Memories hang in the closet


On a rainy Saturday afternoon, what is there to do?

After watching TV, baking cookies is an option on a dull day, but only if they are wrapped and given away immediately. Otherwise, you know what cookie monsters at any age will do with a tray of warm cookies.

I was looking in the closet for a yellow spring jacket when I decided to spend the afternoon finding out what is on all of the jam-packed hangers covered with plastic. There was only one way to do it: Take everything out of the closet and carry it into the office. Convert the office into a fitting room, complete with a portable full-length mirror and stepping stool to stand on, and let the mystery unfold.

Four hours later the sorting and “fittings” were complete and the closet was filled again. The good news is that it isn’t as packed as it was. On a score of 1 to 10 for getting rid of things, I rated myself about a 4 and for me that’s good.

Sorting clothes is like going through photos. Rather than get the job done and discard what is not wanted we stop and reminisce and then keep it with the thought, “let the next guy decide.” Chances are the next guy will have a trash can nearby when he sorts your belongings.

It was mandatory that I have a pretend fitting room after the weight gain last winter, caused by watching TV and snacking nonstop. Trying on spring and summer clothes that were good fits last year is as accurate a measure as stepping on the scales. Sure enough, the peanut butter, cheese, crackers, and cookies took a toll.

It would have been less devastating if the closet-sorting frenzy had been limited to blouses, sweaters, jackets, and vests. Weight gain doesn’t upset the apple cart above the waist like it does on the stomach and hips.

Years ago before our clothing was made in China and other faraway places, we could depend on seamstresses to alter snug clothing. More often than not in today’s clothing, the manufacturer doesn’t allow any room for expansion.

The sorting was done in three sections: Must Keep, Must Try On, and Must Get Rid Of.

A yellow full-length linen suit is the most memorable of the five dresses in the discard stack. I was wearing it when I got a speeding ticket on my way to a tea at the late Florence Oberle’s home in Grand Rapids, Ohio.

The Must Keeps that are back in the closet slowed my progress because of time taken to reminisce. One example is the black-trimmed white linen suit worn in Oregon’s 50th anniversary parade with the late Bob Fondessy, who was being honored as Oregon’s founding father.

The saved items that are meaningful have attached FYI notes for whoever might come across them. They are the denim dresses worn for the Bunny Bread TV commercials in 1995, aprons for long-ago Blade food fairs, and a green lizard patterned shirt. The shirts are the uniform of the day when 15 Jarboe family members gather. They are first, second, and third cousins to me. Ten-month-old triplets, Juliette, Mariska, and Isabelle Jarboe, children of April and Daniel Jarboe of Tampa, are included in the fun apparel. The shirts were designed and made by Joyce Perkins Greulich, who is now a rest home resident at Daytona Beach, Fla.

None of the above is as meaningful as the jewel-trimmed sage green silk suit that I wore 10 years ago next Sunday and has a forever home in the closet. When I received an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters from Adrian College it was the proudest moment of my life.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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