Anyone experiencing a kitchen or bathroom renovation can attest to the stress and strain as your family is inconvenienced for weeks at a time. But a basement renovation is different. Even if you have a finished basement, the non-finished portion of your basement is most likely filled with, well, let’s call it stuff. For Long Island families, stuff accumulates year after year. And since it’s not in your direct line of sight every day, you tend to forget about it, or choose to ignore it.
Many of us make grandiose plans to “one day” tackle the ever-increasing mass of flotsam and jetsam that gets closer and closer to infringing on your living space, but let’s face it, “out of sight, out of mind.” As we planned for our basement renovation, it became necessary to take a deep breath and get ready to make some hard decisions.
Preparing myself for this noble adventure, I wore my Indiana Jones hat and grabbed my trusty flashlight. I would need to maneuver through the laundry room and around the oil tank, places I would only visit to retrieve and return Christmas decorations. Constantly checking my clothing for hitchhiking cave crickets, I reached my destination just as the sun began to set. There, I could see the silhouette of boxes and crates containing long forgotten treasures.
Giddy as a school boy, I reached several open-ended crates containing a few hundred thin, rectangular cardboard covers, adorned with colorful artwork. Upon closer inspection, each individual cover housed a 12-inch round, vinyl platter, embedded with tiny grooves on both sides. At one time, these must have been very popular for us to have so many of them.
I found boxes covered in dust from the last century, containing college textbooks from when Jimmy Carter was president. There was ancient furniture that at one time was used for infants, like a crib and a playpen. Surely these barbaric death traps couldn’t be used on the children of today without all the necessary safety features.
A file cabinet covered in cobwebs held product user guides for equipment I no longer owned and paperwork I no longer needed. There were shoeboxes containing receipts and bank statements for each year going back to the '80s. What’s a bank statement? And boxes of printed photographs. How long has it been since people printed photographs? There were photo albums with no photos in them and photo-montage frames still adorned with the smiling model family that I didn’t know.
I found many lonely board games, including three different versions of Monopoly. Do we really need classic Monopoly, Star Wars Monopoly and The Simpsons Monopoly? Don’t you still collect $200 for passing GO in each version? There were mounds of children’s books we acquired over the years from monthly book club subscriptions, like Dr. Seuss and The Berenstain Bears. We had picture books and favorites, like Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man, that kept us engaged and laughing for hours upon end. Only now, they are taking up space and collecting dust. My vast DVD collection became obsolete in the era of “On Demand” programming.
I encountered a lifetime of memories alongside a lifetime of junk. Residing in the same house for over 30 years and raising two grown children leaves you a healthy inventory.
As I retraced my steps to extricate myself from these ancient artifacts, I knew it was time to make hard decisions and let some things go. Books got donated to the library, DVDs were donated to the Overseas Veterans and that massive amount of paperwork was tied up for shredding and recycling.
But somehow, I couldn’t let go of those strange, rectangular folders with the cool artwork, holding those vinyl platters. As a matter of fact, I found smaller versions of those large platters encased in plastic boxes labeled “CD's” with some of the same artwork. I wonder why anyone would have two artifacts marked Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.