Encyclopedias Tossed In Yearly Household Purge

Published 9:56 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

It took three trips, but I dumped our heavy 1985 collection of encyclopedias into the recycling bin Saturday. They hadn’t been opened in years, replaced by Google and Wikipedia. They had sat undisturbed so long that they left impressions on the wooden shelf.

Nobody wanted them.

There was a time when encyclopedias were essential to a child’s education. My parents bought six sets for the six families of their grandchildren — so vital were the reference books for writing school reports and doing research.

The boys used them a lot in their day. An encyclopedia seemed to have something about everything when it came time to write a school report.

These days, even a cellphone has more information, and it’s at the click of a button — no thumbing through heavy books and indexes required.

Kids these days have it so easy.

I’m nearly finished my annual January purge of junk, unused and worn out clothes and things I have stuffed in the closet and attic because it was easier to pile them in the corner than to face facts that I will never use or need them again.

I could have left the job to my heirs in 20-25 years, my estimate of the days I have left. Instead, I have filled the garbage bins this month.

I threw out the yellow sweater that had sat in the closet for eight years. I don’t wear yellow. I tossed instruction manuals to lawn mowers we no longer have.

I saved and re-read letters and newspaper clippings from the past. And pictures.

Of course, I saved my old report cards from Farmington Elementary School. Making good grades was harder then. In the 4th grade, we were graded on reading, language, spelling, writing, geography, history, health, physical education, science, arithmetic, music, art and, most important … conduct.

Oh, the conduct grade. In my mother’s day, it was called “deportment.” Along with conduct came the five reasons a teacher could cite. One was “Talks, Laughs, Giggles.”

• • • • •

Nursing a cold over the weekend, I plugged in a Western I had never seen, “Tom Horn,” starring Steve McQueen in his last movie before his death in 1980.

He made a fine cowboy.

Tom Horn was a true-life figure, a cowboy, a Pinkerton detective and Indian tracker who helped arrest Geronimo. He was a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt. In the movie, he has aged and spends his time hunting — and killing — cattle rustlers. He was hanged for killing a boy, and the movie suggests he was framed.

McQueen’s love interest in the movie is played by the beautiful Bo Derek, the same actress fittingly rated a perfect 10. Frankly, she is pretty to a distraction in the movie.

McQueen is perhaps best remembered for the movie “Bullitt.” But he is also remembered for the movie role he turned down, Sundance, in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” He wanted top billing over Paul Newman and accepted a movie role in “The Reivers” instead, a movie I like a lot, but it’s not one of the best of all time like “Butch Cassidy.”

Our egos can sometimes get in the way.

Watching a Western while sick is almost as good for recovery as chicken soup.

— Dwight Sparks