News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

January 25, 2011

MS. TAKES: Remembering things left behind

TERRE HAUTE — I believe in clean closets. I don’t always practice what I preach, but I do believe!

By the time I was 7 years old, we had moved four times, or maybe five. I don’t remember much before I was four. By the time I was 15, we had moved five more times, four of them to different houses in Yorkville. Counting my sojourn in a college dorm, I moved an additional four times before I cut loose on my own. That many moves tends to strip you to the base essentials.

Dad was a packrat. After Mom died, he got worse, and when I went to clean out their home when he died, there was one section of the shed I did not dare to open. Dad had saved so many magazines he wanted to “get back to someday” that he had begun to toss them over the wall between the sections. To open the door was to be caught in a tidal wave of magazines.

There were trunks of things in other parts of the shed. One trunk held lengths of lace Auntie had created during her tatting period. I kept a couple of the shorter ones to use as bookmarks, but I don’t know where they are now.

Dad’s old xylophone was shipped off to California at the request of my nephew. I don’t know whether or not he plays it, but better his closet than mine.

A few things I regret leaving behind. Some I think of now and then and wonder what became of them. An old Seth Thomas clock was left in the storage room when we moved from “the Perkins’ house.” I wanted that clock, but Mom said it didn’t work and was too old to fix. After watching the “Antiques Road Show,” I wonder what it might be worth if I had been allowed to keep it.

A childhood friend of Dad’s worked in a clothing factor in Ottawa, Ill., and he saved wooden spools for Ed and me. We had a large round box filled with spools which we used to build towers and castles and all those things today’s kids must have Legos to create. I wonder what happened to them? Jettisoned in a move, I suppose.

I guess things have been lost in our many moves, but we’ve passed on treasures too. Ed wanted our old kitchen clock, a ceramic square with Dutch scenes in blue and white. It never kept good time, but he wanted it, so I sent it. He had it electrified and it ticked away in his kitchen until his death.

I have no idea what, if anything, our sons will cherish as a part of family history. I hope they will let me know, or it may get shuffled off the next time I am struck by a clean closet episode!

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Liz Ciancone
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