately, I have never used it as I prefer to display my large gold reindeers with artificial trees with white lights on the mantle. The clocks, of course, must be moved for the holidays.
For four years, I was making and selling silk floral arrangements, and I gave up the hobby.
Unfortunately, I am left with a basement full of glass. I have holders shaped like cats, hippos, and bunnies. There is an assortment for Spring, Fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. My Halloween collection consists of Jack-O-Lanterns, skulls, and witches. I must not forget to mention the unsold arrangements doting each kitchen and basement windows as well as those I bring upstairs to move around the house depending on the time of year. I will have to soon bring up the Spring collection to replace the dusty winter flowers.

The only saving grace of Covid 19 is that it has kept him (and me) away from thrift stores.

We have an old fashion turn of century telephone. It is too heavy even to lift, let alone hang on our plaster walls, so it lays flat on the old steel desk left behind by the former owner.
The large steel desk is 1 of 2 that hubby could not pass up the offer to let them stay in the basement when we bought the house. Like everything else, the desk drawers are full of saved items.
If rotary dial phones ever come back, we are sitting on a goldmine!



Oddballs and Eccentrics contest entry


Console radios are radios set in large wooden cabinets. Anniversary clocks are protected by a glass dome covering the clock mechanisms.
The clock in the picture sits on my mantle.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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© Copyright 2021. Mary Vigasin All rights reserved.
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