Starr Gazing

Dr. Dan Starr
Retired Director of Athletics and Professor Emeritus of American History at Canisius College.


Too much STUFF

Downsizing, a fairly new term, seems to have become immensely popular. It’s in vogue with people living longer and living in a home that once also housed a few children, who now have fled the nest. Downsizing means you have less living space, eg instead of a 7 bathroom house in Clarence, or a 4 bedroom, two story, in a suburb, it means you are moving to a patio home or a small ranch, or an adult living condo.

Essentially downsizing means you want to divest yourselves of “stuff”, you need to get rid of much of what you have accumulated over the years. And there’s a rub. Stuff means things you don’t want or need anymore and some stuff owners are under a deep Illusion because they think others, eg some “poor souls”, are eager to get their hands on their stuff.

Some excellent columns have been written recently about stuff and downsizing. I decided to enter the fray. Having served considerable time in academia I’m aware of stuff meaning books. Hundreds of volumes in a home library are common.

Here’s an example. Professor Ignatz Bieronski decides to move to a two bedroom bungalow. 60 years earlier he was a young chemistry teacher with a fondness for history and literature. He bought some classics, and also found he could receive some “desk” copies free of assorted publications in academia. He also visited old book stores where he picked up some volumes, most with soiled, wrinkled pages and grimy covers. The home library grew, some books were never read, some never even opened. They were stashed away in rarely visited attics, eventually to be labeled”stuff”.

Eventually it became time to move to a smaller home, a place with no library, just a few bookshelves. The process of downsizing begins. You begin to try to get rid of books, you never even recognized. But you soon find that no one really wants your old , or new books. University libraries refuse to accept donations. Community libraries have no use or no space for your Stuff.

Many years ago , I boxed up a set of encyclopedias. I had considered them precious as a child. I set them all at the entrance to a local school, assuming the principal would consider my gift, a godsend. An hour later as I sat in the parking lot, I watched with surprise and horror as the complete set was tossed in the dumpster. Thus google or Wikipedia have replaced encyclopedias, as well as most books, newspapers, and reading material.

So much for books. What about all the other stuff.

Garage sales and estate sales used to be popular but now they are considered questionable sources for disposable items.

Of course, you can simply try to give your stuff to your family , even stuff that you considered family heirlooms, more valuable than almighty cash. Even this has become increasingly difficult. Your kids have different lifestyles. They don’t want grandmas old bed lamps or settees.

Remember that fine glassware, the cocktail glasses so vital for your entertainment in the 1960s. No takers in 2023. How about viewing some city mission residents sipping liqueurs in the finest crystal glasses saying: “yes, I will ill have another Drambuie with my goulash!” How about fine China, like the Noritake plates I sent my Mom from Japan in 1954? Sorry,, Toss them. Not wanted.

How about art, like a facsimile , a copy. of the Mona Lisa. Once an invaluable possession. A weekend browser of stuff was asked about this art. Her response “ Mona who”?

More examples. Sports stuff seems to be sought items. well maybe!

Sports paraphernalia - tons of it that has been lying around in attics and basements since the original users achieved a semblance of adulthood. Wooden skis , at least 7 foot length, used by the likes of Dr Dick Munschauer, at lake placid in 1932. Sorry, they maybe of some historic value, but now, they are just stuff to get rid of. How about that leather football helmet worn by Sonny Savarino when he played wide out for the champion Kensington high team in 1949.

Some old jock stuff might have a good market, for instance Frank Dinan’s old baseball cap, soiled, threadbare, giving off smelly odors of Wild Root Cream Oil, Charlie and worn at more that 300 ball games at Schiller Park. Labeled priceless!

A bowling ball used by Tom Harkens at the Sheridan lanes in a Ned Day 1959 classic. A wooden shaft mashie niblick used by Bob McPartland in the Grover Cleveland handicap. Bob came in at just 49 over par.

A few more items too , possibly worth something. A sailboat, with Jib, sailed by Frank Eberl, across Lake Erie from Silver Bay to Presque Isle.

A stool from the Everglades, worn out by overuse by Mike Davis and a similar stool used by DD or Klu at Lerczaks during binges out the lakeshore.

Another area of excess stash - clothes. Ties? What’s a tie? But old sweatshirts properly marked , eg Bills, Sabres, the Sloan Slouches, the New York Yankees, can bring some value. Mike Adowski has a priceless Checkers sweatshirt discolored from massive beer spills, a few cigarette burns and some smears of gravy from beef on wecks. So do shirts from little known college teams, eg Canisius women’s crew, Niagara hockey, and Siena rifle may be hot items. A sweatshirt with the Wellington pub, bearing its founding date, 1983, would be almost sacred.

There may well be some items you think are of continuing value , but, of which, younger generations are ignorant. How about this? A Family Bible was part of “stuff” for sale recently at a home on the Westside. A generation X dude shuffles by, looks at it, asks who wrote It , and if it were a recent publication? Or at another nearby site, a recent grad of Vassar, sees an ancient Underwood typewriter! She thinks it’s nice because she heard it was actually part of the engine of a Model T ford.

Maybe that exposes part of the problem. There are just too many young people making too much money and acquiring too much “stuff”.

Final note: Eberl iron works , Sycamore St, downtown. Now at 100, growing, thriving , integral to the Buffalo Scene. Congratulations Geo and Frank helping Dad many for many years. Now, next generation, Nora and John, controlling the business, in good hands.

Back to After 50 Home Page