Thursday, August 7, 2008

Skeleton in the cupboard

Bruce helps George cope with the family papers.
Bruce: You have a basic taxonomy.

George: Sure do. Box 1. Personal. Box 2. Projects.

Bruce: So where do you file obituaries?

George: Box 1. Biographical information.

Bruce: Okay. So how about these transcripts of taped conversations between Aunt Flo and Aunt Jo about the great grandparents?

George: Easy. Box 1. Biographical information. Subsection: Recollections.

Bruce: And these pictures of… seems like two rugby teams?

George: Don’t recognize either of them. Throw 'em out.

Bruce: How about you make another category? Pre-trash? Throw them out later.

George: All the papers are pre… what you say? Pre-trash. Somebody will throw them out eventually. Oh, hang on, here’s some letters. Uh-oh. Highly sensitive. Burn 'em.

Bruce: 1940? These people all died years ago.

George: Dangerous stuff.

Bruce: How about we put them in a sealed envelope, restrict access to cleared people.

Ha! Classified documents. Like the CIA, huh? A secure archive. Sounds better.


Daunting task, tidying old papers at the end of life.

Some categories become overstuffed, others undernourished.

Sometimes boxes contain letters which might best be burned. It may be obstructing historical research but cautious George is aware of the fact that there are no controls after we’ve gone.


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