Randall Beach: Giving away my Davy Crockett cap made me a better man
“The joy project” in our New Haven home is now more than a year old and chugging into 2018 as a renewal of our New Year’s resolution.
In January of last year, my wife and I, having looked around our “empty nest” at all the unneeded books, DVDs, CDs, clothing and tchotchkes, vowed to begin de-cluttering.
Our resolution: every day, each of us would select an item and put it aside to donate to the Goodwill store in Hamden or a used bookstore, etc.
We were a little worried, as we began our project in January 2017, that we would start to run out of things we obviously didn’t need any more and by the end of the year, it would start to hurt as we continued to “weed out.”
Well, that didn’t happen, at least not on most days. It seems we had accumulated so much stuff, especially in the last 20 years of living in the same house, that usually we fairly easily found things to offload.
Maybe it will start to hurt sometime this year. We shall see.
Why do we call this “the joy project”? We took it from a book by Marie Kondo, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Kondo wrote that if something doesn’t give you joy, you should pass it on to someone else.
Here’s a good example, and it was donated right off the bat, day one, Jan. 1, 2017: a train set that we used to set up around the base of our Christmas tree. Our kids liked it. But in recent years, we had stopped bothering to bring it up from the basement. Have you ever noticed that kids grow up?
And so why not give it to Goodwill, so they can pass it on to a kid of today who will enjoy it for a few years?
The same held true for 10 children’s books I donated to Books & Co. in Hamden last January when the store had an event in which teachers picked up books for their students. One of those kids got “Bambi,” which I had held onto since childhood. Somebody else is now enjoying “Curious George Rides a Bike” and “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.”
Oh, and this bonus went to our neighborhood’s Little Free Library box: a “Leave it to Beaver” book! Those library boxes, offering anybody the chance to donate or pick up a free book, are sprouting everywhere.
The excellent organization New Haven Reads received some of our other kids’ books, including “The Great Whales.” We had long thought we should hang onto those books “for our grandchildren.” But come on! When might that ever happen? A New Haven kid needs that book now.
On Valentine’s Day, my records show, I donated a CD called “A Passion for Love” to Goodwill. We found it to be more schmaltzy than romantic.
In March, I gave away some of my many Beatles books (I just don’t read them anymore) and a book on the Three Stooges. My wife was happy to see that one go.
Later in March, I turned to my large collection of CDs. Away went “Monster Party,” although its songs included “The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and “Doin’ the Zombie” by Chubby Checker. It was no “Twist.”
I also parted with my “Sounds of Halloween” CD.
On other days, I plucked from a shelf lesser-watched DVS, such as “The Pride of the Yankees” (Gary Cooper) and a season of “Veep.” Those went to Best Video in Hamden.
Did I really need Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” on cassette when I have the record album and CD? Nope. The same applied to “Tommy” by the Who. I took them to Replay Records in Hamden.
In July, the hat collection took a hit. I gave away a Philadelphia Phillies cap and even a Louis’ Lunch hat. I’ll bet that was a hit in somebody’s home. And then I took a deep breath, pulled my Davy Crockett coonskin cap off its peg in an upstairs closet and placed it in the Goodwill bag. I think I acquired that keepsake at the Alamo a couple of decades ago.
You see, yes, this was beginning to hurt a little.
Meanwhile, my wife was donating some things that had belonged to her father, who had died in February. She knew a youngster would enjoy reading his Zane Grey book and another kid could use his old wallet.
She also gave away an extra sewing machine and plenty of kitchen items (some went to the Barn Sale in Hamden). In addition, she got rid of a lot of her rarely wornclothing. I’m not the clothes horse she is, but I found sweaters and shirts to donate.
In October, I gave away my Superman underwear. Ouch.
November saw the end of my beer mugs tie and sunglasses with marijuana leaves on them.
And this month, I have begun to plunder my “Yankee shrine,” donating a Yankee batting cap and wallet. Let some kid wear that helmet!
This one did hurt: I finally parted with my snare drum, which I played for years in high school during my concert band days. But when had I last played it? Decades ago. Now, some New Haven youngster can pound away on it.
My latest donation: the toy soldiers I used to play with as a kid. Those cowboys and Indians and soldiers and horses will now once again get the attention they deserve.