I ran across this caricature of Andy Rooney by Jack Davis while sifting through a box of stuff trying to find something (I never found). It’s ironic that this is from a column Rooney wrote on his collecting, what is now commonly called hoarding. It was reprinted in Family Circle magazine, April 19, 1983, issue. It may also Be considered ironic, or at least coincidental, that I found this piece of Andy Rooney memorabilia shortly after his last regular appearance on 60 Minutes, which was last Sunday, Oct. 2.
The column is from his book “And More by Andy Rooney” published in 1982, accoding to the fine print near the bottom of the page.
“Today is a turning point in my life,” Rooney begins.
“From this day forward, I am not adding one single thing to my collection of possessions. If I bring something new in the front door, I’m going to throw something out the back door.” Whenever I am considering a purchase, my wife asks, “What are you going to get rid of to make room for it.”
“The simple fact of the matter is that everything’s full,” Rooney says. “My desk drawers are full, and the top of my desk is heaped high with papers.
“My two-car garage long ago passed the point where I could get one car, let along two, into it. Now I can’t even open the garage door from the driveway side and walk through it to the door leading to the kitchen. I have to go around.” Debbie wouldn’t let things go that far. Maybe one car would get crowded out, and mine would have to left outside at all times, but never two. As it stands now, and will remain, I believe, we have plenty of room in our garage for both cars.
“When the oil-burner man came to give the furnace its annual physical, he said I couldn’t have all that stuff piled so close to it. That’s easy for an oil-burner man to say, but where would he put it? Where would he put the outdoor chair with the broken leg that’s too good to throw away and which I’ll probably fix someday? There’s no space left anywhere in the cellar except too close to the furnace.” That’s not good. I wouldn’t do that, pile stuff by the furnace. I’ve seen “Hoarders” on television a couple of times. I never could get through an entire episode. In one, the man had a large collection of books and comicbooks. I thought, “Cool! I want to see what he has!” This guy had books and papers piled against the stove and on it, too, and he was turning it on for heat. Crazy! I had to turn it off when they showed his family crying and saying they had moved out out because their husband/father was so far gone.
“The attic isnt any better,” Rooney continues. ” The attic is high enough only in the middle, under the peak of the roof, for me to stand up straight [see illustration], but I’ve hoisted boxes of old letters, books and suitcases filled with papers into it and shoved them over to the side where I have to get down on my hands and knewws to shove them under the eaves.
“The four kids have all left home, but they didn’t leave home with much of their stuff. In closets everywhere there is evidence of the 18 or 20 years they spent in the house. Parents entertain some foolish notion that they’re loved and wanted just because children leave their clothes behind when they strike out on their own. The kids, for their part, are about as sentimental about their closet at home as they’d be about a locker in a bus station. I love them, but when they come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m going to sneak out to their cars at night while they’re sleeping and fill the trunks with old sneaks, small clothes and school papers of theirs that they’ve been storing at home. I’m going to stuff the cute, misshapen clay ashtrays they made in Miss Evans’s pottery class into the crevices beneath the front seats of their cars. I’m going to make Ellen take those 37 books in Russian she brought home from college.” This is funny. My three siblings and I left a lot of stuff behind when we moved out. My mom and dad brought boxes of my junk to my house about 20 years after I moved out the first time. She didn’t trust me to come back and get it!
“In the kitchen, the drawers are piled so high with knives, forks and kitchen gadgets for cutting carrots into interesting shapes that something often sticks up too high and prevents a drawer from opening.
“My life runneth over and I’m going to do something about it. Beginning today, I solemnly swear on a stack of old Garry Moore scripts that I will not bring one single item into the house or office without casting out some equivalent spacetaker. If I buy a new tool, I’m going to throw out an old one. If I buy a new shirt, I’m going to throw out an old shirt.” I didn’t know he wrote for Garry Moore. Those scripts might be worth some money today.
“I am no longer going to save the brown bags the groceries come in. I have a lifetime supply of old brown bags. I am going to cast out coffee cans, rubber bands, matchbooks, broken toasters, old snow tires and perhaps, my stack of old Life magazines.
“I’m cleaning out my life, beginning today … tomorrow the very latest.”
That’s the entire column. Pretty good. I think most of us can identify with at least some of what Rooney said. It’s hard to throw things out, especially when when we think there might be some usefulness still left in it, or a new use for it down the road.