The Stuff in Grandma’s Attic, Writ Large

Those of us who’ve reached a certain age and gone through de-cluttering know how hard it is. Some of the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years is objectively valuable — which isn’t the same as saying that family and friends want it handed down. Some is sentimentally valuable — ditto on whether anyone wants it. Some is intrinsically meaningful, and just not something that should be put in the donations bin, although it’s hard to know what to do with it — like the flag that was on Jerry’s coffin, still folded as it was the day I took it home from the cemetery.

Now take that drama of what to do with a lifetime of acquisitions and write it large, as in the historical record of a city. I retain an interest in my former hometown of Rochester NY, and get an online publication called The Beacon. The Beacon has an article about the Rochester Historical Society, which can no longer afford to maintain its extensive collection and is struggling over what to do. However many things you might be juggling, the Rochester Historical Society has 200,000 — some of which require climate controlled storage.

Back in the heyday of Eastman Kodak, Xerox, French’s Mustard, The May Company, Bausch & Lomb, Rochester was a wealthy city and someone might have stepped up to finance the collection. But that’s not going to happen now, nor are the city or state likely to weigh in.

Getting rid of my own stuff was hard enough, and I’m glad this isn’t my problem.

2 thoughts on “The Stuff in Grandma’s Attic, Writ Large

  1. We have been in our home for 35 years. We have lots of “stuff,” not only our things, but an attic full of our daughter Melissa’s things which she had to store after downsizing from a 2 story apartment to a studio in Manhattan. Occasionally as spend a day de-cluttering but I don’t have the time to do it consistently.

  2. for Katie: When I knew I would be moving out of San Gabriel Drive, and Jerry and I were there about as long as you and Ron have been in your home, I cleared out over a period of several months, a few hours a day. It was too hard and too emotional to do in a more concentrated way. Everything you touch has a memory. it’s your entire family life, in the bits and pieces that someone wanted to save. I was able to find new homes for some of my art work that I couldn’t take, and for my brass Rana the Frog that went to the yard of friends who love it, and for much of my ceramic pottery. But there’s a lot that no one wants, and you can’t keep, and there you are.

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