To everything there is a season, and a time unto every purpose. Not that Peggy and I have immediate plans to depart this vale of tears, but you never know, the way some people drive. And I would hate to pass away and leave no will, leaving the bereaved survivors to scramble and squabble, enduring decade-long legal battles over an estate that may very well total in the six figures (if you count the figures on the right of the decimal point.)
I read that the term for dying without a will is to die "intestate."
Similarly, to die by being crushed between two behemoth tractor-trailers on I-95 is to die "interstate."
I'd prefer to do neither, to tell you the truth.
But, beyond the vast financial legacy that my clever investing will yield (I was among the first to buy stock in BetaMax VCRs, New Coke and Colgate Beef-Flavored Toothpaste) there is also a fortune in memories down in the basement. I think it's best to specify clearly which lucky legatee will wind up with all my old records, so that there is no fighting over the original vinyl of 1964's "Jerry Lee Lewis: The Greatest LIVE Show On Earth!" or the 45 of Bobby Helms's "He Thought He'd Die Laughing (And He Did)" from '67. There are several thousand albums and a gazillion 45's down in the basement, and some lucky music lover is going to be able to say, "Oh, Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadors? I've got lots of their stuff on vinyl. I've been into them for years! I inherited all this when my crazy uncle fell into the vat during the brewery tour."
Also residing in the basement are Bill and Hillary Clinton, Elvis, Bart Simpson and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No, not the real people, but life-size cardboard stand-up cut-outs. Besides giving me someone to talk to while I'm down there on the exer-cycle, they provide amusement for those unaware guests whom I ask to step down to the pantry and "bring up a bottle of catsup." Whoa! Do they get scared, to think that the secretary of state is standing right by my hoarded canned goods!
Books, magazines, pamphlets, fliers, ephemera: all are down in the basement in a hundred or so boxes. I have several hundred old LIFE magazines, so someone will enjoy, as do I, photo essays on country doctors who deliver calves and babies with equal skill and get paid in rhubarb pies, and hard-hitting looks at juvenile delinquency, modern kitchen designs, and redneck sheriffs chawing on Red Man tobacco while the world changed riotously around them. Books? Max Shulman, Ring Lardner, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe, all here ready to read. If your taste runs to Robert Ludlum or Danielle Steel, you'll be sadly disappointed. In fact, there is very little fiction, except for a mint copy of Ronald Reagan's autobiography.
Hand tools that date back to the Paleolithic era are down there, too. I got a lot of them from my dad and my grandfather. I tell you, they don't make tools like this anymore, screwdrivers with wooden handles and crosscut saws that you can cut a 2 x 4 with in the afternoon and play a waltz in 4/4 time on that evening. In fact, this type of performance is where the expression "I saw it on the radio" came from a long time ago. Here's another example of guy playing the musical saw: click here for your birthday greeting!
Upstairs in the den are more books and a lot of baseball memorabilia, a veritable treasure trove for the discerning fan.
Frankly, I think I'll look into this "you can't take it with you" rule. I want my stuff with me when I'm up on my cloud, rolling around heaven* all day with my angel Peggy. If someone gets one tenth of one percent of the amount of joy that I've gotten from all my stuff, though, that will make me happy too.
* I'm counting on getting a pass because Peggy's sure to be there!