Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

America is a nation founded on the acquisition of stuff

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An object in possession seldom retains the same charm that it had in pursuit.

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– Pliny the Younger, 100 B.C.

Let me simplify American history.

We are a nation, a society, an economic system founded on the acquisition of stuff.

Most of our ancestors came to this country because they didn’t have stuff back home and thought they might find it here.

We fought the king for our independence because we had begun to accumulate some stuff, but he wanted a share.

“Keep your monarchy mitts off our stuff,” Patrick Henry shouted, although Thomas Jefferson wrote the declaration much more diplomatically.

You can review your history lessons and read about life and liberty, but we all know it’s “pursuit of happiness” that inspires the American dream and revs the American engine.

That explains why our country leads the planet in rental storage units and little backyard buildings guarding our goodies.

That explains why we park a $30,000 vehicle in the driveway because there is no room left in our junk-filled garages.

That’s explains why we have a new rule at my house: Whatever you now bring in, you have to take out something else of comparable weight and size.

It had to be done. We were just full up.

I had taken to cramming junk in the basement for fear one night the overloaded attic would collapse, crushing us beneath the weight of forgotten childhood toys and two decades of accumulated Christmas decorations.

But the attic isn’t the latest problem, it’s the closet.

Ten years ago the rail for the hangers in our bedroom’s longish walk-in wardrobe collapsed under the weight of suits, sweaters, dresses, shirts, jackets, coats, pants and neckties.

Carpenters were summoned.

Carpenters replaced and reinforced the rail.

And last month it collapsed again. (Sigh.)

Getting older hasn’t helped.

When you’re young, you outgrow clothes and outlast styles.

When you’re old, you don’t outgrow anything. You only hope to wear it out, which ... doesn’t happen.

And maturity brings other problems: We keep things, for example, not because we’re greedy -- we keep them because someday we think we might need them again.

That’s why we save old bread bags, empty jelly jars and Cool Whip containers (with lids).

That’s also why I have five hammers and three dozen screwdrivers and old coffee cans full of assorted screws and collected nails. That’s why I have a backyard lumber pile.

Hopefully, they’ll all get some use this weekend.

My wife wants that closet hanger rail fixed.


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