Stuff And The Proper Storage Of It

By Major Van Harl USAF Ret

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Wisconsin –-(  The Colonel strongly suggested going to South Dakota on vacation, a fun trip visiting in-laws.

One of the problems of military life is the moving you have to do. The government will only pay for shipping a prescribe amount of weight, based on your rank.

Of course my family loves to collect stuff and we are always pushing the envelope on our maximum weight. Certain givens of going on a road-trip with the Colonel are we get to listen to Public Radio and we are going to stop at every yard-sale and thrift store along the way.

One show we listened to was about the rental storage business. You know those places that you rent a small room or a large garage-type space and fill it up with all the over-flow of stuff you have, that will not fit in your home. I know these units well because our family has lots of stuff and we have lived in military housing a number of times. Military housing is not known for its space, but military families are known for the ownership of a lot of stuff. Every time you are stationed at a new base you have to buy neat things from that part of the world.

I still have a Cypress Knee that I cut off a tree in the swamps of Virginia over 40 years ago. Then there is that expensive twelve place, five unit set of Czech crystal we bought over 30 years ago and have used maybe five times.

It has been said that “junk amasses to the space available.” If you move into a home with more square footage than the last house, you will fill up the empty space within the year. What I learned from Public Radio that road-trip was, the storage rental business is a $4 billion a year business.

Americans refuse to limit their collection of stuff even when the house it full. So they rent a place to store their treasures and keep collecting. It would appear that the size of the average family has been cut in half since the 1950s, however in the same time the size of the average home in this country has doubled. We just want more. I remember when my father, the Navy Master Chief, moved the family into our first three bedroom one bath home. We though we were living large that day.

Try to tell your recent college graduated child with new spouse in tow that a two bedroom, one bath home is all they can expect to have in their early days of marriage. You have provided them with a standard of living all their young life that they cannot sustain. Should you find yourself in the position of having your adult child, plus new spouse plus their stuff moving in with you, start looking for a rental storage unit right a way. Get the kid’s stuff in the unit before they can move it into your home. You don’t want them to get too comfortable in your house with their stuff, they may never leave.

One of the sad sides to using a rental storage unit is for some people this is the end of the road for their precious stuff. They move their entire life into the unit when they can no longer afford to live in a home, then they do not pay their storage bill. At some point the bill either has to be satisfied or the contents of the unit (read a person’s life) is sold to garage sale enthusiasts.

Even some military members fall into this problem area. They store their lives and head out-of-state to an overseas assignment or a deployment to the war, but they don’t pay the rent. With the Colonel retired we have stopped moving, but we have our home on one side of the state and our farm on the other side. We built a pole barn last fall and it seemed so large when we took possession of it empty. Many trips back and forth across the state with stops at more yard-sales and thrift stores in between, we are working very hard to fill up that new building. We have come to a command decision in our older lives, the daughter can deal will all the stuff at our estate sale.

I had a relative who was a numismatist and on his death bed he was still buying coins. He liked acquiring stuff and he did it literally until the very end. Americans love their stuff, but sometimes you can’t take it home and you most assuredly can’t take it with you.

Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
[email protected]

About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School.  A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI.  His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training.  He believes “evil hates organization.”  [email protected]

  • 2 thoughts on “Stuff And The Proper Storage Of It

    1. I was also a navy brat. We moved about every year( things were different then ) we learned austerity from an early age. That lasted until my father retired. After 40 years in the same place, you should have seen my parents place!

    2. the Bible says what profit it a man if he gain the whole world and loose his own soul. Stuff does not go with you to the after life. Sorry Egyptian Pharaohs.

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