Oddities abound

If my parents were collectors of arcane historical oddities, I might not mind the chore of having to go through their possessions at some future date. As I read through the article “In a Father’s Clutter, Historic Oddities” from the New York Times, though, I found it difficult to believe how many oddities Evan Lattimer had to sift through after her father’s death. From the article:

When her father, John Lattimer, died in May of 2007 at the age of 92, Ms. Lattimer knew her inheritance would include more than the family tea set. Dr. Lattimer, a prominent urologist at Columbia University, was also a renowned collector of relics, many of which might be considered quirky or even macabre.

Over the course of seven decades he amassed more than 3,000 objects that ranged in age from a few years to tens of millions of years. “He was like a classic Renaissance collector,” said Tony Perrottet, a writer specializing in historical mysteries who spent time with Dr. Lattimer before his death. “Anything and everything could turn up in the collection, from Charles Lindbergh’s goggles to a bearskin coat that belonged to Custer.”

This brings me to a post I wrote a few weeks ago. I asked our readers to send in pictures and descriptions for any odd item that they may have come across while clearing out some of their clutter. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet amassed enough submissions for an inaugural oddity post. So, let this be a reminder for any oddities that you may come across while decluttering your basement, garage, or attic. Please send them to us through our Contact page, we would love to see your discovered oddities!

11 Comments for “Oddities abound”

  1. posted by Sarah on

    My grandparents’ home was a trove of memorobilia – family photos, documents, heirlooms.

    My parents were surprised to find a pornographic magazine hidden under the corners of almost every rug in the house.

    They were shocked to find pornographic video tapes hidden above the ceiling tiles in the basement. This from the people who claimed they had no idea how to work their VCR …

  2. posted by Matt on

    I found an old film canister in my Dad’s stuff – the whole story is told here: http://monkeyfilter.com/link.php/10740

    (my username is muteboy, btw)

  3. posted by timgray on

    All of you have it easy… I dread the day that the inlaws pass.

    on their property… we have .. 2300 sq foot home full, 1900 sq foot home full, 10,000 sq foot shop full, 8000 sq foot barn full, and a 24,000 sq foot cider mill FULL…

    and when I say full I mean full floor to ceiling and walkways. Many attempts to get them to simply pay to have it all hauled away or even let us help to get rid of it are to no avail…. You name it and it’s there. buried under other stuff. It will take a fleet of dumpster trucks months to unclutter it all.

  4. posted by Deb on


    Now is the time to begin negotiations with some home improvement TV show producer who can come in and Clean Sweep it all as the season finale or something!

  5. posted by Anne on

    oh Deb…
    “begin negotiations with” _______________fill in the blank…that is a priceless comment…and one I will use to my children for some strange thing.

    perhaps it is just late…but that got me giggling…I do love this site, and I really love the comments!

  6. posted by gypsypacker on

    Tim–Here is where an estate dealer can really make you some money. Get bids as soon as they pass away. The dealer will appraise, clean, and sell for a cut of the final take. Failing that, start looking at the arcana as a serious way to clean out, a few items at a time or a multitude, on eBay. Junk isn’t always junk–old coffee tins, of long-gone brands, will fetch up to a Benjamin on the bay.
    Vintage fish baits and flys are another junk pile with great potential.

    Start asking for stuff now, and sell it. I am drooling at the thought of that cleanup, and would almost move back into the old pickup for the chance to sift through the trash and market the treasures…

  7. posted by JT on

    The father in the New York Times is a bit different than the usual case of a packrat. Most of his stuff mentioned in the article had a historical connection, not just mounds of newspapers or bins of empty jugs.

    Perhaps the moral of the story with the article is that if you collect, you should catelog and organize what you collect.

  8. posted by Dorothy on

    @JT, good point about collections. Here’s my take. I think collectors should have a friend who shares the interest and who will take responsibility for the collection when the collector goes: take it away, keep, it, give it away, sell it and give the money to the family — whatever the collector wants.

    I’m a quilter and know quilters with MASSIVE amounts of fabric. Many of them have a “quilter’s will” which involves a couple friends who will come in and clear out their studios when they’re gone. This saves the family the trouble, and the “Stuff” can go to someone who will use it. We’ve all heard stories of quilters whose families throw their fabric and tools away because they just don’t know how to dispose of it.

  9. posted by M.R. on

    When evacuating right before last hurricane, I found some “juicy” diaries I had written in junior high school. I was appalled at what I considered important at the time. Thank goodness I found my own diaries though; I promptly shredded them.

  10. posted by Jackie on

    Dorothy has the right idea for specific collections. My husband was involved in amateur radio. When he died, some of his fellow amateurs came by, cleanded out his radio room, and took the stuff to a local hamfest.
    It was wonderful, and I was so thankful. The money was wonderful too.

  11. posted by Horse N Buggy on

    My father’s still living with his hoard of stuff, but I can already tell you one of the things I’m going to have to throw out. My nephew was over at my father’s house helping him do something in one of his “sheds” (I use the term loosely). My father pointed to a five gallon bucket and asked my nephew to bring it over to him. My nephew tried to casually pick up the bucket, thinking it was a little left over paint…or something reasonable. My nephew couldn’t even budge the thing. It was full of broken lead sinkers…a 5 gallon bucket. My father, who is in his 70s and has Parkinson’s disease, thinks he’s going to have some emergency where he needs to melt down those broken sinkers. He doesn’t have anything to melt them in or any molds to cast the lead into any useful shape. But, by all that’s holy, he’s got the raw materials at the ready!

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