What gets left behind (RR + more)

mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
edited February 2016 in Record Collecting
I was originally going to blog about this but Ms. Damn's photobooth thread compelled me to share this with Strut first (most excellent thread btw A******).

My old high school Latin teacher passed away in May. He was, by far, the most formative adult presence I knew as a high school student, more so than probably even my parents (at least in terms of positive influence). You know how people always reminisce about "that one teacher that changed your life"? Well, that was him for me and a lot of other students. I actually set up a memorial blog (so 00s!) for him: http://paulshickle.blogspot.com/

In any case, my cousin Phil was also very close to him...in fact, for the last seven years, Phil basically helped look after Mr. Shickle after he had retired from teaching (after 40+ years!), especially since he had no next-of-kin and basically, there was no one to take care of him. To make a long story short, in a show of gratitude, Mr. Shickle made Philip one of only a small handful of his inheritors including almost everything in his house of some 40+ years. The only exception to this was that another one of his students inherited all the books that Mr. Shickle collected. He collected a lot of books. 500 book boxes worth. Shit is real - it's all in the garage, I seen it. You have to understand: Mr. Shickle was an incredible pack rat and collector of minutiae. He had more Franklin Mint stuff and commerative plates and small figurines than you can shake a stick at. He owned so many books because he was a member of dozens of book-of-the-month clubs, not to mention stacks and stacks of magazines.

It's hard to catalog all the random shit he had but I was at his old house the other day and there's things like old Polaroid land cameras, super-8 cameras, a few dozen old board games, it's difficult to even know where to begin. Phil invited me over to pick out anything I might want from Mr. Shickle's belongings, which included about 600 LPs, almost all of them in pristine condition. It was a very strange collection in a lot of ways...lots of '70s and '80s country albums (Barbara Mandell, holla), jazz artist boxsets (Time-Life style), your requisite classical albums out the wazoo...but sprinkled in the mix there were titles like James Brown's "Hell" (mind you, that was the ONLY James Brown album he had), William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful" LP, a few later year Marvin Gaye titles, some old '60s rock like the Jefferson Airplane, Nilsson, the Kinks, Milleneum, plus a couple David Bowie titles from his glam rock period. Probably my favorite record that I kept was a copy of "The White Album" with original poster and Beatles' pictures still intact.

The eclectiness of these random soul and rock titles really made me wonder how he came upon something like James Brown's "Hell" (maybe it was b/c he was a devout Catholic...who knows?) or why of all the Aretha Franklin LPs he owned (i.e. just one), it would be "This Girl's In Love With You" instead of, say, "I Never Loved a Man.") These are, of course, questions, I'll never get an answer to.But the records were actually less interesting to me than all the photos, postcards, letters and stamps he collected. LIke I said, he was a pack rat and he was almost 80 when he passed so he had decades of stuff accumulated. And what I was thinking, in thumbing through all this was: with no family to pass this onto, what happens to all these accumulated memories?

All these scraps of random flotsam that we keep, thinking that it may matter one day? And what does it mean that what we really leave behind are just drawers full of old clipped out stamps and slides and photos and postcards and letters that have no inherent sentimental value left insofar as everyone surrounding them, included in them are likely dead?

So...I don't know. Maybe I just wanted to do something small to rail against the inevitable oblivion. Maybe I just felt like some of this should survive for reasons I can't even articulate. I took a small envelope of old stamps and a small box of slides and I decided to scan some of it in to put on Mr. Shickle's memorial blog but also just share some of these images with ya'll. Snapshots (literally) from the past.













February 9, 1957



January 10, 1954 (that's Mr. Shickle on the far left)



June, 1957



May 10, 1954. 701 S. Oak, bloomington, Ill.

  Comments


  • mylatencymylatency 10,475 Posts
    5 stars, I think this is "mission accomplished" for you Oliver







    and one day in the cold distant future aliens/future historians/archaeologists/lizard people will unearth these bytes and have a good laugh at our packrat-ism and historical nostalgia

    "e-memorized it"

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    A few more color slides:


    June, 1957


    January 1, 1955. Rose Parade.


    (no date). Santa Fe Station, Pasadena (again, that's Mr. Shickle)

  • theory9theory9 1,128 Posts
    5 stars, I think this "mission accomplished"

  • asprinasprin 1,765 Posts
    Touching post Oliver. It does seem like we collect to deal with fleeting time and the ephemeral existance we hold so dear. Thank you for this post.

  • nzshadownzshadow 5,500 Posts
    Wow. amazing post.

    thank you for the pictures...

    it is a strange position to be in, that of observer into a deceased persons life. Especially a collector. all those objects with so many personal memories and emotions attached to them by their owner, to an observer seem like a random collection of 'things'.

    the obvious parallel with our collections makes this post all the more powerful.

    thanks man.

  • paulnicepaulnice 924 Posts

    Very cool of you to do this.
    I think about this kind of stuff all the time.
    The "things" that we accumulate throughout our lives.
    What does any of it mean once we're gone?
    Even if he had family to leave it to?
    Aside from photographs, would most of it had been discarded/thrown away?
    What he left behind are pieces of himself really.
    But aside from your own memories of him, how do you even begin to make any sense of what's there and what any of it meant to him?
    And you just know that there's one or two items amongst all that stuff that probably had untold sentimental value to Mr. Shickle and no one else.
    What will happen to those items?
    Into the fire like Rosebud?

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts

    Jan 26, 1957. Castle of Fantasyland, Disneyland.


    New Years 1955. at midnight. 116 Violet, Monrovia.


    Jan 18, 1958. Celebrating Mom's Birthday.


    Mar., 1957

  • asprinasprin 1,765 Posts
    O, maybe a flickr page of these items would be more appropriate than a blog. Just a thought.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    O, maybe a flickr page of these items would be more appropriate than a blog. Just a thought.

    Yeah, the same thought crossed my mind. I'm going to go back and get more photos. It's not that big a hassle to digitize this stuff and personally, I really like the timewarp quality of it all.

  • kicks79kicks79 1,309 Posts
    Touching post ODub.
    Makes me think that time and our memories is all that we really have.

  • asprinasprin 1,765 Posts
    Absolutely. I would love to hear your take on these as a parent.

    I imagine a child becomes a daily reminder of time passing since they change so much on a day to day basis. To me these photos are a reminder that every second is precious and what we take for granted or what we treat as an everyday event will one day be a faint memory left behind on a faded, washed out print/jpg.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    Forgot...here's a minor mystery:

    Mr. Shickle owned this gold watch for years and looking at it, I realize that it was actually custom engraved for one "Harry L. (or maybe E.) Borchers" but I have no idea who the hell that is or why my teacher would have ended up with a watch engraved to someone by a different name.

    It's also a very unusual Omega pocket watch insofar as the dial is set so that the stem is at 3 o' clock instead of the usual 12. I've yet to find another Omega watch, using roman numerals, with the same positioning.



  • dayday 9,612 Posts
    This is a fascinating thread and a perfect example of why I've stuck around this board for so long.

    I see Oliver getting involved in the discovery of this man's personal, private life, and that, in and of itself, is interesting to me.
    This whole thing raises so many questions (who will be rummaging through my personal history? Do all these 'things' even matter? etc.). Again, excellent thread.
    Please keep us posted.

  • waxjunkywaxjunky 1,841 Posts
    My grandparents on my mom's side are both well into their 90s. They're finally moving into an assisted living community near my aunt in Palm Springs. Their garage is full of all kinds of random stuff that my mom and aunt will sort through later this month (no records). I've been pondering mortality (mostly other people's) more and more over the last few years (I'm 33). Life is truly precious and short.

    I had been blessed with some great teachers in my life. At times, I feel like I may even want to teach someday. Then I get all cyncial about the realities of the job (or at least my perceived realities). Anyhow, although I never had the pleasure of having Mr. Shickle as a teacher, I know that his passing is a tremendous loss. Great teachers are a rare commodity.

  • asprinasprin 1,765 Posts
    O, so where are these people in the photos, the kids etc? It seems like he had some roots in CA.

  • nzshadownzshadow 5,500 Posts
    O, Your post reminded me of my brothers activities, he is presently busy cataloging all my Grandfathers photos after his passing last year. We are trying to obtain his service records as well.
    Here are a few that he sent me:



    He was a UN Observer in India and Pakistan in the early seventies



    At a party with my Grandma and a fellow airman.



    RNZAF somewhere in the pacific WWII



    Bombing Prep.



    Granddad (left) with a fellow airman.



    Wedding photo



    Inspecting the RNZAF special guard of honour with Dutch price Bernhard



    Grandads cabinet, all his medals were stolen from his room at the servicemen???s home after his death, we are still looking for them???

    My other Grandfather (on my mothers side) fought in WWii in the middle east and Europe, was captured and spent 2 years in a POW camp before being liberated by the Americans. My brother is busy cataloging all the letters he wrote to his wife back home in NZ.

  • karlophonekarlophone 1,697 Posts
    i had 3 grandparents die in their 90s in the last 3-4 years (the 4th died a long time ago), so theres been some hefty "sifting thru ephemera" going on for me, being the only one in my family with the interest and patience to sort and contemplate the stuff. So i absolutely appreciate your efforts. And yeah, a lot of it is just stuff, but its funny how ive "adopted" a lot of my grandparents random things - i dont know what the hell they saved the stuff for , but now I think its cool for my own reasons! On top of that at least one grandfather was a major packrat. Ever look thru an intact fully loaded scrapbook from the 19teens? Theres inside jokes in there I have NO idea how to interpret!

    Anyway, one question: you are digitizing slides - are you using a scanner, and if so, what brand/model? Is it easy? thanks-

  • Last year, I was at a flea market and in a particularly morbid frame of mind when I bought a woman's scrapbook of her last years. It's an 8-1/2 by 11, college-lined, wire-bound notebook filled with diary entries, notes, greeting cards, postcards, recipes and newspaper clippings. It begins with entries dated 1969 and ends with the inscription, "Mother made things right with the Lord & asked for forgiveness for her sins. She died in Fremont Kaiser Hospital July 27, 1977. Her body cremated [sic] & stored where Margaret McIntosh put them [sic]."

    I was surprised how much she wrote about feeling decrepit and missing sexual relations. I also couldn't help wondering how the notebook ended up at an antique show.

    I guess whatever you do in life, good, bad, large or small, sooner or later no one gives a shit.

  • DrJoelDrJoel 932 Posts
    My roomate from college, one of my best friends, did this huge project right before we graduated. His grandfather had played basketball at our school (La Salle University) way back in the day and my roomate decided to look him up in some of the old yearbooks they had in the library. The more he looked for, the more he found and he ended up making this huge scrapbook that was a huge dedication to his grandfather. He originally started it (whether knowingly or subconciously) to distract him from some other stuff going on in his life and it turned out to be one of the most important things he's done yet. His family loved it, of course, and his grandfather got to see it before he passed away a month or two later.

    Great thread, ambition, and will O-Dub. i think you probably just changed what this whole day was gonna be about for me.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    O, so where are these people in the photos, the kids etc? It seems like he had some roots in CA.

    I'm still in the process of learning a lot of this myself. When he passed, my cousin had to handle all the funeral/memorial arrangements...Mr. Shickle had more or less asked him to take care of these kind of things. I order to help alleviate some of the burden, I offered to write the obit plus give the eulogy (I thought it was more appropriate for Phil to give it but he didn't want the added work and so asked me if I'd be down to do it).

    So...it's challenging, to say the least, to suddenly try to piece together a man's life after he's dead and with no surviving (immediate) next of kin. HIs old co-workers gave me some info as did other students but Paul (Mr. Shickle) was always more interested in other people's lives than necessarily sharing his own. I learned more about him over the course of 48 hours than I had known for the four years he was my teacher. It helped that I had actually interviewed him around 2002 and so I had some info but on the grand scheme of things, it barely scratched the surface.

    That said...in writing his obit and eulogy, I learned some stuff that I couldn't include in either. For that same reason, I won't get into it here but let's just say that he definitely lived some real, real shit as a child and teen...he was actually kidnapped in college and held for ransom and in some ways, this was probably one of the least traumatic of his experiences. He also kept a secret that I don't think any of his students ever knew about, nor co-workers, nor family but in discovering it, it suddenly gave his entire life such a profound new meaning to me. In many ways, I wanted to talk about it in his elegy but it wasn't my right to do that.

    As someone else alluded in this thread, it is very much like unraveling a mystery using what's left behind as your clues. To answer the original question above, he didn't have family roots in L.A...not exactly at least. Paul grew up in Illinois (Bloomington) and most of his family, including brothers and sisters, stayed behind there. He left because, as a Catholic, he wasn't able to find work as a teacher in that region, in that era and health problems, stemming from his childhood, also kept him out of other positions. Los Angeles, because of the climate, seemed like the move to make and he moved out there sometime in the early 1950s.

    If anyone here is familiar with Pasadena, Mr. Shickle worked for a few years at Vroman's bookstore which is basically an institution there and through it, met a lot of the local intelligensia and literati. That helped him get a job teaching at San Marino High School. San Marino - especially back in the 1950s - would have been an incredibly homogenous and parochial and elitist town (not much has changed in many ways) and an "outsider" like Paul would not have been welcomed into the fledging high school if not for all the people willing to vouch for him based on his work at the bookstore.

    I always thought he was living out there with his cousin John and that was it but I found letters addressed to his mother at his Los Angeles address...as well as someone named "Ben Shickle" and I'm still trying to figure out who that is. It's not one of his siblings...it might have been a nephew. He also has power tools labeled as belonging to his sister so it's possible that members of his family joined him out in L.A. for a spell but at someone point, they definitely left since, as noted, none of his family were in L.A. when he died; they were all back in Illinois.

    That said, he definitely left roots in L.A. - his students. He had taught for so long and had made such an impression of students that some of his early students from the 1960s, grew up, got married, had kids...and their KIDS had Mr. Shickle as a teacher. But all of them knew him the same way I did, more or less, through the lens of a teacher/student relationship.

  • CousinLarryCousinLarry 4,618 Posts
    O, so where are these people in the photos, the kids etc? It seems like he had some roots in CA.

    I'm still in the process of learning a lot of this myself. When he passed, my cousin had to handle all the funeral/memorial arrangements...Mr. Shickle had more or less asked him to take care of these kind of things. I order to help alleviate some of the burden, I offered to write the obit plus give the eulogy (I thought it was more appropriate for Phil to give it but he didn't want the added work and so asked me if I'd be down to do it).

    So...it's challenging, to say the least, to suddenly try to piece together a man's life after he's dead and with no surviving (immediate) next of kin. HIs old co-workers gave me some info as did other students but Paul (Mr. Shickle) was always more interested in other people's lives than necessarily sharing his own. I learned more about him over the course of 48 hours than I had known for the four years he was my teacher. It helped that I had actually interviewed him around 2002 and so I had some info but on the grand scheme of things, it barely scratched the surface.

    That said...in writing his obit and eulogy, I learned some stuff that I couldn't include in either. For that same reason, I won't get into it here but let's just say that he definitely lived some real, real shit as a child and teen...he was actually kidnapped in college and held for ransom and in some ways, this was probably one of the least traumatic of his experiences. He also kept a secret that I don't think any of his students ever knew about, nor co-workers, nor family but in discovering it, it suddenly gave his entire life such a profound new meaning to me. In many ways, I wanted to talk about it in his elegy but it wasn't my right to do that.

    As someone else alluded in this thread, it is very much like unraveling a mystery using what's left behind as your clues. To answer the original question above, he didn't have family roots in L.A...not exactly at least. Paul grew up in Illinois (Bloomington) and most of his family, including brothers and sisters, stayed behind there. He left because, as a Catholic, he wasn't able to find work as a teacher in that region, in that era and health problems, stemming from his childhood, also kept him out of other positions. Los Angeles, because of the climate, seemed like the move to make and he moved out there sometime in the early 1950s.

    If anyone here is familiar with Pasadena, Mr. Shickle worked for a few years at Vroman's bookstore which is basically an institution there and through it, met a lot of the local intelligensia and literati. That helped him get a job teaching at San Marino High School. San Marino - especially back in the 1950s - would have been an incredibly homogenous and parochial and elitist town (not much has changed in many ways) and an "outsider" like Paul would not have been welcomed into the fledging high school if not for all the people willing to vouch for him based on his work at the bookstore.

    I always thought he was living out there with his cousin John and that was it but I found letters addressed to his mother at his Los Angeles address...as well as someone named "Ben Shickle" and I'm still trying to figure out who that is. It's not one of his siblings...it might have been a nephew. He also has power tools labeled as belonging to his sister so it's possible that members of his family joined him out in L.A. for a spell but at someone point, they definitely left since, as noted, none of his family were in L.A. when he died; they were all back in Illinois.

    That said, he definitely left roots in L.A. - his students. He had taught for so long and had made such an impression of students that some of his early students from the 1960s, grew up, got married, had kids...and their KIDS had Mr. Shickle as a teacher. But all of them knew him the same way I did, more or less, through the lens of a teacher/student relationship.

    Sounds like you should write a book about him.

    And about the watch, you should get it cleaned up. If it was another mans watch and it was given to him it was probably important. It looks like it is getting some rust on the casing. You should take it to a good jewler and have them check it out.

  • hammertimehammertime 2,390 Posts
    from the comments in the blog you set up it looks like he has some family no? Anyway those comments are amazing:


    Mr. Shickle wanted to make sure I got a good college education. He and Mr. Peterson, my biology teacher, came to our house one night to urge my parents to consider colleges that my parents thought were too expensive and too far away. Mr. Shickle took me, at his own expense, on a ten-day trip to visit six colleges on the east coast, so that I could decide.

    Mr. Shickle helped me figure out how to afford this costly education, too. He helped me get a small scholarship to continue studying Greek and Latin at college.

    I did go to college, at Harvard, and I stayed on there for law school, ending up in New York for work, where I have lived ever since. Paul Shickle changed the course of my life, and I???m glad he did.

  • HarveyCanalHarveyCanal "a distraction from my main thesis." 13,234 Posts
    That's some wonderful stuff there, Oliver.

    My grandfather who passed in 1974 left thousands of slides taken on trips through the jungles of Panama. He worked on the Canal and would often go on expeditions with Indian guides that would have him chronicling all of the plants and insects that he'd encounter along the way. My uncle still has a sizable collection of preserved tropical insects, including dozens of my favorite...the rhinocerus beetle. Here's the best photo of a rhino beetle that I could find quickly online, but the one's we'd see in Panama were as big as a fist and they'd have fur all over them...and they could fly. They can apparently carry 850 times their own weight.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    from the comments in the blog you set up it looks like he has some family no? Anyway those comments are amazing:


    Mr. Shickle wanted to make sure I got a good college education. He and Mr. Peterson, my biology teacher, came to our house one night to urge my parents to consider colleges that my parents thought were too expensive and too far away. Mr. Shickle took me, at his own expense, on a ten-day trip to visit six colleges on the east coast, so that I could decide.

    Mr. Shickle helped me figure out how to afford this costly education, too. He helped me get a small scholarship to continue studying Greek and Latin at college.

    I did go to college, at Harvard, and I stayed on there for law school, ending up in New York for work, where I have lived ever since. Paul Shickle changed the course of my life, and I???m glad he did.

    He did have surviving nieces and nephews but wasn't close to any of them. It's very telling that he only left part of his estate to a single family member (a niece) whereas he left the rest to two students (including the one whose testimonial appears above) plus two charities.

    All of his family lived out in the Midwest and I don't get the sense that he visited them or vice versa. That said, Shickle was very much into genealogy and spent a lot of his free time tracing his family's history, particularly the origins of his name which apparently hails back to Bavaria and the Sheckel family.

  • Great thread.

    I spoke with a venture capitalist over drinks a couple of months ago about a geneology webservice he was working on. What if much of what you are doing now for your teacher could have been done in real time by the man himself? A web scapbook of video, audio, photos, and writings that could be passed from one generation to the next. Of course, those web savvy could do this right now, but this would be an easy template that anyone could use.

    I thought it was an amazing idea that will become reality in the near future.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts

    Very cool of you to do this.
    I think about this kind of stuff all the time.
    The "things" that we accumulate throughout our lives.
    What does any of it mean once we're gone?
    Even if he had family to leave it to?
    Aside from photographs, would most of it had been discarded/thrown away?
    What he left behind are pieces of himself really.
    But aside from your own memories of him, how do you even begin to make any sense of what's there and what any of it meant to him?
    And you just know that there's one or two items amongst all that stuff that probably had untold sentimental value to Mr. Shickle and no one else.
    What will happen to those items?
    Into the fire like Rosebud?

    A couple years ago, I spent Christmas in Maryland with my mom, aunt, and uncle going through my grandparents' stuff. My grandfather had died a good 10 years before. My grandmother was still alive, but living in a nursing home, physically a mess and beginning to slip into dementia. It had been decided that this was the time to go through everything to decide who was going to get what.

    While I understood the impulse and, ultimately, the necessity of doing such a thing, it struck me as being wrong somehow. Not just because my grandmother was still alive (in fact, she didn't die until earlier this year) but also because it seemed so personally intrusive. I mean, furniture and whatnot is one thing, but to actually go through drawers of photos and keepsakes and memories seemed to be a step too far to me. We had already done something of a run-through when my grandfather died, and we did another when my grandmother finally moved out of the house she had lived in for more than 50 years. At that point, things had been pretty well stripped down to the necessary and the very sentimental.

    So now, all of a sudden, my grandmother's children and one of her grandchildren are supposed to pass judgement on what gets kept and what gets thrown away? It didn't sit right with me. This was her sentimentality, not ours, and yet somehow, it was to become ours even though a lot would be lost in the transferral. I watched my aunt pause for a moment as she examined a picture of her parents--my grandfather a dapper pilot in his WWII Air Force uniform, my grandmother looking like the model woman of the 1940s--before throwing it in the big Hefty bag. It meant something to my grandmother; it didn't mean much to my aunt. How is a third party supposed to square those two viewpoints? Are we supposed to save those things that hold sentimental value for the deceased and no one else? I see both sides of that coin.

    I ended up with some items from my grandmother and grandfather after they each passed. I'm happy to have them--to have something tangible and emblemic of who they were and what they meant--but as the cliche goes, the memories are bigger than any item or collection of items. The "stuff" can be symbolic of the people who once owned it, but the person--the meaning and life and legacy of the person--is bigger than the things the person accumulated.

    Shit...if I had a point in the paragraphs above, I can't remember what it was supposed to be. I just remember sifting through everything and feeling such abject sadness that at that moment, the entirety of a person was reduced to what that person owned. It confuses me to this day.

  • pickwick33pickwick33 8,946 Posts
    You have to understand: Mr. Shickle was an incredible pack rat and collector of minutiae. He had more Franklin Mint stuff and commerative plates and small figurines than you can shake a stick at. He owned so many books because he was a member of dozens of book-of-the-month clubs, not to mention stacks and stacks of magazines. It's hard to catalog all the random shit he had but I was at his old house the other day and there's things like old Polaroid land cameras, super-8 cameras, a few dozen old board games, it's difficult to even know where to begin.

    Well, you can start with the fact that he apparently had a color camera in the fifties back when it was still a rarity. That's the part that got to me, since usually we only see that decade through a B&W lens. Very impressive, indeed.

  • canonicalcanonical 2,100 Posts
    This thread is very sad, in a good way.

    I went to an estate sale earlier this summer, the wildest experience of my life (it was the place I copped a $25 17" iMac G4). Anyway, he was an obsessive collector and mathematician. I was the second person in the house, alone looking in his belongings for a few hours. I never tried looking at his photos because it was too overwelming. I could barely handle what I was looking at (countless books, puzzles, games, cameras, sound equipment, tapes, etc). I could have spent months in that house, speculating his life story.

    It's sad when you look at these things, rumage through them and think about this persons life, summed up in objects and photographs.
Sign In or Register to comment.