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Treasures unearthed in the closetTreasures unearthed in the closet

Front Porch: Who knows what might be lurking on those jampacked shelves?

Tom J. Bechman

January 27, 2023

3 Min Read
small, blue child's suitcase that says "Going to Grandma's"
PRACTICAL FIND: We uncovered our son’s suitcase just in time for his son to use it to come to our house. Tom J. Bechman

Some of you may remember the late Howard Doster, the iconic-if-somewhat-eccentric Purdue Ag economist. He could be mired down in the most tedious task ever, yet smile and say, “What fun!”

The activity I shall describe would have tested even Howard’s patience. I made the mistake of offering to help my wife start cleaning out closets one time too many.

Naturally, she wanted to start with the biggest closet — the one with bifold doors that spans the width of the back bedroom. Four sturdy, wooden shelves line every wall, and they were packed full. Four kids now grown and gone and 20 years between cleaning closets produces lots of stuff.

Fortunately, our oldest daughter, Allison, was helping. My idea was to pull it all out, reorganize and put it all back. Allison’s idea was pull it all out and leave it out — in a trash bag.

“If you aren’t sure why you kept it in the first place, and forgot it was there, and it’s been there for 20 years, why would you keep it now?” she asked.

Hmmm. Good point.

Great finds

Here are some treasures we found:

20-year-old microwave. Everyone needs one in their closet! And no, it wasn’t antique. “We probably stuck it there after moving a kid home from college,” Carla lamented.

“Not I,” assured Allison. I’m not so sure.

Allison plugged it in, and it worked! It’s headed to a donation shop — where it should have gone 20 years ago.

Anniversary cards. … from my maternal grandfather and grandmother’s 50th wedding anniversary. She died in 1963 and my grandfather in 1974. They were married more than 60 years; you do the math. I wasn’t going to be the one to throw them out. They’re back in the closet.

Toy tractor boxes. No self-respecting toy collector throws boxes away. Some boxes from the 1950s fetch $200 or more — just for the box. None of these were old … yet. Alison knew the ground rules. She could not throw them away, just reorganize them. She did great. Now I have room for more boxes, which means more toy tractors!

4-H ribbons and banners. You know those things that some people, not me, literally spend thousands of dollars chasing? We had a whole big box crammed full. Nice purple ones, dating back 25 years. You know what a purple banner is good for after the fair? Stuffing in a closet.

Kid’s suitcase. Carla uncovered the suitcase she sent with our son, Daniel, when he went to Grandma’s house as a little tike. It even says “Going to Grandma’s.” Nope, it didn’t go back in the closet. It’s going to Daniel’s house. His son, Nolan, 2, can use it to come to our house.

Old pictures. “Oh, look, Allison, here’s a gem,” Carla said. It was me — my high school graduation picture.

Two can play that game. “Allison, look here,” I said. It was a high school picture of Carla. Her hair was a slightly different shade.


We took out four big, big bags of trash, carted off several bags of clothes to donate and filled the spare bed with items going to each kid’s house, since it is their “stuff.” And at the end of two days … the closet was still full.

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