Our family has a long tradition of using things up, recycling and re-purposing. In 1916 my dad helped his older brother build a mail order house. That was the story anyway.
By 1935 he had moved to Knightsen and dragged two shacks together with a horse drawn sledge and proceeded to make a house. All the building materials for the future sheds, pig pens, chicken coops and rental cottages were obtained by collecting material from houses that were being torn down.
My job, at 10 years old, was to remove the nails from the used lumber and straighten them for re use.
The whole back yard was filled with piles of lumber and served as obstacle courses and climbing piles. No other play equipment needed.
The house still stands, with little change to the floor plan.
My older brother carried on the tradition when he built his house and started collecting. Used mahogany doors, metal desks, an old defunct almond huller, and scores of empty cardboard boxes that piled up in his garage. He would lose tools in there, and have to go buy new ones. When I cleaned and sorted the stuff, I found multiple pairs of pliers, hammers, screw drivers, bungee cords, auto and motorcycle parts, but did suceed in burning the empty boxes. All the household appliances that were broken ended up out there in the pile too.
When he died the place needed an industrial sized dumpster to carry it off to landfill.
One neighbor did him one better, as he collected acres of old washing machines, saying that they would be “valuable” later on. When his son inherited it cost a pretty penny to have all those washing machine carcasses hauled away.
My brother’s widow then extended the collection process by allowing various “gentlemen friends” to pile up more junk around the house. This included old camper shells, old toilets, styrofoam batts for insulating around mobile homes, fencing, long flourescent lightbulbs, used ceramic tiles, pvc piping that deteriated in the sun, and a huge roll of artificial grass.
Some friends later removed some of the lumber that was usable, but it will still take two industrial dumpsters to finish tidying up.
Hoarding is a mental illness, but I think it is also like a communicable disease and can run in families.
My reaction is to throw a lot away and buy nothing I can’t use right away, so my kids will not be left to “clean”.