OT? What about all the stuff?

Does stuff have Macroeconomic impact? Stuff that cost a lot of money and emotion that needs to be transferred due to downsizing or death?

The N.Y. Times just published an article on the subject of “death cleaning” that consists of letters from readers. Many of these letters are touching and insightful.




**Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It**
**By Tom Verde, The New York Times, Aug. 18, 2017**


**As baby boomers grow older, the volume of unwanted keepsakes and family heirlooms is poised to grow — along with the number of delicate conversations about what to do with them. According to a 2014 United States census report, more than 20 percent of America’s population will be 65 or older by 2030. As these waves of older adults start moving to smaller dwellings, assisted living facilities or retirement homes, they and their kin will have to part with household possessions that the heirs simply don’t want.....** [end quote]

Different generations had different emotional needs.

My grandparents’ generation (early 20th century poor immigrants) became successful by dint of hard work. They valued stuff that showed their rising status, such as fine china and silver flatware. I admit that I miss the big extended-family dinners around the mahogany table with fine damask tablecloth, glittering with crystal, china and silver (which I enjoyed polishing).

My grandparents bought a large, 2-family home in Brooklyn in about 1935.

My parents moved our family into the ground floor in about 1958 while our grandparents lived upstairs. The entire house, including the basement, was crammed with stuff. All of it was really nice. No hoarded junk. (My mother’s motto was, "When in doubt, throw it out.)

Every wall was covered in original art work. Many rooms had bookcases filled with books. The record collection dated back to my grandfather’s single-sided 78 RPM vinyls. In one basement room was the steamer trunk my grandparents brought to Paris in 1929, which contained a delicate, tiny silk baby nightgown hand-made for my newborn dad in Paris. A barrel contained an entire set of Bavarian china with gold trim. My father’s radio room was crammed with tube-style radios. His workshop was crammed with his own father’s metal-working lathe, drill presses, saws and countless tools. My parents’ hunting bows and rifles. My mother’s sculptures, paintings and etchings. My great-grandmother’s original ESL practice book, wedding ring and rolling pin. My grandfather’s engineering notebook with beautiful hand drawings.

The quality of all this stuff was commensurate with a highly-cultured, upwardly mobile upper middle class household.

When my mother died in 2001, the house had to be sold. I asked Jeff to handle selling the house since he still lived in Brooklyn. Jeff and I and our younger sister took some keepsakes, but of course we all had fully-furnished households.

Jeff sold the house to a family of immigrants with all the stuff still in it. Talk about fully furnished! I wished them the very best and hoped that they enjoyed the pots and pans, the towels and sheets, the clothing and tools. I wished them the same success that our immigrant family had earned over the decades.

On a personal level, I am aware that I will eventually end up living in one or two rooms. (If I live that long.) I try to keep the possessions I care about down to the volume that will fit. Even so, I have some nice things (not to mention the historic items from the ancestors) that I’m not sure who would want them.

On a Macro level, will a generational tsunami of stuff impact the art or other markets? Anyone who watches “Antiques Roadshow” (one of my favorite programs) has heard the appraisers say “Twenty years ago this was valuable, but now nobody is buying them.”

I have a will and a trust. I have attached a codicil that lists many of my possessions (jewelry, art), their provenance, each with the name of a friend or relative along with their contact information. My executor (DH if he survives me) will have the job of mailing dozens of little keepsakes.

I still don’t know who should get the stuff from our progenitors because I don’t know who (if any) would care enough to keep them.



Stuff that cost a lot of money and emotion

“A lot of money” is often irrelevant; a generation later it’s stuff that no longer costs a lot of money and is better made. We helped downsize my parents home, they lived in an upscale community, had two homes, and bought “the good stuff”. Not the best stuff, maybe, but not junk from China either.

May Dad offered me his tools, which we largely hand crank drills and a couple of corded power tools. I can buy battery tools which are more convenient for less than he paid. We rescued one painting and one curio cabinet, other than that: nada. The couches, the chairs, the bed, etc.: worn out or dated, the house fixtures: dated, the cars: used. The clothing, jewelry, kitchen cookware, game room games, etc. we donated, although I would be surprised if more than half of it made it onto a resell shelf somewhere.

We’re not like past - or poor - societies. We don’t treasure the past the way others have; I suspect landfills will be the big winners.


your father had radios with tubes…was he a ham radio operator by chance?