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200413 April 13, 2020

Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    (Editor's Note:  Three years ago I published this story about getting rid of stuff from my life. With the Social Distancing making us stay home during the crisis I have once again (since the start of Lent) been getting rid of stuff again. It is a good way to spend the time if you can't find anything else to do while you are staying home.)

    We come into this world with nothing, and leave through the same mystic portal in a similar manner. Between those two momentous events in our existence lurks a problem shared by many and often only emerges as a recognized burden as we enter the twilight of our days. 


    What kind of stuff, you ask. I am talking about the stuff defined in the dictionary as property, as personal belongings or equipment; things.

    In our earliest existence, as babes in arms, we owned nothing. We were given simple things by others such as love, kisses, hugs, diaper changes, and the animalistic needs of food and water. These things, thankfully, occupied no space and only existed for a brief moment in time. Okay, maybe the food did eventually grow on a person and maybe such growth is perceived as a problem and often takes great efforts to get rid of the extra weight. But when we take that final breath and hang up our spurs partner, the extra ten pounds we never seemed to be able to shed is not something others will have to deal with. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust as the saying goes. It is what it is.

    Only when we commence growing older, do we begin to accumulate quantities of material possessions. Unlike the rolling stone that gathers no moss, we humans do. Well, maybe not moss, but many other things. We are actually made early victims of "want" as we begin heading down this materialistic road. I have decided our taste of honey starts with birthdays. At first we own nothing, but beginning with our first birthday we become the recipients of "presents" from others which fill our toy chests like the discarded wrapping paper fills the trash bin. 

    As we grow older and start to venture out of the confines of our abodes, our stash grows. It starts simple, perhaps a rock from a playground, a magic wand that looks like a stick to adults, a tapered bird feather, a weed we think is a flower, or some brightly colored leaves, picked up on the way home and placed in the window sill to be admired. We scrounge through other people's discards to find treasures appreciated only by ourselves - a tattered shoe box, a rubber band, a pretty bottle, or a length of scarlet ribbon.

    When we get even older, and start to earn a living and taking home a pay check, our stockpiling of possessions accelerates. Unlike the before mentioned rolling stone gathering no moss, our possessions expand more like the snowball that grows larger and larger with each cycle of our lives. Heaven help those who find something which launches them on the path of becoming a collector! Those lost souls are lured to begin gathering things like stamps, coins, dolls, postcards, stuffed animals, or a plethora of other physical objects. Yard sales and Goodwill stores are the Devil's playgrounds for them. Before we know it, we have amassed a houseful of furniture, clothing, shoes, books, tools, dishes, quilts, records and movies and other memorabilia of all shapes and sizes. We add extra shelves, buy plastic tubs, and build storage sheds in the back yard to accommodate our growing stockpile of things we feel we cannot live without. We are driven to find places to accommodate them. When the shelves and display cabinets fill, we are content to store those objects safely away for a later day and for a purpose we really cannot explain, even to ourselves. Our storage area begins to resemble the final scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

    This is a testament to my own life. When I moved away from Huntsville following my graduation from Lee, all my stuff fit in the rear of a 1963 Chevy Impala station wagon. My possessions did not grow much during the next four years when I was in college. I suppose my acquisitions began when I got married and joined the Air Force following college. In my 20-year military career I visited many exotic places and retuned home with the sparkling treasures of the orient, much like the swashbuckling pirates and Viking raiders of old before me. Over time, my booty grew with each visit to foreign soil and encounter with each new exotic civilization. During the apex of my accumulating years I acquired hobbies and pastimes which demanded massive amounts of not only primary items, but also all the accessories available to go with them. Now, it is prudent for me to make it known; I have never considered myself a hoarder in the classic television portrayal sense and my domicile never got as bad as those depicted on those shows. However, I state under oath, my existence increasing became filled with stuff.

    I have evolved to the realization that I accept the idea the things which I have gathered and always treasured are of value only to me while at the same time they will eventually pose a burden to those I leave behind.  If Gabriel blows his horn for me tomorrow, what good are all my personal items to them? They are not all treasured heirlooms, as in prominent dynasties, destined to be passed down or fought over by jealous heirs and the generations to follow.

    The concept of giving things away and discarding possessions is a deep rooted but seldom practiced theme of the Christian faith. Ecclesiastes 3:6 tells us there is  "a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away." My time to cast away is upon me. 

    Some Christians honor the season of Lent by giving up things they value for the 40 days before Easter. Now I am a Christian, but I fear the idea of giving up coffee, chocolate, cookies, or ice cream for 40 days in a row might demand more faith than a mere sinner like me can handle. Those choices rank right up there with the ridiculous concept of New Year's resolutions destined to be broken before the rooster crows three times. Instead, this year I vowed to give up something much more tangible - my stuff.

    Since the beginning of the season of Lent, each day I symbolically filled one bag of stuff to cast away. While departing with some of my stuff was easy, like the bag containing 16 worn or ill-fitting shirts, other decisions were painful enough to serve as a testament of my faith to any non-believer. One day I filled a bag with a dozen hats - souvenirs of sporting teams and past events, ocean cruises, foreign lands, and products and organizations to which I vowed my undying support. The next day it was a tanned dear skin for which I paid $3.00 when I was a 12-year-old Boy Scout in Troop 66. I am still unable to explain exactly why I treasured it so much to have hung on to it for over half a century. 

    I saw golf as a rich man’s game when I was in high school, and played my first game in college. That said, I saw no reason to keep a second set of golf clubs which were only put to use once a year during my annual jaunt to Hilton Head Island. It was a cheap set anyway and I never really became proficient in the game designed to put a small white ball in a hole located several football field lengths away. To be honest, I was never good at the game, but thoroughly enjoyed commuting with nature for a long afternoon while I traversed the golf course. I now make a deep kept confession; I enjoyed searching for and collecting lost golf balls like Easter eggs much more than the actual game which must have been conceived by a drunken Scot following an extended night at the pub. Hence, the bag of 136 golf balls offered to the god of unneeded possessions the next day came easy.

    In a modern world where music is available on demand via the internet and can be stored as digital zeros and ones on a tiny piece of silicon smaller than your pinky finger's fingernail, the three rubber tubs of musical compact discs in storage are redundant and painlessly disposable. They never held the same memories as my collection of 2,336 Oldie-Goldie 45rpm vinyl records I disposed of a few years ago during an earlier too-much-stuff guilt trip. Now those same songs occupy no physical space in my home, but reside with thousands of other tunes in the cloud of current times. I gave a collector my copy of the “Meet the Beatles” 33 1/3rpm LP album which I bought at the Parkway City Montgomery Wards at the start of the British Invasion in 1964.

    In my continuing journey toward a stuff-free existence it was easy to relieve my burden of storing my old HO gauge trains, old board games, baseball cards I bought at the Grand News Stand, sacks of wires and outdated technological black boxes, and enough surplus military clothing and Boy Scout accessories to outfit a third world army. Included in that stack was the first pup tent I ever slept in as a Tenderfoot in 1957.

The church rummage sale will benefit greatly from my donation of bags of unopened or unfinished craft projects, boxes and floppy discs of outdated computer programs, things set aside to be fixed "some day," and surplus tools and supplies purchased but never utilized to accomplish said actions. Why did I still have the old Coleman stove I got for Christmas in 1962 for camping when several generations of better replacements have banished it to the back of the storage shed? Do I really need four soldering irons?

    I could go on, but I think I have sufficiently and embarrassingly stated my point enough. I had too much stuff and it was time to trim the fat from the lean. The oldest items deployed were three children's bedtime story books saved since the age of six when we lived in Redstone Park and I learned to read at Farley. Why? The newest was an electronic contraption I picked up last week at a thrift store and was unable to bring back to life.

    I am purposely keeping a 1955 picture book from East Clinton Elementary school containing the school photos received in trade for my own pictures that year.  I also saved my 1964 Lee High School Silver Sabre yearbook, along with my original Scout uniform, sporting my Eagle Scout badge, a 1960 National Jamboree patch and one from Camp Westmoreland. There are a lot of memories in that old uniform. I even have an autographed Gov. George C. Wallace business card he gave me when he spoke at Lee in 1963 and presented the Lee Generals band with a check to attend the Orange Bowl that year. It is safe, right along with the little card I received when I donated my lunch money to help procure and preserve the battleship U.S.S. Alabama when it was moved to Mobile.

    Still, there are some useless items that have been added to the stack one day only to be rescued from it the next. I have not used my precision Chicago shoe skates in many years, yet they remain that trophy symbol of my journey through puberty.  Carter’s Skateland on Traylor Island where they were worn, long ago fell victim to the wrecking ball, but my skates remain. The plain black leather boots are pale in comparison to the brightly colored pom-pom embellished white high-tops of the fairer gender in my youth. Yet, they attest to my ability to control my temper through the long agonizing process of transitioning from a novice skater, pulling myself along using the rails and walls, to the master of the local hardwood rink, traversing the designated course both forwards and backwards with grace and ease. They are immersed in memories of holding hands with cute members of the opposite sex during "Couples Only" sessions and the hormone-provoking sight of bare legs extending from thigh length skating skirts as I watched the pony-tailed owners "put their back sides in and shake them all about" and performed in unison all the other Hokey Pokey commands. While wearing these relics of my teenage life, I fell in love and had my heart broken, sometimes all in the same night. Memories of past friends, now awaiting me on the other side of the Pearly Gates, seeps from the recesses of my mind by just opening the broken-handled skate case and letting the strangely sweet odor of years of storage flood my nostrils. The skates have to stay. No one other than me would ever think twice about the future fate of such vintage articles, but they are immensely important to me. Besides, I tell myself, I still might get the urge to go skating some day.

    Where will I stop on my noble quest? I cannot say for sure. What will I ultimately keep? Who knows? Perhaps, in the end, when the bell tolls for me, my stuff will be reduced to only those intangible things I had as a newborn - memories of the hugs, the kisses, the laughter, and the love and respect of my remaining family and friends. Those are things which are too personal to ever fill a bag and discard. I’ll save them for tomorrow.

        Memphis, TN - I actually spent Saturday cleaning out half of my garage and was so tired afterwards I did not feel like working on the Traveller. Well, half the time was spent cleaning and the other half recalling the memories of the things in the boxes I worked on. I found things going all the way back to Each Clinton and Huntsville Junior High along with Scout and early Air Force memorabilia.

        I am still avoiding putting anything in print about things which have dates save the announcement for the planned reunion in September. I suppose it will take a while longer to determine if it needs to be changed, and I will keep you informed.

    I think the Social Distancing has resulted in more people having time to email me. Several of you have jumped on Don Wynn's idea of the Movie Trivia and have sent in your own movie suggestions. I have also had several stories sent in and I can't use all of them in this issue but do not worry, if they are not time sensitive,  I will get to them soon.  So, don't get upset John, Linda, Don, Curt, Janet, and others. I will get them soon. 

Last Week's Name That Tune Group
Songs for Social Distancing

Name That Tune

Jeffrey Fussell, LHS '66, "When socializing, my radio choice was naturally WAAY. On my own, I’d often sneak down to 1230 and listen to WBHP (aka “Big B”).   Once you set aside the stylistic and cultural difference between these two formats, the musical artistry of these country musicians was stunning. A lucky combination of the “Social Distancing” theme and some memorable artists got me through this week’s picks:"

 “Flowers on the Wall” – Statler Brothers
“Only the Lonely” – Roy Orbison
“Are you Lonesome Tonight” – Elvis Presley
“Hello Walls” – Faron Young
“In My Room” – Beach Boys

Linda Collinsworth Provost, LHS  '66,  didn't know the first one but got the other four correctly.

Tom Davidson, LHS '69, scored 100%

This Week's Name That Tune Group
Songs for Social Distancing

Name That Tune

Last Week's Movie of the Week Submitted by Don Wynn

Scene:  A young woman is on a trip. It’s raining and late at night, so she decides to find a place for the night.  She stops at a small motel and goes inside the office.  “Do you have a vacancy?” she asks.  The clerk says “We have 12 vacancies. 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.”  

Question 1:    What was the movie?
Question 2:  Who was the actor who played the young woman?
Question 3:  Who was the actor who played the clerk?
Question 4:     Who was the director?
Question 5:     Where did you see it?
Question 6:     Who did you see it with?

YouTube Video

John Drummond,  LHS '65

1)  The movie is "Psycho", filmed in black and white and released in 1960; billed as a horror/mystery/thriller.

2)  Janet Leigh, mother of Jamie Lee Curtis and ex-husband of the late Tony Curtis.

3)  A young Anthony Perkins played the part of Norman Bates, the deranged motel owner; his mother's first name was Norma.

4)  The director was Alfred Hitchcock; many critics and film fans agree that "Psycho" was his all-time best movie.

5)  I did not see the film until the fall of 1965.   I attended a free Friday night showing at the Auburn Student Activities  Center.  After tensely sitting on the edge of  my seat, it was a spooky walk home across the darkened college campus.

6)  My Auburn college roommate, Ken Megginson, saw the film with me.  Given that it was a nighttime showing, I was very glad to not have to walk home alone back to our apartment.

    The film was low-budget, partly due to being made in black and white, as opposed to color, costing a reported $800,000.  Worldwide, it grossed 32 million.  The 1960 censors objected to the shower scene, not because of the bloody knife attack, but on the grounds that a toilet could not be shown on screen.  Recall that in all TV shows at that time, married couples always slept in twin beds and wore full-length pajamas; never a nightgown, T-shirt or, God forbid, a father who slept shirtless.  And there was never a bathroom door, much less a bathroom.  For months after seeing the movie, film goers stayed out of the shower.  Janet Leigh reportedly took only baths for the rest of her life.

Linda Collinsworth Provost, LHS  '66,  "I have no idea when I first saw this masterpiece,  nor who I was with when I saw it.  I just know that I have seen it several times over the years.  (Not everyone is blessed with your elephant-like memory, T-Tommy.) I am a fan of mystery/suspense films & Hitchcock was a master.  One of my favorite things to do when I saw a Hitchcock film, was to look for the (almost) inevitable cameo appearance by Hitchcock himself.  He made 38 cameos in 37 of his approximately 49 films.  Psycho is not my favorite Hitchcock film; that would be "To Catch a Thief" with Cary Grant & Grace Kelly. 

But "Torn Curtain" & "The Birds" get honorable mention.  Oh, and also "North by Northwest" and "Vertigo."  Heck, I like them all. 

Hitch was known for his rear projection technique which I do not believe holds up well over time.  It is easy to recognize the technique because when people are riding in a car or running from a low flying plane in a corn field, the background in the scene looks fake & phony. 

This was fun.  Thanks

Also we had  correct responses from:

J.R. Brooks, LHS '64

Max Kull, LHS '67, "I know that the blood circling the drain in the shower scene was actually chocolate syrup."

This Week's Movie of the Week Submitted by Don Wynn

Scene: A housekeeper calls a man at his office to tell him “a mad dog is in the street and coming this way.”  The man leaves work quickly and heads home. Shortly, he arrives at home and the housekeeper points out the dog who is still down the street.  The dog is jumping around and is clearly ‘mad.’

The man takes a rifle out of the car, takes careful aim and kills the dog with a single shot of 75 yards or more.

His two kids who witnessed the shot were stunned because they had never seen their Dad hold a gun, much less make such a difficult shot.


  1. What is the name of the movie?

  2. What actor played the lead role in the movie?

  3. What actor played the mystery man behind the door?

  4. Who wrote the book this movie was based upon”

  5. Where were you when you saw this movie?

  6. Who were you with when you saw it?


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Mumps

Joel Weinbaum

LHS '64

    I had the Mumps at about the age of 10, 4th grade. I remember being told to avoid any activity except moving around the house quietly. At one point I had a high fever with delirium…confusion…strange thoughts. I was alone during the day with my dad at work and an older brother at school. My mother had passed months before so we were essentially on our own. But “mumps dropping,” meaning settling in the gonads, can cause sterility. But the worst at the time in my youth was the red measles during my senior year.

Subject:     Survival School
Jeffrey Fussell
LHS '66,

    Your story about Air Force survival training struck a familiar note this week. One of my son’s best friends is currently a FAIP at Columbus AFB. When he was at the Academy, he shared some hair=raising stories about his experience. Seems that little has changed in survival training.  Much respect and thanks to you, Josh, and all who have served or are serving.

Save the Date!
September 25 & 26, 2020
LHS Reunion
The Westin at Bridge Street
Huntsville, AL

More Information to Come Later
Reunion Contacts
Ann Wilson Redford (
Niles Prestage (
Sarajane Steigerwald Tarter (



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