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Fishman: The deceptions of detritus
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Earlier this week, watching someone build a coveted storage unit for me in my backyard, I stand salivating at the idea of getting more space because that means I can free up some new space inside my house, then reorganize the old space. Oh, joy.

But first, I did as promised. I edited. I threw away several years of New Yorker magazines, a couple of very dry, very flammable bouquets of eucalyptus, a dozen glass jars, three large and empty boxes I didn’t seem to be using.

I organized my stash of batteries. I stacked my collection of assorted squares of tile.

Somehow, because hope springs eternal in the human heart, I always think I’ll get the proper proportion between stuff and storage.

Then, right on schedule, because the God of Organization is capricious and arbitrary and can always be counted on to foul things up or at least to laugh at our plans, I got an invitation from the Diva of Detritus (accent on the second syllable, long “i”), aka Robin Gunn, to come and paw through the Porzio property on 37th and Montgomery streets before she, sister to the Atlanta developer and builder, Rett Gunn, who bought the corner, calls in the professionals to ready the place for redevelopment -- something people in the city and the neighborhood have been awaiting a long time.

It was a junk collector’s and a social historian’s dream. Even though I’m a bone fide member of the 12-step-program-for order, I admit it: I’m weak; I’m powerless; the urge to collect or pry into someone else’s life is stronger than I am.

Just this week I picked up a balled-up piece of lined, school paper and pieced together a sarcastic note written by some disgruntled individual, probably a teenage girl , that read, in part, “Today on Valentine’s Day and numerous other days, you called me a bitch so I hope you are satisfied with your gift. Like I said, it’s not much but you do consider me as not being much because if you did I wouldn’t get called names on the regular.”

So given an invitation to poke around the abandoned, forgotten and boarded buildings on 37th Street that used to house, in part, a fairly popular Italian restaurant from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s called Porzio’s -- and for decades before and after, members of the Porzio family -- deciding to answer the call to explore was a no-brainer.

I tried to confine my pickings to small, portable items, like the starched chef’s jacket from the DeSoto and another starched apron with the words, “Savannah Scores Again” and a drawing of a lobster catching a football with ‘85 on the shirt, followed by a box of Kroma White chalk from the American Crayon Company.

Not because I use chalk but because it’s a Made-in-the-U.S.A. product (from Sandusky, Ohio) and because of the design on the back: a drawing of a geothermal spewing geyser called Old Faithful with the added line, “An Old Faithful Product.”

There was a statement of profit and loss from Porzio’s for September, 1971, typed on onionskin paper in that nostalgic typewriter font (a $4,397.69 profit), and a handwritten letter dated Feb. 16, 1982 from some Cilentino relatives in Spring Lake Heights, N.J. in elegant old-fashioned penmanship.

From the Brainard Press in Brainard, Minnesota, I found dated graphics for menu items, including chicken in a basket, the new foot-long dawg and fish ‘n fries. From the 1969 Mercer Insurance Agency desk diary I read about The Hartford insurance company, which extends, “Through seven wars, seven financial panics and every conflagration this continent has known...”

In the 1977 menu guide to area restaurants for Savannah and Hilton Head ($1.25 per copy), I saw menus from Johnny Harris’ (coats required Friday and Saturday nights), The Exchange (roast beef sandwich conservatively raw or liberally done, $2), the” one and only” Bill Hilliard’s (broiled shrimp, oysters or fish, $3.50) and the Pirates’ House (black bottom pie “like your mother wishes she could make,” $1.45).

In the room with a a box of old Playboy magazines and racy paperback novels, there was a wall of printed match covers including one from the erstwhile Joe Price luggage company and JDP IV’s Bar and Message (massage?) Parlor, Females Only.

My best finds might be a black Lazy boy chair (if I can remove the mildew smell) and a small desk top fan (if I can find someone to restore it to working order) called the Vornado from The O.A. Sutton Corp., in Wichita, Kansas.

For four hours we yanked, pried, handled, examined and hauled things nasty and old, extraneous and unnecessary, yet the only item I saw the Diva of Detritus put in her car was a glitter wand still in the original packaging. She alone could resist.

But that’s OK. I have a new storage shed for all my new treasures.