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The junk drawer (04/06/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
Everyone has them! It's the first and the last place you look when you need that whatchamacallit. Your initial search is swift and reckless, the drawer left in a helter-skelter disarray! So you look where the doohickey is supposed to be, which turns up, not the thing you want now, but that paint scraper you needed a week ago. Now you have about five of them - somewhere!

You probably could discover a lot about a person by the looks of his or her catchall drawers. If immaculate types even have such unsightly places in their homes, I can picture everything categorized and labeled, along with sign-out tags for safe return. A multitasker would have an organized mess, knowing exactly what to lift, push or open in order to grab what a family member is rummaging for.

During my childhood years, such cubbyholes would have supplies quite different from today's. As I searched for a shoehorn this morning, I recalled an abundance in drawers back home, along with shotgun shells for Dad's 4-10 from squirrel hunting, the mysterious assortment of skeleton keys, rubber-banded stacks of Betty Crocker coupons, Little Miss Sunbeam plastic wrappers and twist ties, directions for Mom's food grinder assembly, and Dad's incense cones pungently smelling up the kitchen drawer.

A drawer Pat and I have moved from home to home is one from Mother's treadle, Singer sewing machine. A put-and-take thing, that metallic scented drawer has supplied us with odds and ends of small tools and hardware for 42 years!

One man's junk is another man's treasure! As the parts gal for our Lewiston Surge Service store from 1986 to 1996, I had to make sure that components were on hand for the farmers' equipment. For the few that still milked their cows with the metal pneumatic pulsators, I was in deep dodo if my tackle box drawers were short on parts!

Most items that occupied our junk drawers when we were first married have been weeded out. Gone are those sets of cuff links and necktie bars Pat received from weddings he was in, along with the boys' football mouth guards, a variety of Lewiston Days pins, perm curlers, a rectal thermometer, and oodles of church keys (bottle openers.)

Today there is a great divide between redneck junk drawers and velvet-lined, mahogany vanity boxes. A collection of outdated lottery tickets, stubs from Larry the Cable Guy's recent concert, a 1995 Hooter's calendar, and beer keg deposit slips wouldn't likely occupy space with a matchbook from Trump Towers, a diamond-studded bellybutton ring, a guide to fine wines, and a free pass from "¯Heff"¯ to the Bunny Nightclub.

Up at our camper in Chetek, Wisconsin, we supplied a kitchen drawer with odds and ends upon moving in for the long haul. Everything one could possibly need in a rugged, wooded, lake area is in there. A sewing kit came in handy at least once. The candles have been big! There's lots of handy just-in-case stuff, but iron-on patches, pairs of brown and white shoelaces, a nose plug, a "Thanks for not smoking"¯ sign, an arm sling, wart remover, hairnet, a collapsible flyswatter, and firecrackers! What was I thinking!

The singing fish found its way to a top shelf in the camper bedroom, no longer the hilarious oddity! Our Brett Favre cooler cups will likely be "for display only"¯ this season. Pat's tackle box is a one-man project. He's often got lures, fish line, bobbers, and weights scattered all over the picnic table on the camper deck. I'm cool with the whole fishing scenario. It was the Styrofoam carton I found in the refrigerator that put me over the edge. Wax worms slithering all over one another is not my cup of tea!

Nowadays there are attractive plastic containers of every size, color, and shape, to organize, to collect, and to accumulate. Junk drawers don't hold your mother's thingamajigs anymore!

Gee, sometimes I wish we still had some of those widgets and gizmos around!

Janet Burns is a native of Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com 


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