I’ve been thinking about this lately and its sort of interrelated with my mid-life crisis post.
I’ve thrown some things away and other things I’ve sold that I’ve come to now regret. As I list the items and give my reasons, which at the time seemed valid, but now seem stupid, please don’t hate me.
Forget for a second that we’ve all thrown away childhood treasures that we now regret because they might have had if not intrinsic value then at least sentimental value. Things like baseball cards (betcha I had a Mickey Mantle or a Hank Aaron!), Silver Age comic books (all my Legion of Superheroes and Classics Illustrated, GONE! Who knew they’d be worth something one day?), a Lone Ranger lunchbox, the first and only book in a series of novels based on the television show Lost in Space, the Man from Uncle gun, a box of rocks, the entire vinyl collection of The Archies, and of course, the set of 45s by the Banana Splits only available by sending so many box tops to the mythical Battle Creek, Michigan.
Despite having thrown away all my childhood memories, I still consider myself a packrat. Or at least my wife does, I consider myself a collector, a collector who had moments of stupid.
Those moments of stupid occur at points in my life when I purge things for whatever reason. It’s a psychic cleansing of some sort, a ghastly form of depression that characterizes itself by me wanting to rid myself of things I feel have no place in my life any longer.
This debilitating disease has struck me several times in my life resulting in my throwing things out that I have later come to regret.
A prime example of this happened while I was stationed in Iceland in the Navy. I had amassed a large collection of WWII memorabilia through the mail. I had a gas mask, a German helmet, a pair of Rommel-style glasses, an SS cap, along with some other things I’ve since forgotten. When I was packing up to leave Iceland for my next assignment, these items all went in the trash or I gave them away to friends. I don’t know why and can’t recall what my thinking was at the time. But I kick myself every day for doing it. WWII memorabilia is not only cool, but now it’s probably very valuable.
When I returned home from the Navy, I found that I still had my entire collection of books that I had from high school. This collection contained nearly every book Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote, his Pelucidar series, his Venus series, his Mars series, several one shot books, and about half of his Tarzan series (he wrote 24); it also contained all my reprints of pulp novels such as The Shadow series (which oddly enough I didn’t part with), Doc Savage, and The Avenger; I had books by Allan Dean Foster, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Lieber, John Jakes, Lin Carter, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Robert Silverberg, along with the entire 12 volume set of Conan books by Robert E. Howard reprinted by Lancer and edited by Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Campe. Plus dozens of other books by authors I can’t recall at the moment.
I sold it all to a used bookstore. Why? I don’t know. I needed some money. But now, as I haunt used bookstores trying to replace that collection, I’m kicking myself every day for it.
I also had a large collection of comics. I didn’t get rid of all of it then. I got rid of more than half though. I don’t recall what I got rid of, but I imagine it was most of my superhero comics from high school, mostly Bronze Age stuff, pretty much a large collection of Marvel, even things like Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf by Night, and all my Jack Kirby DC stuff such as The Demon, Kamandi, New Gods, and so on.
The only things I kept were primarily my collection of Conan that ran from issue #1 to about #35; my collection of Mike Kaluta The Shadow and Pirates of Venus; my Tarzan collection by Joe Kubert. Along with some silly Gold Key first issues.
The rest of my collection, however, finally ended up in the trash one day when we were moving from our apartment to the side-by-side we lived in until we finally purchased our own home. It was the end of a long weekend and I was so tired of lugging boxes from place to place that I just took that large box, about 4x3x2, and dropped it in the dumpster.
That one still brings tears to my eyes, especially when I look at what the price of Conan the Barbarian #1 sells for on eBay these days.
And I want to make it clear: it was all me. My wife had nothing to do with it. She’s never told me to get rid of anything of mine (unlike some wives I know). She’s always been supportive of my silly interests (again, unlike some wives I know). She even lets me display my silly items in my “man cave” (again, unlike some, well, you know), which isn’t really a man-cave so much as the kid’s rec-room that I’m simply allowed to keep stuff in and visit from time to time. In other words, she’s pretty much let me be me, a big overgrown kid with a big overgrown kid’s collection of junk.
So all my purgings have been solely my idea and the blame rests entirely on my shoulders. But as I said in my mid-life crisis thread, I’m trying to get all of my past back. I just hope I don’t suffer any more of these “episodes” and have the sense to keep my newly acquired stuff.
I wonder though, will I ever be able to replace my most valued collection of Banana Splits 45s?