A Sign Of The Times….

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When we moved into our 1925 farmhouse almost 13 years ago there was not much of its original charm left. The previous owner had pretty much stripped it out and did a pretty poor job of even that. Fortunately the porches around two sides of the house were still intact. It looked like there had been about three additions added since the house was originally built. The biggest addition, and probably the last one before our ownership, was obviously built by what is known in the trade as a hack. There were numerous areas around the perimeter that had no foundation or crawl space dug. We discovered the last area when we replaced the deck at the rear of the house last year. There was a twelve-foot area that was totally supported by a couple of twelve-foot 2×6 with nothing but mud under them. Obviously much of the remodels were done without any official inspection. That is one of the potential problems with buying older houses especially in small towns.

But to continue my basic message here there were a couple of bedrooms that seemed a part of the original house. One of the most notable things about these rooms was the size of the closets. Each one had a door that was about eighteen inches wide and a total inside width of no more than two feet. When the house was originally built this we more than enough room for the occupant’s clothes. In those days most typically had about two changes of clothes and a “Sunday go to meeting” suit.

Fast forward to today and it now takes a room about the size of these old bedrooms just to contain our clothes. I am a fan of the TV series “Little People, Big World”. The family in that series are definitely not “neat freaks”. They usually have many piles of unclean clothes lying around each teenager’s room. But in the background there is also an eight foot wide closet also filled with clothes. I kind of think this is the norm for most families.  Each kid probably had forty to fifty changes of clothes!

We talk about how rough we have it now days but as usual everything is relative. The original owners of our farmhouse were by no means poor. They owned most of the land down our road. But in their wildest dreams they would never have imagined having the amount of clothes that we do today.

One of my favorite words the last few years is “Simplify”. I am trying to shed much of the material things in life. In some areas I’m doing a pretty good job but in others not so good.  I have managed to shrink my possession of clothes down to what I could stuff in about a four foot width. Gone are all the suits I once wore. Gone are many of the “business casual” shirts and pants. I now have about a dozen shirts for summer and another dozen for winter. The pants are down to about eight pairs.  Simplifying my life seems to be enabling me to look at the larger issues. I don’t know why that is important to me but it just is…..

8 thoughts on “A Sign Of The Times….

  1. I can think of one upside to the trend of having lots of clothes. The charities get loads of good quality clothing which can be sold for much less to people who need them. And, as you know, there are many people who can afford new clothes but prefer to shop second hand for good deals. My two daughters live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of pick-ups for donations and we have them calling every week. So, they bring their bags of clothes here and I set them out for pickup. But first I go thru them to find a few things I could use! I can’t believe what younger women discard. I hope as they get older they will be more frugal. And they can’t believe that they ever lived in our small bedrooms with these small closets. But they did and didn’t feel deprived at the time. As you said…it’s all relative.
    Your porches are fabulous…a lovely house in a lovely setting. All the work you put into has paid off. Is it completely done or still a work in progress?


    1. Yeah, you are right Jane about donating. For all the “trendy” people they probably switch wardrobes every five years or so. That is one nice thing about us guys, we don’t have different looks. I guess about the only change that changed much during my corporate years was the width of our ties and jack lapels. But I guess there was the 70s when polyester was king 🙂

      With the replaced deck in the back our place is officially done. But now my wife is looking at the old (twelve year) wall paper in the bedroom so I know that will change soon… Are any of us ever really done remodeling???


  2. So true! My grandmother was a business woman and died with one small closet of clothes- most known as “Nana dresses” . When my husband retired he got out every t shirt he owned and put them in a big container, got rid of all suits (rents them for funerals and family weddings), has me buy one new pair of jeans ever other year…that is it. The shirts will last over twenty years as he pulls them out to wear. His big expense is a new pair of shoes each year- his others are so tattered that they are falling off his feet.
    I have to figure out a system. I am trying to whittle down- but it is tough. I envy the ease of his movement into retirement wardrobe.


    1. I hadn’t thought about the shoes but you are right I basically wear the same shoes all the time so every year or so I get new one. A couple of years ago I found a pair that absolutely fit me perfectly and ended up buying four pairs!! I just switched to the second pair so two more to go.


  3. I continue to hang onto my last 10 sports coats for absolutely no reason. I donated six to Goodwill a few years ago but for some reason these last 10 won’t leave peacefully. I never wear them and they take up a bunch of closet space in a home without enough so why can’t I get rid of these last vestiges of my working days?

    I have two suits left (out of 8) for funerals and such but those darn sports coats. Give me the courage to dump them, RJ.


    1. Hi Bob. I don’t think us guys hang on to our old stuff nearly as dearly as our lady friends do but you are right there are things in my closet that I haven’t worn in years but I just don’t have the heart to toss. Too many memories I guess..
      I only have one suit and it too is for funerals and such, and one sport coat that I don’t remember the last time I wore. Why do you two suits, you can only wear one at a time? I can just hear my grandfather saying the last sentence. Being that he was a pig farmer I’m not sure he even owned one suit.

      I just got back from preparing the day’s meals at the soup kitchen. Grilled about sixty chopped steaks so the clothes I have on reek. I guess I am going to have to reach in to my limited supply for some that smell a little better 🙂 I often get smelly there from cooking fumes but God I love that place. Met a new friend there today….


      1. RJ,

        One suit is winter weight if I must go back East in the colder seasons. The other is lighter weight for Phoenix. Otherwise, yes, one suit would be fine. But, those sports coats…I have no such excuse.


  4. Just donate them Bob. They are only going further and further out of style just sitting in the closet. Bite the bullet…someone who really needs them will be grateful.


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