What to do with grandma’s radio? Sell it online

Published 9:30 am Monday, April 26, 2010

Jeremy Irons, a British actor, wrote: “We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

As I was growing up, living in my grandmother’s home, I was surrounded by items that had memories of my grandmother’s family’s past. The Depression made these material items all the more dear to my grandmother and my mother and my uncle, who also lived with us. It was hard for them to let go of anything, even items such as egg cartons, old cards, string and the list could go on.

One of the items was an old Coronado radio. As long as I can remember the Coronado radio sat on a table next to the kitchen table. The radio announced news, bad weather and ballgames. I remember listening as a child to “The Romance of Helen Trent,” which was an early soap opera. That radio sat in the kitchen long after my grandmother died; long after my uncle died and still gave comfort to my mother when she moved back to the house in her later years. I knew the radio was an item she cherished. It was part of my memories of living in my grandmother’s home and later of my mother.

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When my mother died, I carried that radio to my home. We didn’t use it because it was very staticky and soon it was all static. It sat on the top of my refrigerator as a memory and every time I looked at it, I remembered my grandmother, my uncle and my mom.

Recently in the paring down of my life, I have little by little been letting go of physical property that represents memories. Sometimes keeping this physical property keeps me in the past and makes it hard for me to move on into the future. I thought long and hard about giving up my Coronado radio. My kids did not want it. I was not using the radio, and I am trying to go into the future with less stuff to take care of.

I decided to let go of my radio. I posted it on eBay and it sold. I was second guessing myself with each bit of packing that I put into the box. Had I done the right thing? Would I regret it? I sent the package with the UPS man thinking I would never know what had happened to the radio after the new owner received it.

I was very surprised when I received an e-mail a few weeks after selling my radio on eBay. The gentleman who bought my radio was almost done restoring it. He wanted to know more of the family history of the radio. I sent him an e-mail explaining about it long being a family fixture.

Usually selling on eBay is a very generic experience. You sell the item, the customer receives it and you never hear from them again. However, I have had a couple of very interesting experiences when selling on eBay and my experience with Mr. Montana Radio Man was one of them. After sending my e-mail explaining about the radio, this wonderful gentleman explained to me the details of his meticulously restoring the radio. He explained to me a little more about the radio. Usually he repairs radios and resells them, but this time my radio would have a treasured place in his home.

It may seem odd, but that little sentiment brought tears to my eyes. I had been questioning my sale, but now I knew the radio had a home and its legacy would live on. I know it is quirky to be so sentimental about an old radio — but I was.

I always felt bad that some of the things that my grandparents had treasured would not be kept in the family and treasured. I had been worried had I kept the radio that it would be tossed into the trash after I had kicked the bucket, and now I knew I had done the right thing.

Mr. Montana Radio Man will send me pictures and my memories can live on with the pictures. I can move forward paring down for my less cluttered life.

Sometimes eBay reaches across distance and time and brings new friends and finds old friends. Old coins brought me back to an old friend. Again this was a paring down. I had a couple of old coins. and I posted them on eBay. I sent the invoice and I received an e-mail back. It said “Hi Julie, Remember me? You and I are old school friends from first grade all the way through high school.”

Who would have thought in the huge eBay world I would unknowingly sell an item to an old friend? He didn’t know who was doing the selling and I didn’t know who was doing the buying. We were both surprised. What fun we had talking about old times.

Another customer took note of the fact that I lived in Minnesota, and he had recently visited our fine state. He made the comment that he noticed most motorcyclists did not wear helmets in Minnesota. He told me that was bad for them, but good for him as he was on the list for a heart transplant and hearts were hard to find. He was running out of time. This man hoped those cyclists knew how precious life was, but he also knew since they were not wearing helmets that perhaps because of an accident they would help someone else live.

I thought it was a strange e-mail but then this was from a man hoping for a chance at life and in reality his only chance for life was someone’s death.

Memories are wonderful if they let us visit the past but don’t keep us stuck there. Memories are wonderful if they let us visit them for a while and then let us move on to a new dream and our future. Cherish your memories, make new friends along the way, and dream your dream.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net .Her blog is paringdown.wordpress.com. Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”