Friday, May 12, 2006

Left Behind

Every so often you see stories about people moving into homes and finding money or other treasures left behind by the former owners. The new owners can keep the stuff because they bought the property and everything in it. I didn't find anything cool in my house, just some dust bunnies and a very weird looking angel that is cemented to my bedroom door.

My brother once moved into an apartment which was empty except for 3 jars of Russian Borscht in the fridge. I guess it was either an oversight or perhaps a parting gift left by the former occupant.

On other occasions I have found interesting or shocking "left behind" objects. A few times in my life I have helped clear out homes for elderly relatives who either were moving to a nursing home or their final abode.

When I was 10, Grandma moved to a nursing facility; her apartment was veritable trove of oddities. Aside from the neatly piled shoe boxes brim full of money ($900) and the folders of True Confessions magazine, there were some books of a decidely adult nature. I found those in her closet and showed my 16 year old brother. He could never really look Grandma in the eyes after that.

A few years later we emptied my great aunt and uncle's home. There were no adult items, that I recall. But there was a room under the stairs filled with liquor, shelf after shelf of whiskey, scotch, vermouth and vodka -- like 50 bottles of all kinds of booze. Also on the shelves there were several old-style ladies traveling cases which held handguns, brass knuckles and bullets. When I found the one filled with bullets, I thought they were sample lipsticks. I took one out and ran to show my Mom and she just about had a heart attack, because I was trying to open if with a knife to get at the lipstick.

I guess that little room was some of the booty my uncle had collected from his days as a Cook County Courts employee. He had something to do with setting all the judges schedules. I guess he got a lot of "gifts" back in the day. The stash was especially funny because my uncle didn't drink anything but wine and at 80 rarely had use for the unregistered handguns or brass knuckles. I don't know what he was saving this stuff for, it was all neatly arranged, no dust or cobwebs.

Perhaps the weirdest find I had was pretty recent. This relative was a very dignified, well groomed man who kept a neat house. He was a "everything in it's place" sort of guy. His personal papers were in beautiful order and every linen he owned was neatly folded. Love letters he had exchanged with his wife during WWII were stored in his top nightstand drawer -- I guess he kept them right where he could read them. The letters were a wonderful find.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the drawer below the "love letter" drawer. There, in this fairly large drawer, scattered among business cards he had collected, were hundreds of toe nail clippings. Oh God, it still gives me the willies. What was he thinking? Was this his one little bit of grossness? Did he just think it was easy to clip into the drawer? Could this tremendous stash be used to clone him -- I just don't know.

All this musing on things left behind makes me wonder about myself. Either I'd better make sure every place I inhabit is entirely sanitized before I move or that I make a conscious effort to leave something behind. What will it be, a case of kraut juice in the fridge or my collection of LOVE IS cartoons? On second thought, before I do anything else, I had better pry that weird angel from by bedroom door --- I don't want anyone to think I left that behind.


At 5:02 PM, Blogger Isabell said...

When I moved into an old house in Stickney, we found a panther statue (probably worth a lot of money but we thought it tacky) and a scary baby doll in our attic. When I moved into the place I'm in now, I received a tank of butane, a crock pot, and a jar of pickled something--I don't remember what. I think the crock pot is a great idea--everyone's got one, why move it? Just leave it where it is, much like those bikes they have in cities that are for communal use.


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