By Tom Ward
Editor’s note: This column, written by Tom Ward, was first published May 18, 2013. This is the final installment of a series of columns written by Ward, who died last month.
Ward was an avid historian, proud Anokan and a wonderful storyteller. He will be missed and we appreciate his longtime support of both the Anoka County Historical Society and the Anoka County UnionHerald.
There are several different TV shows having to do with collecting things and hoarding. Most of it is about junk. However, in many cases it is really about keepsakes and family heirlooms. It’s about stuff you just can’t part with, stuff that has meaning, memories and value to you, but has no meaning to someone else. I guess you could say that about anything. However, I bet they have some of their own. Doesn’t everyone?
In my six years I have lived at the Walker Senior Center in downtown Anoka I have seen many people come and go. In most cases they finish their lives there. Some opt for a two-bedroom apartment because they have many things they can’t yet part with. Then a year or two later they move to a smaller unit and get rid of some of their things they finally decide they don’t need or will never use or wear again. In some cases, they make the move when their spouse passes away. There are many sad stories here like that. In some cases it happens when one can’t afford it anymore. There are cases when a member of your family decides to secretly toss something they think you won’t miss. And sometimes they are right.
I’ll bet many of you have things you just can’t and never will part with. I have a hand-painted necktie that I purchased at the famous Colburn Hilliard men’s store in Anoka in 1946 when I got home from the Air Force. I will be writing about that tie and a Scotch drum I won in 1955 at a Chevrolet Sales Rally in future columns. It sounds like this is all about me — and it is. But I’ll bet you all have special memories. So it is really all about all of us.
It is always so sad when you see or read the news about someone losing everything in a fire or a tornado like the one in Joplin, Missouri (not to mention a few in Anoka County over the decades). If you have a computer, you can and should store all letters, articles and pictures.
We at ACHS are offered so many things that mean so much to someone but not so much to someone else. My funeral plan calls for cremation. So maybe I can take the necktie and Scotch Drum with me after all.