I guess you could call me a hoarder, at least when it comes to memorabilia and clothes. I don’t feel like the label fits, but my wife keeps telling me I need to get rid of clothes I don’t wear anymore, so maybe it does.
I do know that I don’t like anyone messing with my memorabilia, no matter whose way it may be in. I put stuff where I want it to be, and I expect it to be in the same place when I go looking for it.
And that’s where my garage comes in.
From time to time my wife decides to clean our garage, mostly because, at least in my estimation, she has filled it with enough stuff that she doesn’t have room for any more stuff. So she cleans it out to make more room. On the other hand, she might tell you the reason she cleans the garage is because I’m too lazy to help.
And she might be right. But that’s only because I don’t feel like I should have to clean up stuff I didn’t put there in the first place. She would probably argue with that, too. But hey, in this space at least, the author always gets the last word.
Anyway, the most recent time my wife cleaned the garage, she completely rearranged it because she added a couple nice, new storage cabinets. The thing is, she did not ask my opinion where things should go, or what things I thought should be thrown in the trash.
For instance, when I came home to find the garage had been rearranged, I found that she had placed the storage cabinets in a location that blocks the use of my dartboard, and there’s not many other good places for it. A few moments later I went to take the trash out. When I opened the trash can lead, I saw a bunch of my old hats. One of them was a black, block-O Ohio State ball cap like one the legendary Woody Hayes used to wear. On the underside of cap’s bill are three autographs — Archie Griffin, John Cooper and Kirk Herbstreit — that my oldest son acquired for me when an Ohio State caravan came to Hillsboro many summers ago.
I did not want any of the half dozen or so hats thrown away, but since she is more than aware that I am a huge Ohio State football fan, I assumed she also knew the hat was off limits. It holds special meaning, not so much because of the autographs, but because my son obtained them for me when he was quite young, and I have kept it all these years.
From time to time, when the same son is home from Illinois for an Ohio State football game, he will hunt the hat down and wear it during a game.
So, when I found my Woody hat in the trash, let’s just say I was little displeased.
The reason my wife cleaned the garage on that occasion was because she was having a garage sale. That’s something else I detest, because not only does my garage (I call it mine because I spend a lot more time there besides anyone except our cat) get filled with junk the week before and during the garage sale, it often stays there long after the garage sale is over, denying me access to my pool table.
I do not use the pool table much anymore, but if the mood arises, I like it to be available, without junk stacked on top of it.
The day after I rescued my hat, I was perusing the stuff in the yard sale when I found a very nice and comfortable Cincinnati Bengals jacket she was trying to sell. We do not know where the coat came from, but since no one ever claimed it, and it was too big for everyone else in the house, I decided it was mine a few years ago. I do not wear it often, but when the mood strikes, I like it to be there.
So, muttering under my breath, I rescued the Bengals jacket, too, and took it back to its usual place of rest. But I have not wore it once this year. That’s because somewhere between the yard sale and cold weather, my wife took a liking to it and, despite it being way too big, she has apparently claimed it as her own.
There is one thing in the garage, though, that she did not discard or try to sell.
Among my memorabilia is a very small plaque I received from the Highland County YMCA several years ago for coaching a flag football team. The same son that wears the Woody hat played on that team.
I had lost track of the plaque, but when my wife was cleaning out the garage she placed it, and several other trophies I received when coaching my kids, atop a table in the garage. I never paid much attention to the table until I recently noticed the plaque among the trophies.
I like the plaque because it reminds me of that flag football season when our team went undefeated, and did not allow a single point the whole year.
The team’s success that season had little to do with my coaching. I worked part-time for the Y at the time, it was trying to start a youth flag football league, but was a little short of players. So my son starting doing a little recruiting. By the time he was done, our team had like eight or nine of the fastest 10 kids in the league, and that makes coaching flag football pretty easy.
Over the years I coached my sons in football, basketball, baseball and soccer. Looking back, those years were some of the best years of my life.
Back then, I wondered if the rat race of chasing kids to ball games and practices would ever end. Now, I wonder how they flew by so fast.
Lately, my sweet, little wife has slowly been starting on the garage again. And I have been checking the trash daily.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.