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Treasures from a Junk Drawer

Published in ChicagoNow, May 29, 2018

Can anyone guess what this is? I’ll give you a hint. It’s something I may have packed in a suitcase 40 years ago. Probably longer. And its regular version is something my grandkids have never seen.

If you guessed travel iron, you are probably someone collecting Social Security. My husband had filled a huge dresser drawer with things like this and piled his t-shirts on a shelf on top of our closet. When my reaching for something caused them to cascade to the closet floor, I asked why there was no normal place to keep these shirts. Perhaps a drawer?

Thus, I dumped out his bedroom junk drawer over the weekend, forcing him to identify each item and tell me the last time he had used it. Turns out, most of the items in the drawer went straight into the trash and he now had a perfect drawer to hold those t-shirts, a handful of which joined the strange assortment of objects that didn’t make the cut for saving. The potentially useful contents of the huge drawer fit into two plastic shoe boxes which fit nicely on that closet shelf, where I am sure they will gather dust until we move.

Ready for the next thing we found in his junk drawer? Actually, there were two of them. I don’t know if we ever actually used these, since my husband has worn a watch that included an alarm forever. Certainly, the iPhone made them ancient relics. But I’ll bet some of you remember travel alarms.

Since we are on the theme of travel, here’s one more item he was happy to toss once he remembered what it was. A case to hold his ties for travel. Was that worth keeping for all of these years? I can’t remember the last time he packed a tie to go anywhere, but I can attest to the fact that this was never used.

Two more items my grandkids would never recognize relate to shoes. Since most of their shoes are sneakers or sandals, they would never need this:

And since they put on their shoes by committing what would have been a sin in my childhood and smooshing their feet into them, breaking down the back, who needs a shoe horn? Especially a big one like this with the chess piece at the end to add a lovely decorative touch. My grandkids rarely untie their shoes and the younger ones use Velcro, so shoe horns are not needed.

Since no one polishes leather shoes anymore or takes them to a shoemaker to be repaired, I didn’t see the need for cans of shoe polish, brushes, and buffing rags. I lost this battle, however, so these things went into one of the shoe boxes to languish on the top shelf of the closet.

The microphone below was puzzling. The connector looked totally unfamiliar and wouldn’t connect with any electronic devise in the house. Any ideas how this was used?

One of my daughters has a vague memory of it being plugged into a cassette recorder to interview them as young kids. The tapes were hilarious, but where are they now? And how would we hear them again since all cassette players have vanished from the house?

Now, the pièce de résistance, our princess phones. There were actually two of them in the drawer, but this was definitely the prettiest one:

There was a reason for keeping them back in the day. When we went to cordless phones, we needed something to plug in to a phone jack in case of a power failure. At least I think that was the rationale, although I doubt we would have found them hidden away in the back of that junk drawer.

Yes, this was a satisfying experience. Unfortunately, we have many more of these drawers throughout the house. The kitchen junk drawer is always a challenge. No matter how many times I clean it out, unidentifiable keys, rubber bands, and dried up pens seem to mysteriously multiply. There are two similar drawers in my family room, and who knows what lurks in my kids’ old dressers?

Marie Kondo, help. Do you have a book on decluttering a junk drawer? These things do not spark joy. I have no need to thank them for their service. I just need the time and energy to let them go.


by Laurie Levy
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