What is it about the seventy-plus generation and packing for a trip? How many suitcases full of bathing suits and light summer wear does one need for a month. My neighbor’s travel with 4 wheel-less fifty-pound suitcases, this does not include their hand carried bags. Said neighbors fly to Hawaii every year and relax for an entire month. They stay in a condominium that has a washer and dryer, very civilized.
I think this packing issue is a common problem with people who grew up in the “depression era”. I am a child of the fifties, and for much of my young life I could not relate to the concept of “you better save it because there will be none available tomorrow.” Isn’t this ironic that this is the essence of recycling today? My grandmother, God Bless her, saved used tin foil, she had a drawer where we could find carefully folded used tin foil or a giant ball of bits of string and a massive rubber band ball. I remember thinking that the rubber band ball would bounce like a regular ball…wrong. The ball bounced around the kitchen like a drunken sailor; breakage of various objects would ensue. Punishment to follow.
My neighbor saves boxes, you need a box, you go to her. “Hey Irma, do we have a box for these pajama’s your sister left at our house, I better mail them to her before she decides to come visit again.” “Head on down the street to Mabel’s house and pick through her box collection, can’t miss it, boxes are spilling out the garage.”
Until she moved, my neighbor had what I used to call her “ high end box collection”. No wimpy collapsible boxes for her, only the finest hard-sided boxes resided in her garage. No amount of cajoling or teasing would move her to discard her boxes. The orphanage for boxes filled the entire back half of her two-car garage; the boxes crept out the side door to take over her lovely little courtyard, where they became houses for the birds and other critters.
She also collects used plastic butter containers. These obviously make fine food storage dishes. I discovered her butter dish collection had blossomed into a full-blown menagerie when I helped her move. Lord, somehow the butter dishes had migrated an hour from her house in our neighborhood and had taken up residence in the very tight kitchen of her new home. There was very little storage in the kitchen but apparently room enough for 600 old butter containers. My neighbor’s sister told me not to throw away the old butter dishes. I threw a few away, I could not help myself, surely she would not miss fifty or so of the butter containers. Somehow, my neighbor knew, I could see it in her eyes.
I now realize that this “pack-rattage” obsession is not the fault of the ratter but a learned habit. This helps me make sense of the four fifty pound suitcases, possibly filled with boxes, butter dishes, and seersucker suits of ages gone by. I am not sure my husband understood pack-rattage mentality as he strapped on his “heavy lifting” belt and prepared to heave the suitcases into the car for the trip to the airport. The last piece of luggage out of the car was our neighbor’s carry on. Strangely enough it was a cooler.
Now, when I think of coolers on airplanes, I think of someone carrying a fish back from Alaska or some type of body part for an emergency transplant, maybe I watch too much television but that is what comes to mind. Craig pleasantly asked our neighbor; “Mabel, what do you have in the cooler?” She matter of factly replies that she is carrying a frozen turkey. What the heck? Maybe frozen turkeys are not available in Hawaii. I can only imagine what the TSA screening people thought. “Mam, will you please step to the side, I need to look inside your cooler.” I don’t think my neighbor would have batted an eyelash; doesn’t everyone carry frozen turkeys to Hawaii?
Come to think of it, the depression era lessons are still applicable today. What they “saved” due to various shortages, we now recycle to “save” our resources. Hmm, food for thought, best wrapped in old tin foil.