Drawbridge Memorabilia

Some people collect baseball cards. I collect drawbridge stuff.

Given the number of people who have expressed shock that there’s “actually someone up there operating the drawbridge” when I tell them I’m a bridgetender, it doesn’t surprise me that there isn’t lots of drawbridge memorabilia floating around. I mean, why memorialize something that you don’t think about?

Well, unless you mean London Bridge. It seems to be the rock star of drawbridges. Tourists adore that bridge. It even has its own song. I hope the bridges I work on aren’t too jealous.

But I have managed to accumulate a little bit of drawbridge memorabilia over the almost 20 years of my career. What follows are pictures of my collection, in no particular order, and some descriptions thereof. Hope you like them!

This painting is by my friend Doug, and I still need him to sign it! We met him through the UU Church, and upon hearing what I do for a living he mentioned he had done a painting of Fremont Bridge here in Seattle, and just like that, he was kind enough to give it to me.
One day I saw Arvia taking notes on the sidewalk as she looked up at my bridge tower. Finally, I spoke to her out the window and learned she was doing a painting. Then, coincidentally we met at a party of a mutual friend and I made arrangements to buy it from her. That’s University Bridge, where I work most often. Those are the windows I often gaze out of while blogging. She also did a gorgeous painting of a side view of that same bridge, but I couldn’t afford it at the time, and it has since sold.
This is a graphic that I asked my friend Vicky to make for my first book. I plan to use it in any future books I get around to as well! Sometimes when I look at it I see a drawbridge, and other times I see two turtle kissing. I like it even more because of that.

Recently my dear friend Carole, whom I met through this blog, mailed me this gorgeous tankard that is etched with the London Bridge. It has a place of honor in the curio cabinet in my kitchen. I’ve made so many friends because of this blog, and Carole is one of the very best.
I saw this wooden drawbridge kit, complete with a book of great American bridges, online, and just had to have it. As you can see from the dust on the box, I haven’t gotten around to building it yet, mainly because I have no idea where I’ll put it when I do. I was hoping that maybe the publisher of the book might consider publishing a book of bridge stories from my blog, but I haven’t gotten around to contacting them yet.

Given the number of people who are foolish enough to crawl under the traffic gates when I’m opening my drawbridge, I suggested that we make a safety brochure with a keepsake drawbridge picture, and leave them outside the tower doors. I was asked to write the content, and so I did. They chopped 75 percent of my suggestions out, and then came up with this brochure, and printed about a thousand copies. Then someone decided that it was too controversial for some bizarre reason, so they are gathering dust in a closet somewhere. Aren’t bureaucracies the best?

This poster was made to commemorate the fact that many of Seattle’s bridges were retrofitted to (supposedly) withstand earthquakes. I managed to snag one of the posters before they were all given out. I love the art of Fremont Bridge on top. One of these days I’ll frame this.
In the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle is a delightful restaurant called Highliner Public House. They’re not very far from the Ballard Bridge where I occasionally work. They use this artwork as their logo, sort of, and they used to give one of these postcards to every customer. I don’t think they do that anymore, but they’ve been known to run up to the office and get one if a customer asks for one. Worth a try.
Every year there’s a fundraising marathon in Seattle called Beat the Bridge. I have mixed emotions about this event, because I don’t like the idea of people thinking it’s fun to try to cross a bridge that’s about to open. I’ve blogged about this before. But on this particular year, since I was the bridgetender who was tasked with opening the drawbridge at the designated time, I was given this T-shirt. That was nice of them. I gave it to my husband, because he looks better in yellow than I do. (Truth be known, he looks pretty darned good in everything. Lucky me.)
I went to a festival in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle with my friend Paula a few years ago. One of the vendors was selling this t-shirt, which is of the Fremont Bridge. Naturally I had to get it. If you look closely, there’s a tiny bicyclist jumping the opening bridge. DO NOT ATTEMPT. (Sorry for the wrinkles. I didn’t feel like ironing a t-shirt just for this blog post.)
And then, of course, there’s my first book. I love how the cover came out. There are too many people to thank for that book’s existence to list them all here. Feel free to get a copy and read the acknowledgements!

Is that everything? I feel like I’m forgetting something. (Sorry if it was something you gave me.)

Also, somewhere amongst all of my clutter I have various chunks of various bridges that I’ve come across over time, but I couldn’t find any of them for this post.

There you have it. Some people collect baseball cards or antique bottles. I collect drawbridge stuff. That works out well, because due to its scarcity it doesn’t take too much space.


Collecting Stuff

You may rue the day you started collecting those beer steins.

I have this theory about collections.

They always seem like a great idea at the outset. They are fun and unique and a form of self-expression. And they’re a bit of immortality, too, because if you collect owls, then everyone who knows you will instantly think of you whenever they see anything that’s owl-related.

But over time, collections often take on a life of their own. They take up space. They cost a fortune. You sort of become a slave to your collection. Even if you want to stop accumulating postcards of chimpanzees, for example, people will start sending them to you. That thing you’ve chosen to chain yourself to will be all that you get for Christmas from now until the end of time.

Before you know it, you’re outnumbered. And if you move with any frequency at all, you’ll probably rue the day you started collecting those beer steins. It’s just one more damned crate to pack. Stuff.

I used to collect t-shirts from my travels, but it soon got out of hand. I have more t-shirts than I’ll ever wear. No one will want them when I’m gone. It’s senseless. So I switched over to something cheaper and smaller—refrigerator magnets. They do take up less space. But I may never see the surface of my fridge again.

So if you’re thinking of starting a collection, my advice would be “Run! Run away!” But if you can’t resist, at least choose wisely. Not only will it define you, but it will impoverish you, and bury you under a mountain of… well, let’s just say I hope you pick something light.


If, on the other hand, you collect books, I hope you’ll add this one to your collection! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5




The Worst Urban Legend – Soda Can Tabs

I saw it again the other day, and it made me so sad. A group was collecting soda can tabs because they honestly and genuinely and truly believed that this would help someone. I don’t know if they thought it would get someone time on a kidney dialysis machine, or defray the cost of chemotherapy or provide some desperately needed medical prosthetic, but the fact is they are suffering from a delusion.

The soda can tab myth is one of the most heartbreakingly persistent urban legends out there. It preys on people’s natural instinct to want to help those in need, and it causes a great deal of effort for very little return. People are under the illusion that the aluminum in can tabs is somehow “more pure” than that of the rest of the can. Not. It’s also an alloy. And since no organization, repeat, NO ORGANIZATION will give you more than the normal recycle value for your aluminum, you’d be much better off collecting the entire can rather than just the tab. Because as this article in Snopes.com will tell you, 100 pull tabs will get you approximately 3 ½ cents. It would be even better to get people do donate a penny instead of a pull tab. That way you’d at least get a dollar.

The reason these types of collections make me so despondent is that people want to believe in them so desperately that when you try to disabuse them of this misinformation, they usually refuse to hear you. They get very emotional about it. They continue their collection, using up time and effort, and then only realize the truth when it’s too late. All that energy and good intention could have been directed elsewhere, and all they are left with is a great deal of embarrassment.

If you are hellbent on continuing with your soda can tab campaign, there’s not much I can do to stop you. So I simply ask that before you go through all the hassle, you get a confirmation, in writing, directly from the source of your expected windfall. And, uh… good luck with that.


Like this blog? Then you’ll LOVE this book! http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu

What Are You Leaving Behind?

Somewhere in America, God only knows where, there are about 50 boxes of books that belong to me. They were left to me in my sister’s will. I’m sure she meant well. She knew how I love to read. But the last thing I need is her hoard of books. If anything, as much as possible I’m trying to get rid of the books I already have. And how did she expect me to get these books across the country? Uhaul? Books weigh a ton.

Please understand that these are not leather bound, signed first editions. No. They’re yellowing, dog-eared and much loved paperback versions of best sellers. I doubt a used book store would give me more than 50 bucks for the lot.

After the reading of her will, my brother-in-law made absolutely no effort to comply with her wishes, and on one level that annoyed me, but on another it was a huge relief. I didn’t want to deal with those books, and I’m sure he didn’t, either. Later he remarried and sold the house. There’s talk of a storage facility somewhere, but as far as I’m concerned, the less said the better.

The thing that people, and hoarders in particular, don’t seem to understand is that after they’re gone, no one is going to view their possessions as being one tenth as valuable as they do. No one wants to have to deal with your crap.

Your adult children might appreciate one or two examples of the refrigerator art they made for you in kindergarten, but they’re certainly not going to want a shoebox full. Nor will they want every Christmas card you’ve ever received in the past 60 years, or your collection of dolls from around the world.

When you pass away, it’s going to be you that they want back. It’s cruel to add to their grief by making them sift through piles of magazines, rusted tools, tangled fishing line, and your beloved beer can collection.

If you truly do think you have things that are worth something, it is much kinder to sort and sell them now and give your family the money rather than make them bicker over who is going to have to post each individual item on e-bay later.

Have an honest discussion with your heirs. It’s very likely that what you see as a legacy of treasured memories will be viewed by them as a monumental hassle and an enormous burden. Don’t make one of their last memories of you become a source of irritation.

boxes of book

[Image credit: heartsandmindsbooks.com]

The Futility of Accumulation

I long to have one of those minimalist homes with wide expanses of floor space and no tchotchkes to dust or arrange. No clutter. No collections. I want to be able to move all my stuff from one house to the next in just one or two carloads.

I often look around at the mess in my life and wonder when, exactly, I lost all control. When did the stuff start controlling me instead of me controlling the stuff? This has been in the forefront of my mind quite a lot lately since I’ve moved 3 times in the past 3 years. It gets old, lugging boxes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those hoarders you see on TV. My home is sanitary. I don’t pick things out of the garbage, and you won’t find dead cats wedged behind my dresser. But I definitely have more than I need to survive, by a country mile.

The irony of it is that 2/3rds of my possessions currently reside in my sister’s garage, 4 hours away, and they’ve been there for a couple of years now. If I can live without them for years, do I need them at all? But there are things there that I love and miss. Certain pieces of furniture, much used tools and items that would really come in handy should I ever be lucky enough to own a home again. These items would also be expensive to replace, but what does it cost me, figuratively, to keep them?

I’m profoundly grateful that cameras are now digital, because I have a ton of photo albums from a bygone age. I’d hate to think of what life would be like if I were to have to collect hard copies and photo negatives for the second half of my life as well. What will become of these albums when I die? They won’t mean a thing to anyone but me, most likely.

And clothing. Don’t get me started. It’s high time I accept the fact that I’ll never be a certain size again. I keep telling myself that if I haven’t worn something in a year it should go. But I never seem to get around to doing that.

Thank heavens I’ve never been the type to own exercise equipment or highly specific kitchen gadgets or, I don’t know, action figures. Things could, indeed, be a great deal worse.

But I often think that if there were a fire, as long as my dogs and I made it out alive, there would be relatively few things I would be heartbroken about losing. Stuff won’t love you. It won’t even like you. It won’t keep you warm at night (unless it’s a blanket or a pair of thermal underwear). The more stuff you accumulate, the less you will be able to travel lightly through this world. And that is something to consider before making your next purchase.


(Image credit: truewoman.com)