A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Junk Drawers: Another Treasure Trove of Memories

Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium en.wikipedia.org/wiki...
Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundaneum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
       What normal house doesn't have at least one junk drawer?   You are undoubtedly familiar with what I'm talking about--that catchall place for the quick deposit of those things that linger between the trashcan and the destination of organized usefulness.  It's the convenient drawer where you can just toss things temporarily until you can figure out what to do with them later.

        When I was growing up, the main junk drawer in our house was in the kitchen.  Opening that drawer was sometimes like opening one of those joke nut cans that have the spring-loaded snakes that jump out. The drawer was often stuffed with an array of things my mother would shove in there to hide them away until she was ready to reorganize the drawer in order to start anew.  That organization job seemed to be a chore that was always put on delay until necessity deemed it to be done.

       This is where the ingenuity of being a kid came into play along with my mother's sly trick of making delegated housework pay off for me while giving me something to keep me occupied.   When I was old enough to start caring about such things, I became aware that the kitchen junk drawer held things of value like loose change.  That money was a bonanza for a kid like me who was getting a twenty-five cent a week allowance.  Periodically when that drawer got so stuffed that there it was difficult to open or close, I would make a deal with my mother.   I'd clean and organize the drawer if I could keep all the change.   This deal always worked for me unless my sister happened to beat me to it.  She rarely did.

        Organizing the junk drawer was actually a multiplicitous activity of which the main part was separating the trading stamps and putting them in their appropriate books.  Anyone who lived prior to the 1970's undoubtedly remembers the ubiquitous trading stamps that businesses gave away when customers made purchases from them.  There were the S & H Green, Top Value, Blue Chip, and other trading stamps.  It was a sort of early version of the loyalty programs that many businesses have today or the points given by credit cards.   The customer could accumulate the stamps into books and then redeem the filled books for merchandise offered at the trading stamp outlet stores.

      The stamps were like money and well worth keeping. It meant a lot of work licking and sticking these things in the books.  That became my job since I was more than willing to do it.   And since I was playing such a vital role in the savings stamp enterprise, my mother always let me peruse the catalogs to help decide what products to acquire when redeeming the stamps.   Good kid that I was I usually suggested items that would be useful for the household, but a few times my mother encouraged me to pick out something for myself.   I never had an argument with that.

     The stamps were the major items that created the explosive overflow of the drawers. Once those were dealt with the rest of the drawer was a matter of putting things in their place.  Unneeded receipts, coupons, and other papers would be thrown in the trash.  I was very careful about what I threw away, and I became quite discerning about what was not needed.  Once all the paper items were discarded, neatly stacked, or given to my mother for her to put in a more suitable place, the volume of substance in the drawer had been greatly reduced.

     The drawer also contained an assortment of odds and ends such as small tools (screwdrivers and pliers), hardware (nails, tacks, screws, and such), the occasional small toy, and almost always there were a few birthday candles.  All of these things would either be put in more appropriate places or merely placed more neatly in the drawer.  What was left?  The loose change of course!  I would gather up my found bounty and count my take for the day.  Usually it was over a dollar.   Not bad for a kid back in the 60's.

      I was able to do this job once every couple of months or so.  The money supplemented my other income rather nicely and I felt a sense of satisfaction in helping my mother to make our house a little neater.  There were other junk drawers that I would sometimes tackle even though those rarely contained loose change.  Organizing was something I enjoyed doing so I didn't mind the job.  And I would sometimes find very interesting things that would preoccupy my mind for a few minutes at least.

      Then there were the other personal junk drawers each family member had in their bedrooms.  My parents had theirs in nightstands beside their bed.  Those were supposed to be off limits to me and my sister, but now and then curiosity would lure us to sneak a peek.  My sister had her own drawer in her dresser.   And I had my junk drawer--or should I say treasure drawer--in my dresser.

       These days my wife and I have our own junk drawers throughout the house.   Accumulating small things has become easier in our times.  Those plastic storage drawers and bins are in many places in our home.  The options for storage available to consumers in our age make it easier to create a semblance--or should I say illusion--of order and organization.  But they are still junk drawers.   Now we just have more of them and I guess that usually means more junk or whatever you want to call it.

        Do you have catchall temporary storage drawers in your home?   Where do you normally stash stuff when you're in too big of a hurry to officially organize it?   Did your family collect and cash in trading stamps?  Who was the official junk drawer organizer in your parents' house when you were growing up?  


Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. I thought the junk drawer was in every kitchen. I even made a special drawer in all kitchens I've ever had, just for junk. Right now one contains take out/delivery menus and toothpicks. But the drawer in my file cabinet has become the catch all. And don't even look in the drawers of my craft room....But I am pretty organized so I don't let paper accumulate. Paid bills and papers immediately go into their respective folders in the file cabinet.

  2. Those junk drawers held everything you could possibly need! I wish we had one here... we don't have anything.

  3. I've had a junk drawer in every house I've lived in, they're invaluable for 'maybe I might need this one day' stuff. I used to get the kids to organize ours as you did, and I'd save little boxes for the tiny bits: nails, screws, small tools, colored pens, rubber bands,etc.

    For the small change, we had a change jar. My brother and I also used to scour the car seats and the couch seats for small change.

    My current junk drawer is in the kitchen - every domicile must have one. And yeah, every couple of years, you need to review them.

    Hope your weekend is great, Lee!

  4. It seems we have a junk drawer in every room that has a drawer. My husband has one in his dresser that I like to clean because he throws all his change in there. I think we could vacation in Hawaii on all his change -- or at least have a nice dinner.

    The one in the kitchen holds all the crap that builds up around the kitchen. I clean it out about once a year, maybe twice. The bigger items go on top of the fridge and that needs cleaning much more frequently.

    I don't think I ever thought to clean out the junk drawer as a kid. One of my older siblings probably did it. The way we got extra money was looking for and turning in coke/soda bottles..

  5. Junk drawer is fine. Now, when you start having a junk ROOM ...

  6. JoJo-- Yes! Those menus have become a mainstay of many junk drawers these days. There weren't many fast food or take-out options when I was younger so we never had the menus. Now I have many.

    CW --- You could always make up a junk box!

    DG -- The car seats and couch were another great resource for me as well. I was always on the lookout for a new place to find money.

    Thea -- I never cashed in soda bottles to often since it was difficult for me to transport them on my own. We did save them and my mother would take them in for redemption when we accumulated enough.

    Kelly -- My garage is turning into a junk room and my office is threatening the same. I know exactly what you're talking about.


  7. Dear Lee, the official junk drawer in my home when I was young was the top drawer of the buffet. Today, I have two junk drawers--one in the kitchen and one in the living room.

    I so remember those green S & H stamps. When I left the convent and needed to set up housekeeping, my dad took me to an S&H outlet store and I got an electric mixer. I used it for almost 40 years. It was avocado green--a popular color in the '60s! Thanks for bringing back that memory. Peace.

  8. We have two small drawers in the hall and a china hen in the kitchen. My husband is the hoarder in our house I'm the one who gets rid of 'Stuff' I go through phases of collecting things then get bored and have to clear the stuff out.

    As one gets older you begin to wonder why you need so much of it... Well, I do.

  9. I have two such junk drawers in my kitchen. Arlee you reminded me about those green little stamps my Mom used to collect. I can't recall from what store she would received them though. I have all sorts of containers that I buy (I'm a sucker for a pretty container) and many of them are empty.

  10. I confess, I have two junk drawers in the kitchen. One is for food related items and the other is for tool related items. I try to go through them every other month but fail miserably. Those birthday candles seem to multiply in there.

  11. Yep, definitely a junk drawer in the kitchen but who knew anyone organised them :-)

  12. Dee -- Your Green Stamp redemption paid off well!

    Paula -- I'm starting to wonder the same thing. I'm cleaning slowly but surely.

    Wanda -- Those plastic containers were a great invention--or were they?

    Elsie -- At least you have some sense of organization. And what's with those birthday candles anyway?

    Pauleen -- Times of organization are few and far between at my mother's house now that I'm no longer around there. I have several storage places in my house that haven't been looked at in years.



Tell your story. Express your thoughts. We want to hear from you. This blog no longer accepts comments from "Anonymous"--That guy is really starting to bug this blog. If you want to leave me a comment then please register if you aren't already--it's easy to do and I really want to hear from you.

Arlee Bird