Treasured Trash

Somehow you get to be 78 years old and you begin to try to hoe out your environment. In the process of sorting and throwing you come across items that have always made the cut before and managed to be saved solely on their sentimental value.

First, there is that old blue toiletries kit. You went to OCS in the fall of 1952 carrying a small white canvas ditty bag that had been the property of either your father or your brother during WWII. After just a few days, you found the ditty bag was workable in the barracks, but it did not work for liberty on weekends. On a quick trip to the PX I found this little blue toiletries kit. It was large enough to hold a toothbrush, a safety razor, a tube of toothpaste, a tube of shaving cream, a small leather case which held nail file, nail clippers and comb that had been given to me as a farewell gift by my college friends, and a pair of clean socks. If I wore the same underwear two days in a row, the kit served as an overnight bag. My first real run with it was to travel to my Aunt Elizabeth’s house in Whitman, Massachusetts on the night before Thanksgiving. At Thanksgiving dinner was my Uncle John Hingston and Cousin Jack down from Boston. Uncle Ed was suffering his usual digestive distress and did not join us, but he did take me to the Mount Hope Bridge from where I could hitch-hike back to Newport before I was due back. The kit was used all through my days in the service and for many, many years thereafter. It was retired only after it became too small for my expanding list of essential toiletries and the zipper tore out from my overstuffing the bag.

The Marine boondockers and the USN knife date from the same era. They would have been issued to me in June 1953 at HATU when I first started flying. I would never have flown without those boots. After I left the service, they served me for hiking for several years, eventually became gardening shoes, and finally were retired.

The striped towel was purchased in Virginia Beach on a July weekend in 1953 when my good buddy O. W. Mcguire and I were spending an idle weekend afternoon there. It was my primary swimming towel for the next several years, going with me to Morocco, serving well during water skiing days at the Atlantic Palace, appearing in a photo in Massachusetts at the time of the “Ensign’s Flight” on the weekend of Herm and Nancy’s wedding. It was many years after I left the service, but I can’t recall when it finally became too frayed to use and got relegated to the museum of memories.

It has occurred to me in 2008 that maybe if I take a photo of these items and jot down a note about them; maybe I will finally be able to discard them. I wonder.

All but the knife, which will go to the Salvation Army, was pitched on July 3, 2008. A piece of me has gone forever.