Thursday, May 7, 2015



The greatest loss that we will ever experience is the death of a loved one. I've experienced many such losses, and with each one a part of my own life was subtracted and subsequently will never be regained.

The losses I'm thinking about today, however, have nothing to do with death. They are monetary losses - or losses of personal possessions that have sentimental value. As an incurable sentimentalist, I can fiercely relate to this.

I've known numerous people who, for one unfortunate reason or another, have lost everything. Several of my relatives are included. My cousin Cookie (Elizabeth) in New Jersey lost all her possessions when her house burned down (happened long ago).

My cousin Nancy - who presently lives a few miles away from me here in Tennessee - was a former resident of Homestead, Florida. She lost everything in August, 1992, when Hurricane Andrew demolished the entire city.

I've never experienced such a great loss of possessions and wouldn't know how to cope with it.  Starting from scratch isn't easy. Optimistic fools will say "Well, at least you have your life. You can always replace possessions."

I would answer "No way in hell can you replace treasured possessions. Everything that enhanced and confirmed my existence is gone."

While in the process of moving from Texas to Tennessee - I suddenly realized that I don't need 85% of the things I own. The idea of downsizing and becoming a minimalist is very tempting, yet it's an impossibility for a hardcore sentimentalist. I have an incredibly hard time letting go of my treasures. The simplest things often evoke the strongest memories: a photo, a letter, a book. Shells retrieved on the beach during a walk with someone special. A dried flower pressed between pages.

Mildly interesting, Jon, but where is this blog post taking us?

It's taking you on a sentimental journey. We'll get there soon enough - just don't try to make me climax prematurely. Telling a good story takes time. Just like having good sex takes time.

No need to get nasty, Jonathan. Is your mind always in the gutter?

Yes. Always.

I've mentioned in a previous blog post that - during my move from Texas to Tennessee - the movers somehow managed to lose (misplace? steal?) some of my most cherished possessions. It seems almost beyond belief that some of these items happen to be things I loved the most. So far I've gotten no explanation or restitution (more about this later).

Among many "missing" items are antique books, a valuable oil painting, some of my piano music, and a large three-drawer tool chest containing every tool I ever owned.

The most upsetting thing is that all of my mother's (and grandmother's) piano music is gone - - and so are all of my California diaries.

My maternal grandmother had an enormous amount of piano sheet music from the 1920's and 30's. 
My mother played the piano since she was a child and had a large collection of music from the 1940's through the 1970's. Every single one of them is missing.

The most devastating thing to me is the loss of all my handwritten diaries and journals that I kept in California from when I was ten years old until I moved out of state when I was 35. A total of about thirty volumes.

In essence, these journals contained my entire California existence. They were a meticulous and extremely private account of every aspect of my life. There is no price that could compensate for the valuable wealth of information in them.

Besides all of my deepest and most personal thoughts, these journals documented everything that I ever did: my school and college years, my Hollywood years, every concert and performance that I ever gave, and every concert that I attended - - information about the rehearsals I had, the places I lived and visited, my friends, the famous people I've met. It revealed the sordid details of my love affairs (that alone is priceless).

It's bitterly ironic that I'm in the fledgling process of writing my memoir and desperately need my journals to use as a guideline and memory refresher. I now have nothing tangible to rely on but the recesses of my raw memory.

Is there a moral to this lengthy tale of woe?

If you're ever in the process of moving and have items that you cherish - don't entrust them to anyone and don't let them out of your sight. 

I made the horrendous mistake of trusting the movers. I should have taken these things in the car with me when I drove to Tennessee, but I already had three cats in large cages. There wasn't enough room.

The final kick in the ass - -

Between moving and storage costs, I paid these bastards nearly $10,000.



  1. Your sentimental losses are huge. I am not sentimental. I lost many possessions during hurricane Katrina. Most of my furniture was lost. Everything lower than two feet in the main house was lost and everything below five feet in the lower level of the house. Plus, everything in the two storage buildings on the property. Having had warning, and knowing it was going to be bad, we were able to evacuate with small valuables and papers. Of everything I lost, only the books bothered me.

    As we carried ruined things to the street for mass removal by contractors, my only thought was, "why do I own all of this stuff.". I made a conscience effort to not re-acquire so many things. I have stuck to that for ten years now, and the sense of freedom is amazing. Before I buy anything, I ask myself if it deserves space in my house. Most don't and go unpurchased.

    I have a suggestion for down-sizing. I have practiced this in my second home, which WAS equally overstocked. I would get rid of three things everyday. Big things, little things.... anything. Give it away, donate it, sell it or throw it away. That was my first job every day. After one year, you have gotten rid of more than 1000 things. It is much easier to let go of three things at a time, with the added advantage of not being a huge undertaking.

  2. Having moved many times myself, I should have warned you to take those things of most importance, with you in the car. It is the only way you could have protected them. But now that they are lost that is of little consolation to you, I know. That big empty space in your heart because of these things being missing, may well never heal. It is a bitter pill to swallow I realize. I do not know how the moving company can compensate you for these PRICELESS objects. But they damn well ought to be trying or finding out where the hell they disappeared?

  3. PS) I would sue them for being so reckless with your prized possessions.

  4. So sorry this happened to you Jon. I know it is something you can't get over. When I moved out here after the movers arrived and was working, a lady a showed up. I presumed she was the owner of the company. I walked into a room to see her trying to open my roll top desk. I said its locked. She didn't say a word and had an odd look on her face.

  5. I, too, am a huge sentimentalist, and can't begin to imagine the loss you're feeling. You may have just defined the overused and undefined concept, "pain and suffering." And, let's throw in "violated."
    Damn, but I was hoping the diaries would turn up in a random compartment.
    I don't know what to say, Jon. Just, I'm so very sorry.

  6. There is great frustration in losing a valuable aide-mémoire --and puzzlement knowing it could have little value to whomever stole it. I know. I kept 35mm slides from the '60s in a leather photography bag and had it taken from the house I parked it in during a move. But, by and by, each of those scenes reappeared in my memory. Sheet music, now that's a different matter, but the skills you derived from it can never be stolen. I don't know what gets into people to make them steal what they can neither experience or sell.

  7. That's very annoying. We've suffered similar losses in moves but nothing as personal as yours. How on earth could your memoirs be of any use to someone else? I suspect that there is an epidemic of such robbery in the moving industry.

  8. What a devastating loss. Sentimental things have much more value to me than things with monetary value, so I understand how you feel. I was reeeeeeally hoping those things would show up when you unpacked all those boxes. When we moved to Georgia from Maryland, my hubby's company paid for movers to pack up everything in our house and transport it, so I had no idea how much it would have cost us if we'd had to pay it out of pocket. But ten thousand dollars! Yowza! Our movers DID pack everything, too. Like a soda bottle they found behind the dryer... ash trays WITH ashes in them... But they did steal one thing, too. A full case of automobile paint, which my hubby had packed inside of the car... which was also loaded into the van. We couldn't complain, though, because I don't think we were legally supposed to transport it. (For some reason or another.) But you... you must be compensated for your loss. If such a thing is even possible. I'm so sorry.

  9. Jon,
    I didn't realize you lost your personal diaries. I keep a journal too. I wish I had kept one when I was much younger. I didn't start keeping a diary/journal until 1976. I stopped in 1980 when a person who I let stay in my apartment in Philadelphia (I rented an apartment until my house was built) found my journal and tore out the pages about him. I was referring to the fact that I thought he was a hustler (he was homeless and I said he could stay at my apartment temporarily). which he didn't like and wrote in my journal "I am not a hustler!" I quit keeping a journal then. However, I began keeping a journal again in April of 2007 and have made daily entries since (which I will do after this comment).
    Jon, I felt bad when you wrote about the loss of your music sheets, photos and other items but your personal journals? I just can't imagine why anyone, let alone movers, would want such a personal item. Are you sure you don't have them somewhere packed away? I still have unopened boxes from my move of 2006 (of which I am ashamed to admit).
    Jon, I also identify with you about keeping memorabilia. I wish I could be like my friend Pat who throws almost everything away. But I cannot be that person.
    Jon, and my apologies for the long, long comment, I do hope you find your diaries and some of your other items.

  10. did you ask
    the people who
    bought your house?
    you never know
    by some small chance
    something was left behind

    1. I contacted the people who bought my house and the realtors - they didn't return my calls or answer my letters.


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