Columns

2008.09.10 Should it stay or should it go?

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

Should it stay or should it go? That is the question


By RICH FOLEY

I suppose I should be better organized when it comes to the flood of paper I always seem to be facing, but sometimes, it’s just so easy to put things off until later. “Later,” it seems, can often turn out to be “much, much later.”

 For example, a fund raising letter sent to me by Barack Obama in May, 2006, just resurfaced from under a pile of slightly newer “keepsakes.” It came to the Observer address so I wondered at the time if I had written a column that made someone think I was a prospect for a donation to the “Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.”

Whatever the reasoning that got me that letter, I never received another and so far, Obama hasn’t hit me up for a donation for 2008. Maybe he’s too busy, or just afraid I’d write about him. Either way, should I dispose of such a historic document?

That line of thinking helps to explain the box I was digging into last week. Since the newest thing in it dates from 2004, I’m guessing I threw a bunch of stuff into a box rather than sort through it when I was packing to move to Fayette. I’m just glad I didn’t need anything from the box any sooner. Which reminds me of the key story...

Shortly before I moved, I signed a rental agreement with Gene Beaverson and he gave me a pair of keys to my new apartment. I put one on my keychain and the other in what I thought was a safe place during the move. When I had need of the extra key some time later, it was not where I thought I had left it, nor anywhere else I looked. About a year and a half later, it turned up unexpectedly in another box of various “stuff.”

So imagine my excitement at this box of souvenirs of my time as a Michiganiac. Near the top was a 2004 Oldsmobile brochure, a little reminder of the brand’s last year. Then things started to get interesting.

There was my Kindergarten Certificate, entitling me to enter first grade the next school year. It was signed by principal DeRand Jones. I’ve never met anyone else in my life named DeRand.

Then there was a photo of my kindergarten class. I’d bet most schools don’t have over 30 kids in one class these days. I still can’t identify nearly half of them.

A stack of old postcards was pretty interesting, too. There were quite a few old airline postcards, which I collected when I was much younger. I doubt any airlines are handing them out free these days. One, from American Airlines, pictured their 365 mph DC7 airliner. That must be the oldest in my collection. I also had postcards from Allegheny and Mohawk Airlines, two long-gone carriers. I’ll be hanging on to these.

I also have postcards from the Irish Hills Twin Towers, the shoreline of Foley, Alabama (no relation that I’m aware of), and the U.S. Royal Tire/Ferris wheel from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, which later rolled to Michigan and became the giant tire along the freeway near Detroit. I’m keeping those, too.

Then there’s one of the water filtration plant in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Maybe I don’t have to keep every single postcard after all.

Next, a photograph from 1981 of me with NASCAR driver Jody Ridley. Ridley had recently won his first (and only, as it turned out) Cup race and was posing in the MIS garage for anyone who wanted a picture. That’s Jody in the firesuit, me in the cowboy hat. Like to see it? Over my dead body.

The most fascinating find was the check register from my first checking account. I opened it in 1974 and it took until 1982 to use the first hundred checks. I started writing a lot more checks after I got my first apartment.

What memories some of the entries brought back. For example, back in 1979 I bought a brand new Ford Mustang and my payments were a whopping $122.93 per month. I wonder what kind of vehicle I could get for that kind of money today?

And the prices I paid after I got my apartment in 1983 were a lot lower than I’m used to now. Rent was $255 per month, including utilities. Cable television service was $9. And my phone bill ran between $11 and $12 per month at first. By April, 1987, it still was only $14.21. I must not have known anyone out of town to call in those days. 

No wonder I have so many boxes. How could I part with such history? Except for that photo of me and Jody Ridley. It’s as good as gone.

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