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Who knows what treasures lurk in the back of your closet? Perhaps a pledge paddle and a giant egg cup … Photo by Leila Hawken

Weeding Out the Walk-In


The fall season inspires many of us to tackle tasks in home spaces holding essential and non-essential stuff that has built up over the summer, or longer. Take, for example, a walk-in closet that has become a stretch-to-reach-in closet with various objects blocking the way.

It is time for a fall clean-out of that closet. So, I invite you and others to undertake the task along with me. I have selected the dining room closet. 

It was intended to be the guest coat closet, but reality dictates that it needs to harbor lots of other stuff.

First, open the door and have a look. OK. Five old golf clubs with wooden shafts; four still have their original leather hand grips; one is a brass putter. Six umbrellas; good condition. Two are short and collapsible, and there’s one collapsible pink one that I’ve never seen before. It’s not mine.

Moving ahead, I find my father’s 1920-ish pledge paddle for Theta Xi fraternity at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, signed by fellow pledges and some members. Should keep that.

As I feared would be the case, half of the coat racks are taken up with outer clothing left behind by a wily New York City apartment-dweller who has gradually encroached on my household closet space, using it as free storage. Came heavy laden and departed with lighter luggage.

Continuing on, I discover a small-ish box labeled “Miscellaneous Non-Essentials.” This is an interesting box that has not been opened for eight years.

What’s in the box? Well, let’s see. A linen kitchen apron from the Dominican Republic: not essential, but useful. 

An unused 1963 business diary from the Acme Wire Company in New Haven, Conn.  In addition to useful calendar and appointment pages, it offers advice on chemical properties and even stain removal and First Aid. It advises on what to do if someone nearby has been struck by lightning: Simply throw water on the victim. To me, that seems like a bad idea.

Three packages of colorful clothespins will definitely be useful, even essential. A yellow egg cup. A packet of linen mailing envelopes. My initials in huge wooden letters. An extension cord. An extension outlet. Two packets of whimsical kitchen magnets. A partial packet of Christmas cards.

For fall clean-up of closets, experts use words like weeding and purging. As I survey my closet during this fall season, and now that I look over the dining room table cluttered with this assortment of non-essentials, I understand the concept of weeding.

And, then, even better is the prospect of actually walking into my walk-in closets. The experts are correct.

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