I think it’s safe to say that I’m a pretty nostalgic person. I have always had a propensity for keeping little memento things that most people would throw out. It’s not a hoarder mentality like most would reason, it’s simply an innate reflex or desire to keep and preserve trinkets or pieces of memorabilia from events I’ve experienced. I guess you could say, I’m a professional collector of memories. Maybe it’s a 1996 Olympic Swatch Watch, for example, or an old Olympic uniform (I was a volunteer for the Atlanta games), old license plates off past cars that I’ve driven, select Sports Illustrated magazines and of course vintage baseball cards (I stopped collecting in 1990).
But, it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I began to be completely aware of these little sentimental pieces I was hanging onto.
There are the sixteen beer coasters from my trip to Europe in 1995. Upon returning to the states, I handed them over to my mom and asked her to frame them for me. Mom must’ve appreciated my interest for little tokens of remembrance because she had them framed and delivered to me in a few weeks. And yes, despite twenty-four years of wear and tear, slight water damage to the frame and a few cracked corners, it’s still a nice piece and hangs in my basement to this day.
It would only make sense that during my time in college at the University of Georgia in the mid to late 90s, I would begin keeping ticket stubs to sporting events and Georgia football games that I attended. Year after year, I dutifully tossed them in an old box. The box changed every now and then, but the contents kept building. I’m not sure how I managed to retain a couple decades worth of loose paper tickets, but somehow I did.
Think about all of the things that get pushed aside, broken or simply forgotten as years pass. Between the years of 1997 to 2017, I moved eight times. That includes a few moves before graduating from UGA, then to and around the Atlanta area, back to Athens and in 2017 a few miles outside of Athens. In that twenty years I became engaged, married my college sweetheart, and we had three kids. We moved to our current home two summers ago and guess what I still had with me – the box simply labeled, “Old Ticket Stubs”.
Truth be told, there was never any plan for those used tickets. All I knew in the back of my mind was that I would keep tossing ’em in there after games. Recently I’ve thought it would be cool to make a wall collage, but I didn’t want to make it so permanent. What happens after another twenty years? Do I make another wall collage? How much glue do you need? What if I want to change it later? Glue is so permanent. So, the ticket stubs happily stayed in the box.
Two weeks ago, I went to Atlanta to help my sister move. Most everything had already been delivered to her new place and I was there for a few leftover pieces of furniture. She told me that I could take whatever was left back to Athens if I wanted it. In her basement, propped up on its side was a black circular table which I had used in one of my college apartments. It’s a lovely, heavy old table and was in need of a little bit of cleaning but otherwise was in great condition. To the side of it laid a glass cover which fits perfectly on top and to my delight, the glass was completely unbroken and uncracked.
It all came back to me like a rush of memories. I remembered why that table had a separate glass covering. Knowing and appreciating my love for keeping photos and little paper memories, while I was at Georgia, my mom had the glass made for me so I could slide pictures and things underneath and enjoy reminiscing while sitting at it. I had truly forgotten about its origin and sadly had not even missed it for all of these years. But it was now back in my possession!
I carefully brought it back to my home and propped it up next to my office door still wrapped up in moving blankets. The table remained there for about five days. I was in no hurry because my grand idea hadn’t struck yet. Then on Memorial Day I was cleaning up my office closet where I store all of my camera gear and under one of my microphones was the box!
The next two hours were spent polishing the old table, touching up a few spots with fresh black paint and rearranging some furniture in my office so it would fit. Then came the fun part. With help from my oldest son, we spent time sorting through the ticket stubs. The duplicates were set in one pile, older tickets in another, and non-Georgia football items such as a 1997 Masters badge were placed on the window sill.
The arrangement of the tickets on the table went from the center outward. As it came together, my son and I had some fun conversations on what my favorite game was, which ticket stub looked the coolest and we even realized that over the past decade he’d been to most of the games with me. My wife even stuck her head in as we were almost done and was pretty impressed (it should be noted that she and I often completely differ in our decorating opinions so that made me quite happy).
The whole endeavour took about an hour to carefully sort the tickets and lay the glass on top. It looked amazing. But I think the best part was spending that time with my son. We didn’t take pictures of each other while working (like I would normally do) and even though I thought about setting up a camera to record it for a cool time lapse, I decided against that too. It was some quality dad and son time I suppose.
I feel like my lifelong habit of keeping seemingly insignificant items of remembrance had finally paid off. I also realize that the proliferation of electronic and print-at-home tickets will surely slow the pace of collecting more. So I’m even more appreciative of my younger self throughout my college and early adult years for being so thoughtful to the current me. And, thanks mom for indulging my collection of trinkets.
“Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.” ― Oscar Wilde
Scott Duvall is an Athens, Georgia based videographer, photographer and podcaster. Hear Scott’s Georgia Bulldogs football podcast titled, “Waitin’ Since Last Saturday” on Apple Podcasts.