Considering the decline of so much else, it might come as no surprise that interest in collecting and nearly anything old isn’t what it used to be.
The outlook isn’t good for survival of the collections, furniture and more of baby boomers as they age and downsize. Millennials will often just throw that stuff away.
Lifestyles are more transient and home décor styles more open and casual, so there is less interest in bulky wooden or upholstered furniture, big mirrors and the like once passed down from one generation to the next.
The same appears to be true for boxes of old letters, old books and other family keepsakes taking up space in attics, closets and basements.
The Internet is largely to blame for the demise of collecting. Online market places like eBay have made hard to find items readily available, thus lessening the fun of discovering or having them and also bringing down their monetary value.
Commentators have described how the Internet created a preference for newness and a shift away from anything old. To some, contemporary represents optimism and old conjures up the opposite.
Peggy Day’s comments in this issue about the lack of interest in collectible dolls and antiques in connection with the closure of her Melody Stores in North Wilkesboro affirm this.
A recent conversation with Joe McMillan, who has collected everything from matchbooks to coins, made me think about the many things I’ve collected over the years.
My stamp and baseball card collections paled compared to those of elementary school peers, but I still have those and likely too many other collections.
I still have collections of Coca Cola bottle caps with pictures of pro football players on the underside, arrowheads, comic books, Boy Scout camporee and other patches, old soft drink bottles and political campaign buttons, including “President Nixon. Now more than ever” buttons.
For some reason, I still have most of the personal letters I ever received.
Added to this are some of my father’s collections, including his dozens of Big Little Books from the late 1930s and 1940s. These books, roughly 4 ½ inches long, over 3 inches wide and about an inch and a half thick, recount the adventures of heroes like Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy; World War II-inspired characters such as Tailspin Tommy and Mac of the Marines; and cowboy stars like Tom Mix and Gene Autry. Plus, there are the many Disney and other comical characters.
I’ve been trying to organize two trunks of old family letters, papers and photos, including tin-type photos of people around Wilkesboro and the area (some our kin and some not) with no identification.
My father retrieved many of these from a pile of debris his no-nonsense grandmother was burning.
My thinking is that organizing these items, many going back well into the 1800s, will give them more meaning and improve their chances of survival.
Perhaps someone will appreciate them one day when so much else from the past has been thrown away.