Commentary

Snow: The market for a nobody’s nostalgia

February 16, 2013 

I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!

They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!

The Emily Dickinson ditty came to mind when I read recently that former N.C. State basketball superstar David Thompson has sold $164,000 worth of memorabilia he had collected over the years.

Thompson told reporter Scott Fowler that he wasn’t particularly nostalgic and that much of the memorabilia was just gathering dust.

His 1974 national championship ring brought $44,427. The game net went for $17, 365. Even the jersey he wore while playing for Crest, N.C., high school brought $10,038.

There’s a lucrative market in being somebody, particularly a sports “somebody.” Babe Ruth’s 1922 team sweater went for $250,642.

I’m amazed at the market value of celebrity possessions, past and present. At the doctor’s office, I read in People magazine that Michael Jackson’s jacket brought $1.8 million at public auction. The dress Marilyn Monroe wore in “Seven Year Itch” brought $5.5 million. One of Audrey Hepburn’s “My Fair Lady” frocks sold for more than $4 million. Too bad that most of us “nobodies” have nothing of value to auction off at Sotheby’s.

Nevertheless, I’m reluctant to put out for charity certain items that have no value to anyone except me.

There is my old Raleigh Times T-shirt with the slogan “Everything Else Is Yesterday’s News,” a not-so-subtle dig at the Times’ big sister morning paper across the hall.

The “I Survived Hurricane Fran” T-shirt commemorating the great hurricane that stopped Raleigh in its tracks for almost a week back in 1996 isn’t worth a farthing to anyone else.

Nor have I had an offer for my Mayberry baseball cap from Floyd’s Barber Shop in Mount Airy: “Two Chairs; No Waiting.”

There’s certainly no demand for an outgrown World War II Air Force uniform that’s been gathering dust in a downstairs closet.

I find its only value lies in the memories of when a young man stepped out of the protective circle of the mountains and discovered there was life beyond Winston-Salem.

The uniform’s seams are rich with recollections of a youth’s interlude with war. My grandchildren have shown little interest in my unheroic service to my country. One did once ask, “Snowdaddy, did you kill anybody in the war?”

When I replied in the negative, it was obvious that her momentary interest in my wartime heroics had peaked and passed.

I wish now that someone had saved the long-handled underwear I wore in my starring role in the first-grade production of “Peter Rabbit,” staged in front of the entire school.

My cousin Cecile still bemoans the fact that in the same play, she was cast as a lowly cabbage in Mr. McGregor’s garden and had to squat during the entire play.

I still have my fifth-grade report card, salvaged by a relative when the school was torn down.

There are the low marks I received in “Art,” because I consistently colored robin redbreast’s chest brown rather than red.

Back then, colors were not identified on the crayons, and neither student nor teacher knew about color blindness.

So dear readers, let’s not fret over being “nobodies,” with no monetary market for our nostalgia.

In our hearts, we know that we’re all “somebodies” to ourselves and to those who love us. And some of our dusty duds in attic or basement are priceless – at least to us.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service