September 19, 2012

What do you do with your dead parent's stuff?

Brimming With Pride, Son Seeks Resting Place for Dad's Hat Hoard

Some children find themselves overwhelmed by a dead parent's boxes of photo albums or an attic brimming with not-so-valuable antiques.

Scott Legried is hampered by hats.

More than 109,000 baseball caps. All lovingly collected by his father, Roger "Buckey" Legried, a corn and soybean grower and farming-equipment salesman in Frost, Minn.

Scott Legried inherited the world's largest collection of hats when his father died last September at the age of 73. The hats are boxed and stored in a garage, a basement and three 42-foot-long semi-tractor trailers at the Legried family farm. A three-ring binder catalogs each cap and its provenance—every John Deere hat from every state is listed, along with a black cap with intricate gold and red beadwork.

The hats were the elder Mr. Legried's unfinished legacy. He had hoped to see them displayed for the public….Now, the duty of finding the hats a permanent, public home hangs on the younger Mr. Legried, 40 years old. He calls it an "honor."

The hats will probably end up at the Green Giant Museum in Austin, Minn.  Like other museums with large collection, all the hats will not be display at once -

A proper display—with four-inch high shelves, 10 feet to the ceiling—would stretch at least a half mile, the elder Mr. Legried once calculated.

Hearing voices in the clutter by Margaret Carlson

HOUSES, if we look and listen, have secrets to tell us. I didn’t fully understand my parents until I finally faced up to emptying their house. Doing so would have been hard at any time, but it was even harder because I had waited 20 years after their deaths.

Not by choice, I had left the house exactly as it was and exactly as they wished, with my brother, Jimmy, brain-damaged by an epileptic seizure at birth, at the center of it. My parents had created a world in a quiet suburb of Harrisburg, Pa., in which he could thrive, and they expected me to do the same, although my universe consisted of a daughter, a column and a house 150 miles away.

But at a certain point, I realized that I was caulking leaks and replacing pipes at an accelerating pace that had to stop. Finally, last spring, my brother saw he was beginning to sag like the gutters and agreed to move into a group apartment.

Before he could remember how much he would miss his snowblower, I put the house on the market. Happily, it sold right away. Unhappily, I had just 60 days to get rid of 70 years’ worth of belongings.
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NOTHING I found would have attracted attention on “Antiques Roadshow,” but it all had meaning for me. I needed to do some wholesale chucking, but I kept hearing voices coming out of closets, drawers and boxes.

“You can never have too many salt and pepper shakers,” my mother was certain. And “surely, you want those linen guest towels I embroidered with the Eight Beatitudes?”
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The day of closing, I dropped the last black garbage bag at the curb, swept the house broom-clean and left Jimmy at his new place waiting for the cable guy, so as not to miss an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Then I drove home in a car packed full of what I couldn’t bear to part with: wedding photos of my beaming parents, blissfully unaware of what was about to hit them; hand-stitched linens; the white veil from my First Holy Communion.

And suddenly, I felt a hole in the middle of my life. I had spent a month in my parents’ company, discovering what had been in plain sight all along. For the first time, I knew what it meant to be homesick.
Posted by Jill Fallon at September 19, 2012 12:03 PM | Permalink