My dad was well known for going to the dump empty and coming home with a full load. And I got that gene. As my collection of stuff has grown, the attic, garage, workshop, upstairs bedrooms, and my office have been stuffed with — well, stuff. All good stuff, you understand.

But a while ago Linda and I decided it would be a good time to reduce our collection of stuff. Unfortunately, she is focused on my stuff. Not long ago she asked, “George, do you really need 14 fly rods?” Well, yes I do!

We started this project in the attic, where she has a lot of bins of cloth, much of it from her mom, who owned a sewing shop. And Linda does do a lot of sewing, so I guess she needs all those bins. But hey, I do a lot of fishing!

I weeded out lots of photographs, giving many to the folks who are in them, but I’ve still got six large containers of albums and photos in the attic, along with a bin of Super 8 home movies. Remember them? I’ve also got a projector and screen so we can watch them. A few years ago I did have the best movies of the kids growing up put on CDs. But of course, I kept the movies too.

The two bedrooms upstairs are full of stuff too, including about 50 framed paintings and photographs piled in one corner. We rotate them through the house from time to time, and it’s really hard to part with any.

I had to admit that I have a massive collection of fishing lures and flies, most of which I never use. I’ve given some to the kids and grandkids, but there is still a lot and I’m not sure I can part with any of them. And trust me, I need every single piece of hunting gear I’ve got stored upstairs.


In the workshop, where I had tools and other stuff inherited from my dad and Linda’s dad, I’ve set aside lots of tools I don’t need and begun giving them away. But I insist on keeping my huge collection of nails. You never know what you’re going to need for nails, right?

Also in the workshop is my lifetime collection of political signs, bumper stickers, and buttons. I even have a bag full of Bill Cohen’s original brochures, used in his first campaign for Congress in 1972. I was Bill’s driver in that campaign, and in the brochure is a photo of Bill and me on the front steps of the Bangor Public Library. So of course, I can’t part with those.

A month ago I tackled the long table in the garage, filled with everything from fans to motor oil. I was stunned to discover I have nine cans of deicer. Can’t imagine how that happened. On one garage wall, shelving is full of Linda’s gardening stuff. No going there. And that stuff has now creeped over into my section of the garage.

Of course, we’ve still got collections of our kids’ stuff, even though they only visit here occasionally now. Got instructions from them to hold onto to all of it. Guess they got that gene.

And then there are my books. Yes, I love books. Three years ago when I purchased a new bookshelf, Linda proclaimed that it would be my last, and it was. Painfully, a couple months ago, I weeded out books and took them to our library where most of them were sold for — gasp! — $1. But don’t worry, if you looked at my book shelves, you wouldn’t know I’d gotten rid of any.

One favorite book is autographed by Nelson Rockefeller. One time when we were away, our dog chewed the cover and first page off the book, stopping just before the page with Rockefeller’s autograph. And I have a wonderful collection of Maine authors, including an original autographed copy of Gene Letourneau’s first book, and all of William Clark’s books. Gene and Bill were my writing heroes.


My dad was well known for his letters to the editor. When he died, I found that he’d kept them all in folders, organized by decade. I got that gene too. I’ve been writing weekly editorial page columns in this newspaper for 27 years, and, yes, I’ve got copies of all those columns.

One of my biggest challenges is my collection of stuff in my home office, including four big buck mounts. When the three kids were here a while back, I pointed to the four mounts and said, “Good news, there’s one buck mount for each of you.” Daughter Hilary spoke for all three when she said, “Oh, I don’t know Dad. Those will go in your museum.”

Boy, did I love the idea of my own museum.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at

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