When I cleaned up the house to get It ready to sell, I found stacks of old books, Life magazines, Avon novelty bottles (many still filled), rinsed-out food containers from Meals on Wheels, and everything ever published by Robert Schuller, Billy Graham and PTL.
Those were easy to dispose of. Bethany Baptist got the religious matter and my sister inherited the Avon collection. (It goes just dandy with her Beanie Babies.) However, for a couple Fridays, there were 30-gallon garbage bags stacked two deep the width of our front lawn.
What was less easy to toss were the personal things -- like all my report cards going back to first grade at Mary Allen West. My sister was glad to see hers; they proved she'd been a better student than she remembered. Mine, on the other hand, proved the opposite. And don't ask about my grades on Social Skills at Farnham. (''Billy sometimes finds it hard to be quiet.'')
There were also stacks of old records. Some 78's dated back to Paul Whiteman. On one, Bing Crosby was still a tenor with the Rhythm Boys. I couldn't help myself; I played a few. (Mom also saved a record player with 78-rpm capability.) The records were scratchy and clicked, but they brought back memories of when our living room was covered with linoleum and mom and dad would put on a stack of Eddy Howard, Eddy Duchin and Glenn Miller and have their own Saturday night sock hop after they thought sis and I were asleep upstairs.
I also found the first record album I ever chose myself: ''Children's Songs and Stories by Cowboy Tex Ritter (The Pride of Panola County)'' Capitol Records BD 14.
Yep, I had to play that one.
I wasn't too fond of the songs -- especially ''I Love My Rooster'' and ''Froggy Went-A-Courting''; but the stories were real stem-winders, complete with first-rate sound effects. ''The Wreck of Number 9'' was about ''a brave engineer who gave up his life to be on time'' and featured the sound of two trains colliding head-on!
Keep your Nintendo games. Give me Pony Bob Haslum riding to Fort Kearney, Nebraska for the Pony Express, fighting off Indians, to carry the word west on November 8, 1860 that Abraham Lincoln had been elected President.
Who needs television when you've got Big Screen Imagination?
Tex Ritter was not my favorite cowboy star at Saturday movie matinees at the ColonIal and West theaters. I didn't even particularly like his singing on the sound track of one of my favorite movies - ''High Noon.'' (''Do not forsake me, oh, my dawrlin...'') It helped make the movie a hit, though, and Gary Cooper won an Academy Award. I believe Tex's ''Blood on the Saddle'' is one of the most horrendous songs ever recorded. (I have a disk jockey friend who threatens to play it every time calls get slow on his request lIne.) All this to the contrary, for nearly an hour one wintry gray morn in March, 2000, the ''Pride of Panola County'' brought joy again into my life on old 78-rpm records.
And maybe that's why mom saved the album.