It’s the Pitts 12-13-10
As I’ve mentioned before, I like to read obituaries. I figure if someone has gone to all the trouble of living their life, the least I can do is spend a few moments reading about it. Recently I was reading the obituaries in one of the great periodicals that runs my column, the Fence Post, about Clarence Nichols Jr. who lived to the grand old age of 91 years. Clarence led an exemplary life and sounded like the kind of guy I’d have liked to have known, but what really sparked my interest was that he lived for all but five of his 91 years in the same house! (It seems fitting that he also died there.)
Now that, my frequently-moving-friends, is stayin’ put in one place.
Author Wallace Stegner called people like Clarence “Stickers” and in nature they are as rare as atheists are on death row. There aren’t many living organisms like the sea squirt, who swims around for a day looking for a place to live, and when the squirt finds a suitable home with an ocean view, it never moves again. Can you imagine, the sea squirt never knows the joy of packing boxes, renting Ryders and U-Hauls, or getting yelled at by Mrs. Sea Squirt because it broke one measly piece of her grandmother’s China. Sea squirts never have to notify all the magazines of their change of address, get new checks from the bank or order new business cards.
You’d be surprised at how many folks I’ve met in my travels who stayed put just as Clarence did. I have fond memories of having breakfast a few times at Sharkeys with Fred Dressler of Gardnerville, Nev. Believe it or not, Fred lived in the same house his entire life and slept in the same room where he was born.
I’m not sure why but Stickers seem to achieve great things in their lives. Certainly Clarence did, and so did Fred Dressler, who was president of the national cattlemen’s organization and an early leader in the formation of the Cowboy Hall of Fame. I think the reason Stickers are usually important people is that they are always trying to make the place where they live better because that’s where they plan on spending the rest of their lives. They have a sense of community and aren’t the kind of people to foul their nest and move on. Other people in the community trust and respect them and elect them to be their mayor, councilman or supervisor. Folks bank with them because they know that Stickers won’t give up their little slice of heaven to relocate to Mexico with their money. Stickers don’t have any desire to move to Mexico, or anywhere else, and you can’t uproot them with a D-9 Cat and a log chain.
Being a Sticker has many advantages. I’d imagine when you live in the same house for 90 years, you know where all the lights switches are and you can find your way to the bathroom in the dark. You know just where to dig to drain the septic tank because you probably helped dig it. Having said all that, there are a few downsides. Can you imagine having a Sticker as a husband and as a surprise one day while he’s gone you change the wallpaper that’s been on the walls all his life? He’d have a coronary!
If you rearranged the dishes in the cupboard or the furniture in the living room from the way his mother had them he’d probably file for a divorce. And chances are good he’d fight pretty hard to keep the house.
Then there’s the problem with what I call “accumulation” and my wife calls “junk.” Having cleaned out the homes of relatives who were Stickers, I’d advise that if you ever have to do the same thing, you should figure that for every generation that lived in the house you’ll have to take at least 10 gooseneck loads of “accumulation” to the dump.
In this day and age of plastic surgery, transplants and artificial joints, people don’t even live in the same bodies they were born in, let alone the same house. So it’s somehow comforting to know there are Stickers who live amongst us.