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We surround ourselves with lots of stuff
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MOULTRIE — Through the years I have collected an assortment of stuff, and occasionally I look around at all these items in my office and reminisce as to how I came into their possession. Many of them have stories associated with them while others offer much less drama, but they made good paperweights ... so I kept them.
There’s an antique quart Mason jar on my book shelf. I don’t remember where it came from, though I do remember it came empty. There’s a huge pine cone from Northern California that a friend gave me. It’s about a foot long, and if it fell out of a tree and hit you on the head, it might knock you out, or as the friend noted in my case, it might knock some sense into me. It’s great to have friends.
Then I have a fossil of some kind of sea creature. My cousin gave it to me years ago. He found it on a mountain in Iran back in the late '60 while he was pulling military duty in that country.  It’s about the size of a softball and is a reminder that once the earth was covered in water. Some would pose that Iran should still be covered in water. But I try to avoid the political in my ramblings.
Then I have a petrified fish vertebrae. This was given to me by Leon Cooper of Colquitt County. Leon is sort of a local shade-tree archaeologist. He’s a world traveler and is a very interesting person. This fossil is about the size of a pint jar which means the fish it came from would probably have weighed a thousand pounds or more. It was found on the headwaters of the Ochlocknee River which these days is nothing but a big creek, indicating that at one time a lot more water filled that basin.
I have bookends made from old lead ingots from back in our newspaper’s “hot type” days. They hem up a sampling of books I’ve never read and never will read. One is titled “Milk, Eggs and Vodka.” Well, I may read that one.
There’s also my infamous “Horse’s Patoot Award,” which I cherish and is one of the highest honors a country newspaper editor can receive from the “powers that be,” just short of a Pulitzer.
Sometimes the stuff we collect tends to tells stories about us. A few months ago a friend dropped off a gift that takes me way back to frosty mornings and Sears and Roebuck catalogues. It’s a blue bird box disguised as a miniature outhouse. It has the traditional quarter moon peep hole in the door. And it emulates a design where privacy was a key issue .... it’s a one-holer.  Been there, done that.
Also I have two live .50 caliber rounds that were part of the armament on a P-51 Mustang fighter of World War II vintage. They were given to me by the late Earle Taylor, a former publisher of The Observer who flew a P-51 in the European Theater.
Then there’s a carpenter’s maul that I found in the street one day and an aluminum softball bat that stands behind my door, reminding me of days when I could go from Point A to Point B without having to make two trips. These two devices are strategically placed on either side of my office in case they have to be used in self defense. Keep in mind, I do have a “Horse’s Patoot Award.”
I also have a collection of coffee mugs, a couple of which contain an assortment of ball point pens with no ink. I’m not sure why we keep pens with no ink. But I guess it makes as much sense as having live ammo rounds and no P-51.
One day I’ll probably nail the little outhouse to a fence post for its practical application. And maybe I’ll sip something from that old Mason jar and reminisce some more.
And I can’t sign off here without some clarification. The outhouse I grew up with had a cement floor. But my dad cautioned us not to be “uppity” about that.

Walden is editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer. You can reach him at

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