When I was young I had a small wooden box, a souvenir from a family trip to the giant redwoods. We drove through a hole in one of the trees and stayed overnight in a cabin infused with the wood-sap-green perfume of the forest that surrounded us.
Inside my box I kept:
1. A polished orange agate
2. A worn Canadian quarter with a moose on one side
3. A dark red matchbook from a fancy restaurant
4. A small magnifying glass in a black plastic frame
5. A brass pocket knife
6. A four cent stamp with Abraham Lincoln’s picture on it
7. A fingernail trimmer
I had a portable record player and a collection of 45 rpm records with pictures of the artists on the paper sleeves. Elvis! I had picture books of nursery rhymes, jungle animals, Peter Pan, automobiles, a school book with illustrations of Columbus discovering the new world, children’s poetry and comic books. I had baseball cards of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sandy Koufax! I had a set of small rocks glued onto a cardboard mounting, each underscored with their names and geographic origins.
I had a half-dozen or so stuffed animals who shared my bed.
I had drawers full of inconsequential objects such as red rubber bands from Sunday newspapers, paperclips, a bottle of dried-up glue, spare change, pens and pencils, a ruler, a small plastic stapler and scattered staples, a Scotch tape dispenser, assorted notepads, folders, three-ring binders, old birthday cards, Christmas cards sent to my family and forgotten photographs taken when we were all dressed up for some holiday. We always had to face the sun “for the light,” but my baby blue eyes have always been very sensitive, so I am squinting like actor Clint Eastwood in all my childhood photographs. “You get to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”
I had plastic guns and rifles, dozens of small metal cars—Dinky Toys—with real rubber tires, and a few hastily glued model airplanes.
I had a closet full of clothing picked out by my mother and drawers of white and tight underwear, assorted socks that would not stay up and pajamas decorated with jungle beasts riding carousels. I had ancient pairs of worn tennis shoes and rarely worn dress shoes that made blisters on my heels.
I had a red and white Schwinn bicycle with large tires. I attached playing cards to the spokes to make the bike sound like a motorcycle. When I attached a balloon it sounded even better, but the balloon would soon pop.
So many possessions for such a young boy, and yet so few compared to this adult life where the clutter of so many years of accumulation dims the childhood wonder I had when everything was new. My first yo-yo, candy apple red. My first guitar, made of plastic. It would not stay tuned. My first record player. It came in a portable metal case. My first camera, a Kodak Brownie camera that I used to take fuzzy, oddly colored pictures of our cats.
So many possessions, year after year. Now it’s just so much stuff, gathering dust, waiting to be dispersed after I die, when I’m finally free from all these things.
Russ Allison Loar’s writing has appeared in the anthology Heart Of A Man, Bryant Literary Review, High Shelf Press, Bright Flash Literary Review, Abstract Magazine, Evening Street Review, Poetry In The Cathedral anthology, Telling Our Stories Press anthology, and others.