Yesterday I cleaned my writing house. It was a mess!
Consequently, when I rose from my bed this morning, I could
immediately find paper on which to write this column. What a
relief! There was a time during yesterday’s melee when my bed
was laden with such an unbelievable bunch of ‘stuff’ that I
felt ill in my mid-section. It was falling off of the edges! But
now I know where my things are on which I want to start, and
I’ll get some work done. Hallelujah!
Oh! How I wish I was more organized! That is I think I wish it!
There are some people who are so organized they become a bit
unbearable. I’ve often wondered if they even make love by
appointment. I’d surely hate my kisses that way!
For me it has always been the spur of the moment things that
have put dash into life an unexpected caller, finding the right
dress when I wasn’t shopping for one, a morning poem coming on
me while I was struggling with a sink full of dishes, and so many
I suppose that finding the middle road between over-planning and
spontaneity is a test of living we have to face. It is probably a
part of being a whole person. But how hard it is to gather the
enthusiasm to accomplish a task such as yesterday’s labor. I
had to promise myself I would get that ‘stuff’ off of my
bed by night, and place it where it belonged, or not go to bed at
all. Moving a metal cupboard didn’t help, believe me!
Everything had to come out or I couldn’t budge it.
To keep or not to keep? To be gentle and encumbered, or ruthless
and bereft? So many hand-autographed books! So many memories of
Writer’s Conferences! What is one to do? We’ve largely
given up taking pictures. They only end up in a box in a forgotten
drawer. The next generation is busy at that now, therefore
grandchildren’s pictures are being added to my ‘stuff’.
And these are especially nice, of course, along with all the rest
And now there is another problem. If I don’t label all our
snapshots and pictures soon, the growing generation won’t even
know who Great Uncle Ben was and maybe they could care less. They
will get enough of their own ‘stuff’. Who knows what to do?
I’m sure I don’t.
Somehow there is a nostalgia about old things that we seem to
need. They give us a continuing sense of belonging to both the
past, the present, and the future. For as we look at old things, we
can visualize a former generation living and working with them. We
see our ancestors molding a future while living in the present. And
now they bring to us the past, in review.
I admit feeling sadness at burning some of the past in our
fireplace. It at least deserved a dignified burning. I couldn’t
carry it out in any old plowed field. But there were just too many
scraps of what had been and I was getting covered up by the past.
We can’t live in a museum for this is today! And today has a
right to existence as well!
This morning’s sun has just arisen to make a delightful day.
It is beautiful, and its light is streaming across my bed. I am
back in my bed, writing, long hand. I can’t think and type at
the same time, not this early in the day. The past of
yesterday’s upheaval is gone. The sad part is that it will all
begin to accumulate again, unless I am very careful. But can one be
careful enough? For all of us have experienced throwing away
something which we haven’t used for several years, and then
wanting it within a week. I once had a dear neighbor who said that
we collected so much during the first half of our lives, that it
took the second half of our lives to take care of it. She was so
During my sorting and cleaning yesterday I found a sacka paper
sack. The name printed on it was Live Steam Museum, Route 1, Box 11
A, Alamo, Texas 78516. But the proprietor of this place also has a
paying venture. He is a shipper of fresh citrus fruits. If you want
to patronize a man who is doing a great work of keeping the past
alive, order some fruit from Tommy Tompkins. It is luscious and
carefully and attractively packed. The orange juice we drank there
was something to remember. And it was February which made it so
When we first spied Tommy Tompkins he was busy packing oranges,
wearing his glasses so he might accurately lay aside any inferior
fruit. Among his antiques, inside and out, were a Case traction
engine and a Peerless Portable 8 H. P. steam engine built in 1896.
This had a smoke stack which folds down, and a special seat up
front from which the driver guided his horses. I managed to crawl
up on that seat and have my picture taken. ‘Twas’nt
When Mr. Tompkins finished his packing he told me of a special
project he has going which will require a new building to house it.
It is a marine engine from a World War II Liberty Ship. The engine
is 25 ft. in height, 25 ft. long, 15 ft. wide. He mentioned
something about 2500 horse power. THAT is a lot of horses!
In the office of the Live Steam Museum were some of Mr.
Tompkin’s own special possessions. A huge parachute hung from
the ceiling in billowing folds. He had several pictures of Wiley
Post on the walls, along with the pictures of the outfit to which I
assume Mr. Tompkins belonged. Had I taken down more information,
I’d have more to give you. But I suggest, rather, that you go
see for yourself. Or you may want to invest in the non-profit
corporation he told me of. He is issuing $100.00 promissory notes,
which pay no interest. These will be repaid out of admissions and
donations for viewing this marine engine, plus his other things
from the past.
Isn’t it a great thing when a man does something to make
people happy in such a wholesome way? And he isn’t seeking for
a large profit. So in your travels give Mr. Tompkins the boost of
your interest. You will like it there. So long and God bless you
among your ‘stuff’!