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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: April 21, 2021

Trundle Bed

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,




**********

There was a good piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about the conundrum of what to do with household items and collectibles of seniors who are downsizing or who have passed away. In an earlier time it was assumed prized wood furniture, sets of china, crystal and flatware, and "collections" would be passed to heirs and received with joy. Now, that is often not the case.

The article featured interviews with appraisers who said that with the exception of high end furniture and art; fine jewelry, and firearms, there are fewer and fewer takers for such things, both within families and in the resale market.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Young people frequently relocate for work, and lugging grandma's massive china cupboard, formal dining room set and sideboard between apartments is not feasible. Entertaining has changed, and not too many host formal sit-down dinners anymore, so china that can't go in a microwave or a dishwasher isn't very practical. Many younger people are "minimalists," who don't like large displays of things like owls, clocks or collector plates. This can be even more pronounced when the items being passed on belonged to the gifter's own ancestors. Dad may have loved his father's heavy wooden desk and chair, but it doesn't have that emotional connection to a grandson, and he works on a laptop as he travels between sales calls.

This sometimes leads to hurt feelings, because the older person gifting such items greatly treasures them, with true emotional investment, and feels rejected when the offer of such a gift is not received with genuine enthusiasm.

The other contributor to this problem is the enormous quantity of "stuff" almost all of us own. The vast majority of our sisters and brothers living in Central and South America would be stunned to look at it. They live in two or three rooms, if they are lucky. One American kitchen would outfit five of theirs; multiple closets stuffed with clothes would have more options than they do in a lifetime; and just our decorative items would literally fill their rooms to the ceilings. Storage units multiply across the landscape because our homes and garages can't even accommodate what we have.

My propensity is to keep as few things as possible. I made an exception for the wood rocking horse I had when I was a toddler. I cut it off its wooden stand and Mike put it on a pole by our garden for me. I was thrilled when some birds immediately built a nest in its hollow interior. Eventually it will rot and fall apart. It won't be passed to an heir, but the birds and I will enjoy it for the time being.

But one thing I held on to was uncharacteristic for me. The item was Dad's trundle bed. A trundle bed is a small bed that fits under a bigger one, usually as a way to save floor space. My dad slept in this bed, probably starting when his little sister Donna was born. They lived in a tiny house in Kingsford, MI; bedrooms were shared of absolute necessity. So when his crib was needed for my aunt, someone built the trundle bed. Whoever the builder was, he was not a furniture builder, or even a good carpenter.

The bed is an askew rectangle with slats to hold up a pallet or mattress, with legs that fold flat against the top, for storage. Each leg has a metal caster so the bed could be rolled easily when erected.

The obvious thing to do was put it on the brush pile. It had no utility. The casters were rusty, some of the slats were missing and there was nothing beautiful about it. I briefly thought about salvaging some of the wood for a planter or picture frame, but that didn't satisfy my heart.

It belonged to my dad; one of the few items he had from his difficult childhood; losing his Mom at seven and his father struggling for employment during the depression. Dad felt a need to hold on to it until he died, tucked into the rafters of our chicken coop. I could not bear to throw it out or cut it up.

So Mike replaced slats. It is obvious these are replacements, no matter. Once stained and clear coated, with the casters fixed, I gave thoughts to using it as a plant trellis or some sort of wall hanging but I am not crafty. So Mike put a sheet of plexiglass on the top, and it is now suitable as an outdoor table. It has sort of an interesting primitive look, has a purpose, and will probably last another ten years now.

One of my goals is to not leave my kids with an enormous pile of belongings for them to have to disperse. So I am unafraid to have conversations now about what they might want, and manage my accumulations of "stuff," to a minimum. (A running joke between my kids is who will get the brick doorstop with the crocheted cover.)

In the meantime, while I am almost 65, I can still enjoy my rocking horse daily just like I did when I was five.

Song stuck in my head: "Like a Rock," by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. I had only heard the snippet of this song used on a truck commercial for the last few years. I listened to the whole thing while driving recently and it has stood the test of time well. An anthem to youth; the bullet-poof feeling teenagers often have; as recalled by a middle aged man. I can appreciate it now even more than I did when it was popular. Dylan quality lyrics but a much different sound.



You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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