I was watching a movie a few weeks back with Alan Alda, who played an eccentric old uncle to Matthew Broderick’s character, who worked at a newspaper but had suffered some type of breakdown. The nephew was trying to help his uncle sell a very rare, very old baseball card at a collector’s show. He needed to do this in order to raise money and save the family homestead. Alda’s character was wondering aloud how someone would want to pay money for just an old piece of cardboard with a picture on it. What could it possibly be worth? he wondered aloud. Just then one of the card dealers turned to him and asked “What are your memories worth?”. Hmmm.
In ‘Throw Mama from the Train’ there is the scene where Danny DeVito is showing Billy Crystal his coin collection, an utterly unremarkable group of dimes, nickels, and quarters. Crystal told him it was the worst coin collection he had ever seen, but after DeVito’s character told him the story of each coin, and how they were tied to childhood experiences he had shared with his deceased father…..well, then Crystal’s character saw the true value of these ordinary possessions.
I guess nostalgia plays a part in my collecting of typewriters. I have to admit that. Do they help me hang on to a part of my childhood? Probably. Is the collecting of obsolete objects an irrational attempt to take control of a part of my life in an uncontrollable world racing into the future? Yup. The older I get, the more I want to hang onto my memories. These will turn into stories I can tell my daughter about her grandparents, and about my childhood. These few objects will act as memory triggers for me in the future. Hopefully, I’ll still be typing on them, too. Whenever I think of those movie scenes, I think of the real value of my machines, my cameras. They may only fetch 30 or 40 clams on eBay, but they are worth much more to me. What are your memories worth?