Boyce Thompson admits that his house is a mess. Closets, drawers, and bookcases are overflowing with paraphernalia left over from his days as a business press editor. But he refuses to part with any of it, even things of little to no sentimental value.
“It’s all I have left from the good old days,” says the former editor of Builder, ProSales, Multifamily Executive, and several other extinct or near-extinct magazine titles. “Important people sent me these things to. They have strong sentimental value.”
Thompson still wears the pull-over rain fleece emblazoned with a Solomon Brothers logo sent to him more than 40 years ago by Ivy Zelman (nee Schneider), even though it has never fit. Its white fleece interior having turned beige, it looks like it’s never been washed. “It’s a little hard for me to date, but the company changed its name to Solomon in 1980. When I wear it out, I occasionally get these weird, knowing glances, typically from old-timers.”
Other items, such as the jacket above, provide important psychological connections to by-gone eras — like the dot-bomb age. Thompson vaguely recalls being summoned to Aspen or Vail in the early 2000s to serve on the advisory board of this real-estate listing play. The jacket, which he recently wore to a community association meeting, may be the only thing left from the disintermediation. “It wasn’t around very long. It was rolled up into something else. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became part of Realtor.com.”
Another of the pensioner’s favorite “pieces” is a “Modem to Load ’em” mug he received in the early 1990s from Truitt and White Lumber, the Berkley, Calif. powerhouse. The mug dates from a time when contractors and lumberyards were first going online. Contractors could fire up their computer in the morning, fill up the cup with joe, place and order, and pick it up in an hour on their way to the jobsite.
“You can tell it was made early in the ‘Internet Revolution’ because there’s no URL or e-mail address on it,” says Thompson, who tries to use the mug at least once a week, just so his wife doesn’t throw it away. “I guess the customer was on his own to search the web and locate the service.”
Another bone of contention between Thompson and his wife, herself a former business editor — “all those boxes of old magazines drawing dust in the basement.” The editor used to keep a stash in case he needed to take them on job interviews. Those days are long since past.
“They are important collector’s items,” he maintains. “Most of them were published before the Internet archives were established. They may be worth a lot. I saw the premier issue of Hanley Wood’s Digital Home selling for $30 on E-Bay the other day.”
But other junk Thompson refuses to toss is unquestionably of little to no value. His inability to part with it raises questions about his mental well-being. For instance, he still hangs on to a contractor’s helmet he was given by Pardee Homes to tour The Ultimate Family Home and a celebratory shovel given to him by Christopher Homes to commemorate breaking ground on the Destinations Home.
“You never know when these might come in handy,” he maintains, though he hasn’t been on a jobsite in more than a decade and can’t find a place in the garage to properly hang the shovel. It has rusted a little as a result.
He makes regular use of the many fleeces (Multifamily Executive), rain jackets (Builder 100), and t-shirts (Builder Concept Homes) that he’s collected. “They are perfectly good. There’s no reason to part with them. I take the rain jacket with me when I play golf, just in case. I wear the show home shirts to play baseball. Their long sleeves makes them great to wear under another t-shirt.”