Our connection to “stuff” and how it invokes memories…

I recently visited a life-long friend that I’ve known since 4th grade.  We grew up together attending the same schools, elementary, middle school (then called jr. high), high school, and on to Bloomington to attend IU.  So naturally, we ended up at the same Fraternity (Acacia).  Jim was always a collector of stuff.  And he took such great care of his belongings that he could keep and use his ‘things’ for a very long time.  So it was no surprise, while on a recent visit to Bloomington, where Jim and lovely wife Brenda have resided for the past three decades, to see many items from our childhood.  Here is a pristine display of some of Jim’s railroad cars.  I remember a huge track set-up in his basement when growing up.  It was really great.


It was remarkable how seeing the train cars brought back memories of playing with them decades ago!  Now, through the power of a digital photo, I can enjoy the memory for decades to come!  And with the chance of a fading memory in many of our futures, it might be good to have some reminders around.

The visit was especially good since Jim sponsored a Saturday morning brunch for a few of our old fraternity brothers.  It was so cool seeing them again after so many years.  And again, the memories flowed and tall tales of fun university days followed.  Then we went to Jim’s “Man Cave”… a special loft he had built above his garage where he can go to escape the world and simply relax.  With old vintage stereo speakers and a wide music library it was not difficult to play some of the old greats that we all remembered from years ago.

And then I saw these… the actual pair of boxing gloves that Jim wore when we would box each other all throughout high school.  We had another buddy named John that would also box and we would have so much fun boxing and beating each other up!  Okay, so it doesn’t sound so good now, but it really was fun at the time!

gloves 3 up

The gloves were from Slavco’s Tap in Gary, Indiana.  What?  Back in the day, when patrons wanted to get into a fight, Jim’s dad, Clem, would hand out two pairs of boxing gloves and tell the men to step out back to settle their issue.  It was a smart way from keeping them from fighting inside the bar and perhaps breaking something, or getting hurt even more than wearing these 16 oz gloves would cause.  It was the other pair that I wore when we boxed.  And although they were softer being 16 oz gloves, they were also heavier so when Jim connected (which wasn’t too often – just kidding) he would ring my bell for sure!  He always had a little more ‘reach’ then me with his longer arms.


In this photo, Jim is pointing to a sports photo telling a story about the image.  Also pictured is fraternity brothers Dave and Christ.  As Jim said, where else could he keep and display some of this memorabilia?  It’s not like he would hang it inside his home somewhere!


Also on display were a variety of little mementos like old cigarette lighters, and other interesting items.  It was so funny, here – brother Rusty was talking about all of the items Jim had and asked “where are the switchblades?”  And on cue, Jim reached inside a display case and pulled out three unique blades to show to Rusty.  It was so funny!  Rusty was simply joking around, and boom, Jim produced the blades for discussion!  It reminded us of the old TV show The Price is Right.  Remember at the end Bob Barker would ask the audience for unique things and offer to give them $50 for a toothbrush, or $100 for a thumb tack!  Jim would have raked it in on that show… well if he could bring his Man Cave with him!


It was not my first time visiting them in Bloomington, but it had been way too long since my last visit.  Looking around seeing things we used to play with or use really brought back memories.  On the wall above was a Crosman M-1 BB gun that we used for target practice.  I used to have one just like it.  I couldn’t tell you what happened to mine, but there was Jim’s in perfect working order.

Some would call him a pack-rat.  Others a collector… me, I just call him my friend who had the foresight to take care of his belongings allowing him to retain the great old memories of growing up.  And if you are reading this post on your PC, then you too are more than likely have some great memories of growing up too.

The guys loved Jim’s “Man Cave” and many talked about how it inspired them to go home and dig out some of their old items that are stored in boxes and enjoy them again.  After all, life is a journey and having memories around to help you share your journey with others is priceless.  Thanks for the memories Jim – keep up the great work on your collectibles!  -Rick Bella for Bella Photography




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