What We Found in the Garage

Everybody’s garage holds some mix of trash and treasure; ours is slightly more interesting — to me, at any rate — because it also holds boxes and bags of things saved by Tony’s parents. They didn’t move often, but when they did, apparently, not a lot of weeding or sorting happened first. So cookbooks and ticket stubs and artwork and bills and jewelry and newspaper clippings and silverware all wound up in boxes together, and here we are, years later, still finding surprises.

A large plastic tub of crumpled newspaper. On closer inspection, the crumpled newspaper was protecting small clay objects: Pre-Colombian pottery from Tony’s parents’ art collection. Glad I didn’t toss it into the recycling.

A bag of cat litter. We don’t have a cat. Tony’s parents never had a cat.

2 small Calphalon saucepans (one with a lid!)

The 2 backseat headrests for our Hyundai.

Tony’s 1st and 2nd grade report cards. He did very well.

One large, square copper plate for etching. Unetched.

Tony’s grandfather’s real estate license.

3 silver trays.

A checkbook-sized magnetic Scrabble game (excellent!)

Copies of the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and L’Italia, dated November 23, 1963, reporting on JFK’s assassination.

A wine notebook, with tasting notes from the 1950s and 60s.

Boxes of slides from European travels, circa 1950.

A small cardboard box containing Remington cartridges, apparently from the previous owner of this house. Need to call SFPD for information on disposing of these.

A binder with notes, sketches, and a full proposal for a sculpture titled “Flying Flag” that Tony’s dad submitted to San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency hotel (a hotel that had previously commissioned a sculpture from him).

Tony’s grandmother’s journal for 1938, kept in a leather-bound “Business Yearbook” embossed with her husband’s name. This treasure deserves fuller examination; in the meantime, a brief excerpt:

Thursday, April 21, 1938

[Tony’s mother Nancy was 11; her brother Geoffrey a year younger]

Usual school day. Nancy had a French lesson at 3:10 P.M. Went to Dr. Dillon’s office at 4:30 PM. Geoffrey played at home after school. Nancy has 4 new petticoates — length 38 in., size 14.
Breakfast: orange juice, oatmeal, bacon, toast, milk
Lunch: steak, c. potatoes [creamed?], beans, spinach, rhubarb, milk, cake
Supper: tomato soup, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, jello, cake, milk

We have a long way to go, but we might some day be able to park both cars in the garage. In the meantime, I’m going to be reading Tony’s grandmother’s journal and unearthing more about family life in the 1930s. Stay tuned…


  1. kate says:

    Wow, how neat! Decluttering at my house is not nearly so interesting…

  2. Libby says:

    Oh, that’s fascinating! (Was the cat litter for traction on ice, maybe?)

  3. Margaret says:

    Well, when you de-clutter our house, you can read the letters and journals of Lydia Deshon (b. 1760); her daughter Lydia Cezanne (b.5/21/1791); her daughter Rosetta (b.3/22/1818) orphaned at age 12; her daughter Rosetta (b.1/4/1842); her daughter Rose (b.10/17/1871); her sister-in-law Carrie Brownell (b.6/3/1833); her daughter (my mother) Caroline, (b.12/12/1903)!