There are lessons to be learned from saving

Posted 10/28/20

Throughout most of my life — at least the adult part, which I’m still working on — I’ve been a pack rat.

You name it; I’ve probably saved it. And most of the time not just one or two but …

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There are lessons to be learned from saving

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Posted

Throughout most of my life — at least the adult part, which I’m still working on — I’ve been a pack rat.

You name it; I’ve probably saved it. And most of the time not just one or two but many of them.

From time to time, I’ve wondered why. Is it insecurity? Maybe a deep-seated one but it shouldn’t be since I’ve usually had what I needed and most of the time what I wanted. And while Mama and Daddy instilled in my brothers and me the understanding that the world did not revolve around us, they also gave us a belief and awareness that we had some value in and to the human race, as did the majority of other folks who make up that membership.

Thinking about all that from time to time as I moved some of my stuff around, it seems that most of that attitude comes from my folks — mainly Mama. That’s not to lay all the blame on her, but she had a high degree of stuff-saving skill and, I think passed it on to me. I learned it well.

Often, I would ask her why she saved bits of aluminum foil or to-go order packs of ketchup or dozens of slightly used tissues, which I found in large numbers in the purses she left me when she checked into a nursing home.

“If you had grown up in the (Great) Depression,” she’d say, “you’d save everything, too. You might need it one day.”

We do differ in one regard, however, about the stuff we saved. She could usually find hers and put it to use while I tend to misplace — which is not the same thing as lose — mine. That is an almost daily nod to my dad who, more than once, told me I’d lose my head if it weren’t glued on.

A significant part of what I’ve saved through the years has revolved around the written word. Decades in the newspaper business can do that to you.

Part of that written word has been books. I love books. Have almost as many as the county library. Haven’t read them all, of course, but, boy, do they look nice on the shelves in my study or stacked on the floor or on top of the file cabinet or ... I cannot, repeat cannot, throw away a book.

But there’s also a nod to newspapers. It started out because I didn’t get to finish the Sunday edition. Went through the comics, which got to the point where they weren’t funny, and the sales papers and society sections. But those features and some sports and news stories I wanted to look at in depth were never finished. So, I started a little stack, which grew and grew and ... well, you get the picture.

Eventually I not only had stacks in several places in several rooms but moved on to the big plastic storage boxes. Through it all, my better half has been kind and long-suffering.

A few days ago, as part of the stay-at-home lifestyle of today, I began to go through some of those stacks and boxes of mainly old editions of the Chatham News/Record. I haven’t finished yet but have thrown out some, after carefully clipping to save articles for a later day. The residue will go into a fire in our outdoor pit some cool fall evening.

What I have learned from that exercise of reading and clipping is about words – mainly that we should keep them tender and sweet since we never know when we might have to eat them, AND that the written word can often be confusing since it doesn’t allow for body language and expression or nuances.

Case in point about this item I found: long ago I wrote a column about federal income taxes, lamenting that filing that year had cost me a truckload of extra cash since taking a deduction on the advice of a tax advisor had been ruled a “no-no” by the auditor who objected. In that column, I tongue-in-cheek suggested we shoot the advisors for giving out bad advice, much as Shakespeare once wrote, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

In the next week’s edition, in a letter to the editor, a county resident raked me over the coals for that written comment and noted before closing that apparently the “IRS caught him good,” which sounded like he was accusing me of doing something illegal. As I remember, I wasn’t about to get into a war of words but I did send him a strongly worded letter suggesting he not go any further down that particular road and sent a copy to my family’s lawyer of record.

So, friend, remember this point. Sometimes we can learn life lessons long after the event, as I hope I have with the written word. Still, it can be difficult to always hang onto the truth that the written word can convey various meanings, such as the note in a church bulletin once which read, “For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.”

Keep trying.

Bob Wachs is a native of Chatham County and retired long-time managing editor of the Chatham News/Chatham Record, having written a weekly column for more than 30 years. During most of his time with the newspapers, he was also a bi-vocational pastor and today serves Bear Creek Baptist Church for the second time as pastor.

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