Sued51's Blog

flashMy youngest brother swears my father had a “Flash”#1 comic book. He told me that in excellent condition it is worth over $100,000. “Then why aren’t we finding it right now?” I asked.

If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that my much-loved father was somewhat of a hoarder.  I wax non-grammatical and say “somewhat” because it was never as bad as on the “Hoarders” TV show (and I loved him too much to put that label on him), but believe me…there’s a LOT of stuff.  My brother believes that particular treasure is in the attic of our mother’s house, so yesterday we spent a couple of hours dragging out box after box looking for THE comic book.

The boxes that were regular books had to be moved out of the way. There were magazines in piles that also had to be moved aside. “I’m sure we’ll find it in the boxes at the end,” my brother said. AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, I said to myself.

Thanks goodness the weather wasn’t hot, but I can’t say I could breathe very well with the dust, spider webs and mouse droppings. Insert nose and mouth into shirt collar. There was no guarantee that if we found it, it hadn’t been chewed to pieces. The boxes were heavy and I had to carry them in a bent-over position because the attic isn’t high enough to stand up straight. But…as there are a few of us that need the money, I quietly carried on with the end result in mind.

We finally reached the “mother load;” he let me know which boxes had comic books in them and I brought those downstairs. We finally began looking through them. My father loved the artwork on the “Conan” books and some other comics that aren’t very popular. He had many Disney ones and Archies; many of the comics were newer ones (from the 60s or 70s). But…there were some from the 30s and 40s mixed in: Rin Tin Tin and “War Heroes.” “They’re mixed up,” my brother said, “we have to look through all of them.”

So we did…and…WAIT FOR IT: it wasn’t there.

My brother found HIS “Spiderman” #1 and #2 that he thought my other brother had taken from him years ago. We also found my great-aunt’s clock during the clearing of the path, which my mother had been looking for, but no “Flash.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t in a shed, the basement, or who knows where else, but it wasn’t with most of the other comic books. If it is in a shed or the basement, there is even less chance it is a sale-able condition.

My brother went home with his “Spiderman” comics, and I went home tired, dirty and disappointed, but it had made me think (and given me this blog).

I don’t gamble, because I feel it is a waste of money. Yet I was willing to waste 6 hours that I could have used looking for a REAL job, on what is really just another get-rich-quick scheme. Hoarders always think they have something special and most of the time, they don’t.

BTW, my father did have “Batman” #1 and “Superman” #1 comics that he sold many years ago when he was out of work and needed to feed his family. They did come in handy, but they didn’t make him rich. Who knows, maybe he sold his “Flash” during some other tough time my brother doesn’t know about, maybe he didn’t. Maybe we’ll find it one day or maybe we won’t, but I’m not holding my now dusty breath.

I have always enjoyed collections that tell an observer something about the collector’s life.  Examples from my mother’s day include collections of spoons or glasses with state names; I have collected Christmas ornaments from places I’ve visited and have a bowl of matchbooks from restaurants or events I attended.

It is ironic that I picked up the matchbook collecting habit, considering that I am not a smoker, and to be honest, I’m one of those clumsy people who is a bit afraid of lighting matches.  However, I saw someone else’s collection displayed in a coffee table bowl and loved the colors and designs.  And best of all for me, they didn’t cost anything!

With the advent of laws against smoking in restaurants, disposable lighters, and fewer people with the habit, my matchbook collecting days have reached their end.  I still look whenever I go to a new restaurant, but without much luck.  One time I thought I had scored one only to open the “matchbook” and discover toothpicks.

The other day when my mother was sorting through things at her house she came across a matchbook from one of my friends’ weddings.  She gave it to me for my collection.  As I put it in the bowl I sifted through and found my own from the same wedding as well as several others.  I love wedding matches —  usually a white background with the couple’s first names and wedding date in their “wedding” color.  I took a quick trip down memory lane, feeling a little sadness as some of the couples have since separated or divorced; their marriages like the matches, now a remnant of the past.

It occurred to me that the wedding matchbook tradition will completely fade away in the 21st century as a result of the no smoking laws, thus making it a “dated” collectible, like so many others, although not worth a thing to anyone but the person who collected them.  I supposed someday I will just toss them out.  For me, it’s time to come up with a new item to collect.

My desire to simplify and clean out has coincided with my desire (and need) for extra money.  I would have thought this was serendipitous, but…NO.

Posting things on Craig’s List has only led to Spam or responses reading, “If you want someone to take it off your hands, I’ll take it for FREE.”  Selling on Ebay?  I don’t like paying a fee and a lot of the stuff I need or want to get rid of is too big to mail or ship, or just plain not worth it.  I’ve got shelves of stuff in the garage put aside for a yard sale that hasn’t happened; my husband wants me to prepare for it by pricing and organizing things, not just throwing them out in the driveway.  Yes, I’ll get around to that…

My father was a saver (the PC word for hoarder).  It paid off for him at one point in this life when he was unemployed and was able to sell his childhood comic books to support our family for a year, but that was a long time ago.  We’re discovering he also held onto a lot of things only because he thought they were useful: jars, boxes, etc.  I’m not surprised no one wants those things; they go off to recycling without a second thought. (We loved him too much to just toss them.)

Many of the memorabilia items he saved are worth a little (i.e., between $30-$50), but that isn’t much considering the time needed for researching, posting, monitoring, and shipping that would be required to hold an auction on Ebay, or the time that would be spent trying to find the right “niche audience” elsewhere.

Like my father, I have saved a lot of oddball things. What…no one wants my RC cola cans with baseball players on them? REM trading cards, anyone? Ok…I get that, but what about my beautiful wool cape that I splurged on 15 years ago?  I would still wear it, out of style or not, if it fit me, but unfortunately I will never be that small again.  That reminds me — I tried the consignment route before and ended up not bothering to pick up the clothes after they didn’t sell.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t an average size in my younger years (size 4 is small for most people), which is also a reason there were less buyers.  So, I’m learning about the law of supply and demand the hard way.

The psychological part is really hard; it’s difficult to get comfortable with money that I now see as “thrown away” on what I thought were quality items.  It’s also difficult to get past the same mentality my father had: it is still a useful item; we don’t need more in the landfills.  I don’t mind giving to someone I personally know who needs help, especially when I think they will actually use what I gave them, but I can’t give something away to a stranger on Craig’s list; I can’t get past the feeling that I’m being taken because they will figure out a way to sell it and make the money that I can’t.  Swaps are great, but again, there has to be a demand.

This is an eye-opening time in my life. In the end, I will continue to hold onto some things and donate others — at least I can get a tax credit — but these days I sure could use a small fraction of the money back and it is hard to recognize that was a pipe dream.

et cetera
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