Koch: The dis­tin­guished junk drawer.

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What ac­tu­ally is a junk drawer? In my case, it ac­tu­ally comes down to be­ing raised Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch — the “shift and make do” kind. Most of us have a ten­dency to save things and tell our­selves, “I might use this one day.” We just can’t seem to throw away an item that might be of use one day. I’ll ad­mit there are times, one or two of the items will be used again. Yet, most of us place these “some­day use­ful items” in a spe­cial drawer that has the dis­tin­guished ti­tle of “Junk Drawer.”

I can vividly re­call Mom’s junk drawer in the kitchen of our farm­house. It was filled with empty spools, but­tons, scraps of pa­per ( tablets were scarce), and chalk ( for the chalk­board), and more. I’m sure ev­ery­one of the 10 chil­dren, at one time or an­other, asked, “Mom, do we have any ________ ( what­ever)?” And be­fore we were fin­ished with our sen­tence, she’d say, “Check the junk drawer.”

In my mother’s case, she also had a small drawer in the bureau of her bed­room. As a young­ster, I loved go­ing through her draw­ers just “to see.” Her cloth­ing draw­ers had clothes in them, but this par­tic­u­lar drawer of hers bugged me. I was about 11 or 12 years old at this time. Thus, I con­sid­ered it a bed­room “junk drawer,” be­cause some items didn’t be­long in it. In it were bro­ken combs, a brush, blush ( she never wore makeup), hair pins and nets. Then there were items such as han­kies, spools with very lit­tle thread on them, a lost sock, or what­ever. I felt this to be only for hair and makeup. Even af­ter I or­ga­nized it, it was a mess a few weeks later. Once I be­came a teenager, I out­grew or­ga­niz­ing this drawer.

Per­haps it was my na­ture to be or­ga­nized. I can’t re­call the junk draw­ers of the home I raised my chil­dren in, but they will at­test to me be­ing “crazy clean.” They’ve of­ten said, “She even cleans the cel­lar ( not a den). I out­grew this “crazy clean” trait as well.

Be­cause I de­cided to ask a few friends and fam­ily if they had a junk drawer, I felt it’s only fair to tell about mine. In my din­ing area is a small ta­ble that holds 4 small draw­ers, with a small door that has one shelf. I con­sider this whole small ta­ble my junk drawer. The top drawer holds coupons and restau­rant menus. The 2nd holds flash lights and can­dles. The 3rd holds small plas­tic con­tain­ers filled with tacks, plugs, erasers, pic­ture hang­ers. The 4th drawer holds all kinds of tape, from mea­sur­ing to freezer. The doors top shelf holds a plas­tic bas­ket, filled with bat­ter­ies, while the bot­tom floor holds sev­eral small tablets. On the door it­self I hang keys. I’d call my­self an “or­ga­nized junkie.”

I don’t go to the tool room in the base­ment of­ten. But, I wanted to in­clude the tool room, which I al­ways felt is a mess, but could not un­der­stand as my hus­band is an or­derly per­son. So I asked, “Where do you keep your junk tool drawer?” He an­swered, “The whole room is a junk drawer!” Glad he said it, not me.

In talk­ing to my friends about junk draw­ers, JoAnn told me she has a junk drawer in most rooms, but only places mis­cel­la­neous items that be­long in that room in that junk drawer. She adds, “A bath­room hair brush does not be­long in a kitchen junk drawer.”

Alice men­tioned she has a kitchen junk drawer and it gets cleaned out when she does her spring house­clean­ing.

I thought Jane had an ex­cel­lent idea. She bought small, deep bas­kets and hung them on the wall of the garage, next to the kitchen en­trance, for junk stuff. She even placed names on the bas­ket--rags, small tools, and mis­cel­la­neous stuff. But she ex­claimed, “No one seems to be able to read. The bas­kets have most any­thing in them!”

One of my Red Hats, Ch­eryl, told me she has a kitchen junk drawer, “It has scis­sors, ham­mers, screw driv­ers, flash­lights that most need bat­ter­ies, string, all kinds of stuff. The other drawer has baby food jars filled with all size screws, nuts, bolts, tacks, and door stops, matches, again all kinds of good stuff.” Now that’s a well or­ga­nized junk drawer. My daugh­ter, Mande, has her junk drawer in the kitchen. “It has scotch tape for Christ­mas and birth­day wraps. Jes­sica ( her daugh­ter) has in­cense in it. There is a tomato pin cush­ion with pins and nee­dles stuck in it that I never use. I have used tin­foil since I never know when I’ll need it. I have can­dles in case the elec­tric goes out. Also, a mea­sur­ing tape that I should mea­sure my waist with, and never do.” This drawer needs to have a throw­away day.

My niece, Bev, has his/ her junk draw­ers in the kitchen. “Mine is filled with ex­tra keys to the house, mag­nets, notepads that come in the mail, pen­cils, old key rings, and ex­pired coupons--- things I prob­a­bly will never use. My use­ful items are pens, scis­sors, tape, cal­cu­la­tor, coupon or­ga­nizer. I try to clean out the use­less junk once a year, but some­how it fills back up.”

Bev con­tin­ues, “My hus­band’s junk drawer holds tape mea­sure, screw driver, su­per glue, mask­ing tape, per­ma­nent mark­ers, ra­zor knife, and quite a few use­less pieces. I can’t name them, but they’ve been in there since we moved in the house and have never been used. If my scis­sor dis­ap­pears, I can usu­ally find it in his junk drawer. Some­times I won­der why we save all this junk.”

My niece, Nancy, claims, “My hus­band is an or­ga­nized per­son. Ev­ery­thing in his so- called junk drawer has its place and ev­ery­thing goes back to its place when it’s done be­ing used. That is, un­less Gracie or I bor­rowed it and didn’t re­turn it to the proper place. Long ago, he wrote “Dad’s scis­sor” on one, in the hopes that we’d re­turn it to its spe­cial spot, where it is sup­posed to be.”

I think all junk draw­ers, whether messy or com­part­men­tal­ized, have sto­ries to tell. What kind of story does your dis­tin­guished junk drawer tell?

Ca­role Christman Koch Wel­come To My World

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