Ammo Grrrll meditates on what she might save in FIFTEEN MINUTES. She writes:
When I read about the tragic fire that devastated Paradise, California, a few months ago, one of the most heart-breaking pieces of information was that the lucky escapees had all of 15 minutes to gather what they could and get out with their lives. Nearly 60 people didn’t make it.
I looked around at my accumulated possessions of a lifetime and wondered what on earth I would elect to save.
First of all, having recently sustained a minor but extremely painful burn on my right ring finger from a bizarre incident with a teacup hot enough to burn through three layers of skin (the dermis, epidermis, and Santa Maria, I think), I would now be inclined just to GET OUT and not even push the 15 minutes.
But stipulating that I really did have the 15 minutes without risk, what was worth saving? Most of the irreplaceable items are heavy and awkward – 14 large, combination picture/scrapbooks with tons of family history, lovingly organized over years by a person of late, late middle age who may or may not have a slight case of OCD; the little glass dog my maternal grandfather won at the fair in 1883 when he was five; my large triple-matted framed picture of my boyfriend, Gary Cooper; the hand-typed, framed letter Daddy got from the Secretary of the Navy when he mustered out after World War II.
I only have four or five pieces of “real” jewelry, most of far greater sentimental value than major worth – a pretty bracelet Mr. AG gave me for our 15th wedding anniversary exactly half a lifetime ago, another nice gold bracelet he gave me for my 50th birthday, and a couple other baubles, including my gold wedding band for which we paid $27 in 1967. But unless I’m working out with weights, I usually have that on.
There is no clothing that would make the cut, though quite a few favorites that I would miss if they were gone. It takes a long time to get t-shirts and jeans tempered to the perfect level of softness. When the yellow bags come around from Disabled Vets asking for “old clothing,” I just have to write them a check and explain that I am still wearing my old clothing. Depending on the weather, I might try to throw in my Navajo blanket jacket I bought in Santa Fe when I had not come prepared for the temperature at that elevation. It cost $300, weighs about 40 pounds, and will keep one warm to 30 below zero. Perfect for visiting relatives in Minnesota from late September to mid-May.
I have no silly overpriced shoes from Jimmy Choo, Jimmy Kimmel, or Jimmy Stewart. I have three or four nice pairs of cowgirl boots, but none that couldn’t be replaced. Also no insanely-iexpensive handbags, just a $19.95 black leather fanny pack, always in fashion, goes with everything. Haha. I kid. I know it’s awful and fairly screams either “Clueless Tourist” or “Geezer!” I just don’t care. It holds my Driver’s License, Carry Permit, guest passes to the Desert Botanical Garden, insurance cards, some nice fortune cookie fortunes, one Visa Card, a nail clippers, a lipstick, and a little cash.
Naturally, besides the fanny pack, it would be rather important to have the checkbook and a bunch of financial records and, of course, the cellphone and computer, or at least the memory stick.
What the heck to do about firearms and especially an EXTREMELY heavy accumulation of ammo from whence I got my name and column? The weapons themselves are pretty conveniently located for easy access and urgent egress. On television and sometimes in old cowboy movies, ammo that caught fire would start going off. I don’t know if that is accurate or not, but I think it would probably be safe for looters to come back in the vicinity by 2025.
We probably have well over 1000 books, winnowed way down from the 5000 we had before the move to Arizona. Many are out of print now, of course, and almost all of my favorite authors have gone to that Algonquin Roundtable in the Sky. Yeah, of course, there are e-books. I have such a device, thanks to Mr. AG, but I really prefer holding an actual book and turning the pages. Habits of a lifetime die hard. So there’s at least a couple of shelves of absolute favorites that I might try to shovel into the trunk of the car.
Mr. AG (the famous novelist, Max Cossack, with his FABULOUS second novel – “Zarah’s Fire” — coming within days on Amazon), and I are both overly attached to “souvenirs,” defined as pretty much anything that triggers a fond memory. A lifetime of fond memories produce several drawers, bins, closets and one storage locker full of stuff that must be saved. Forever. When we pass away, we have no doubt whatsoever that our son will engage the world’s largest dump truck to haul it all away. He has to make room for his own collection of priceless Bobbleheads and Twins plastic cups.
Our only hope at preserving anything is to become famous enough that either the Smithsonian or one of the three colleges I attended decides to archive all my gun show t-shirts and travel journals (“Gotta love Maui. Oh, the smell of plumeria! Had outstanding Macadamia Nut Pie for breakfast…” “Israel is amazing! Especially the Israeli Breakfast Buffet!” “Amsterdam is quite the city – hookers in windows and bikes thrown into the canals and wonderful steak from Argentina.”).
With insights like those, preservation for posterity seems unlikely.