Why keep all those diaries?

Why do I keep notes and addresses from diaries done nearly twenty years ago? Why do I keep things that have no use or relevance today? The recent National Hoarding & Squalor Conference in Sydney and ABC radio’s Life Matters program, Hoarding Talkback,  raised quite a few issues for both those who are extreme hoarders where the behaviour can become a safety or community concern and just your average Joe Blow collector.

My diaries along with other things, don’t fall into these extreme categories – keepings things rather than collecting or hoarding is how I like to think about it.  No, really I love throwing things out as I can’t stand STUFF and visual clutter – it clouds the mind and bamboozles the senses.

Here, for example, are the directions to a monastery that a friend made in a Filofax diary in 1993/94 when I was living in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. which I did visit with the person who wrote them. It’s a very peaceful place with the monks living in silence a lot of the time and where the Live Oaks form an enclosing shroud over the monastery.

“I-26 to Hwy 52 exit (only one) Goose Creek/Monks Corner (10 miles after exit, or so). Go thru town to Hwy 402. Follow & stay RIGHT. About 2 miles you will cross flat bridge tale a right, follow to Trappist Monestry, called Mepkin Abbey. Try to arrive early 11:00, noon or so. After go back to Hwy 52. Go right to St. Stephen (veer left). Stop in town on a weekday go to St. Stephen Drug Store on main street to buy…Rattlesnake’s Joes (books and ask directions to his house, or ask his wife’s first name – Carrie something – then go find her and buy books if the drug store does not have them”.

As I recall,  my friend mentioned that the monastery was set up by the wife and/or founder of “Newsweek” or “Time” magazine? Henry R. Luce, the co-founder of “Time” (with Briton Hadden) and Clare Boothe Luce bought the Mepkin Plantation in 1949 and donated a large part of the plantation to the Roman Catholic Church to be used by the Trappist Order’s Gethsemani Abbey.

There’s another story that goes with these notes that I’ve carried round for all that time and often tell it as it tells a not so peaceful story about South Carolina. It goes that my friend’s father never moved out of a 30-mile radius of where he was born and that he belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. She also had a nanny growing up and we went to visit her on the way to Mepkin Monastery. She lived in a wooden house – I wouldn’t call it weather-it board as it was very basic– and I think even had earthen floors. It was like opening the curtain on another world that  I’m reminded of whenever I come across these directions.


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