The Story of “Stuff”

March 8, 2018

Written by Art Petrosemolo

All of us who have moved into Garden Spot Village faced the daunting challenge of getting rid of “Stuff” accumulated over decades, either in one or home or many. It’s called downsizing. Everyone has stories about that task as do I.

But what no one talks about is that we seem to acquire new “stuff” here too and the fact that Lancaster County is the epicenter of auctions, flea markets, second hand shops, indoor and outdoor antique and collectible sites as well as just finding stuff along the road with a sign on it that says “free.”

I wonder if I might be back into the acquiring mode and try hard to get rid of something every time I acquire something new, but it doesn’t seem to be working. One of the things that helps keep me in check is just pure storage space…. Where do I put the new “stuff?” Can you imagine the pickle we’d be in if everyone (not just us in Sycamore Springs) had two gar garages or worse still, on-site storage garages?

What got me thinking about this recently were a number of impulse purchases I have made. My wife Tina feels it is because I have inherited the “gene” for acquiring junk. My dad, after he retired as a school principal in New Haven, Conn., took a part-time job with a company that liquidated businesses. He would spend weeks all over the country holding down the fort in closed manufacturing operations while equipment was removed. He never failed to come home with some tchotchke or trinket picked up from a desk or workplace. There were some rare finds and although I laughed then, I wish I had one or two today.

It always reminded me of the story when they unsealed the ocean liner SS United States in Norfolk, Va., in the 1980s after it sat idle since 1969 and they found everything from crew wallets to underwear left behind when the ship was suddenly taken out of service. As you know, the ship currently sits rusting at a pier in Philadelphia (I photographed for stories inside and out several times) awaiting rescue.

Anyway, I digress.

So back to “stuff.” Recently, I found a recliner for my Sycamore Springs man cave on Facebook Marketplace in Mt. Joy for $40 and a small chest freezer for $80 in Honeybrook. Thankfully, friend Bob Collins has a small truck and always says yes when I ask for help to pick up stuff.

Tina and I always make at least one trip to Renninger’s, the indoor antique and flea market in Denver each winter, and Shupp’s Grove in the spring. And there are so many other places like the Leola Flea Market, local auctions (seems like there is one each day), yard sales, Goodwill (I like the one on Lancaster Avenue in Reading) and the multiple Re-Uzit shops. I came home from the New Holland Re-Uzit this week with an Eagle, oxford dress shirt. They were wonderful shirts originally made in Allentown, Pa., and competed with Gant and Sero (from my hometown New Haven, CT) and were the preppy shirts of the 1960s and 70s. It took me down memory lane to find a blue striped Eagle at Re-Uzit for $4 when I know it would have sold for $30.

But I also bought a great pair of hiking shorts there for $4 that I learned after one wearing and washing had an unrepairable wear hole so yes, the buyer has to beware. And I won’t talk about the terrible experience I had purchasing an iPhone via Facebook Marketplace.

I have also purchased (and sold) on eBay, which in the early days was primarily for people buying and selling “stuff.” I also have bought and continue to buy and sell on Craigslist. Sometimes, when you need something today from some obscure part for a tool to something you forgot you needed, scouring the web from your computer, tablet or smartphone is the way to go and I have found 99% of the time it is there and arrives within a week. And, also, most of the time, if it is not as advertised and comes from China and you ask for a refund, they don’t even want the item returned.

So, as the spring season approaches, I am preparing a list. I need some garden tools (rake, shovel, etc.) for my plot in the Sycamore Springs community garden and a special pair of New Balance sneakers I have not been able to find. And I am sure there will be a dozen other things that pop into my head. Oh, I really want a toaster oven although Tina says there is no room on the counter. I’ll find one soon and probably have to hide it in my closet.

I know you are smiling as you probably have been bitten, over the years, by the “stuff” bug and like the flu, it is hard to shake.

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