i think we often add words, or make them up just to gain some attention, notoriety, or marketing edge. The English language is morphing enough as it is. New words are often needed, but from this old man’s angle, it seems to have gotten out of hand. And then there are those clowns, no doubt abetted or encouraged by lawyers who will profit from their side bets, who copyright words, like Pat Riley copyrighting “Threepeat.” Ugh!

The worst, as far as i am concerned, is the term “warfighting,” or “warfighters” An admiral, i think the Chief of Naval Operations, or more likely his publicist, created those words. Wishing to polish the admiral’s boots, it was immediately picked by his juniors to show the guy who would be responsible for promoting that junior or how brilliant the junior thought the flag officer was.

i think he just couldn’t remember better words, like “war,” battle, etc., and “warrior.” Give me a break.

“Repurpose,” although relatively new, is a word that can be used in a good way, but can also be used when there is a better way. i should know. i have repurposed a lot and often done things that should never be called “repurposed.”

For example, the chair in this photo was built sometime around when i was a mariner in Julius Caesar’s navy, i think. It was the high chair for me, Martha, and then Joe. Even when the new, space rocket chairs were finding favor in the children’s furniture world, my former wife Kathie and i acquired it for Blythe (1972). Kathie painted it, and we used it until Blythe grew out of that sort of thing.

Somehow, and i absolutely cannot figure out how, i kept it.

i thought it might be Sam’s chair eventually, but it wasn’t allowed on air travel baggage without paying what would have cost me the purchase of the airlines. So Sam used a space rocket chair. Then, i brilliantly thought i could “repurpose” it, refinish it to it’s original state. Then we could use it to hold flower parts, and i could pass it on to Blythe for that “repurpose.” However, Maureen was not impressed with my idea of it being a conversation piece, and Blythe and Jason did not have room for such a thing, not to mention the difficulty in getting it to Austin. And oh yes, one of the wood pieces for the tray arms to attach to the chair was lost and the plywood tray bottom is essentially gone.

Tomorrow, it shall go away to trash heaven.

“Repurposing” did not pan out. In fact, some folks might call it hoarding.

Here is a good use of “repurposing.”

In the Navy, when an officer changed duty station — i’m not sure this remains extant — he or she was given a cruise box.

When i was commissioned out of OCS, i received the standard “cruise box,” 16″ deep x 19″ X 31.” It was unpainted 3/8″plywood back in 1968.

That first cruise box stayed at my parent’s home for my year carrying Republic of Korea troops to Vietnam and back to Pusan. Kathie Lynch and i married in May 1971. We moved into a two bedroom apartment in Watertown, New York that May. The apartment was the second floor of a widow’s home. She lived downstairs. i think our “living room” had been a bedroom with an alcove to be used as a sitting room.

We made the alcove into a very simplistic entertainment center and workroom. i had brought my stereo system i had bought at the Navy Exchange in Sasebo, where it was a good deal. Of course, i had spent enough money to pay for constructing another Eiffel Tower. i had a Dual 1019 turntable, a high-end Sansui stereo amplifier, Teac reel-to-reel recorder and a sister reel-to-reel player, four Sansui speakers, two of them large enough and nice enough to be used as table tops — they, although not repurposed exactly, were two of my furniture pieces through that marriage, seven-years of freedom, and through my marriage with Maureen until the mid-90’s when she decided they didn’t go with the interior design she was creating for our home (they didn’t go with that design, i admit, but they did go).

But back with Kathie in Watertown, New York with a very small income, no previous financial planning on my part, spending all of my money from the Vietnam tour and buying every expensive boy-toy possible in that Navy Exchange rather than putting some away or buying the absolutely essential furniture for newly weds, there was no budget and no money for stereo furniture.

Voila! Cruise box repurposing. i painted it black, found a U.S. Flag with an eagle decal to placed on the top. The i turned the box on its end, and installed some shelf hangers for housing about half of my LP collection inside. i removed the side handle and placed my turntable on that top. As had been the rage back then for folks with no money in the real world of being on their own, i found some old plywood panels and Breeko blocks, placed the panels on the blocks for holding the amplifier, the reel-to-reel tape players on these new stereo shelves (another example of repurposing, i suppose). i stored the remaining albums, the reel-to-reel tapes, and my precious 45 RPM collection on and under those shelves. Speaker wires were run into the living room for the big speakers to flank the best Sony TV i had also purchased at that paycheck-sucking Navy Exchange. i ran speaker wires to our adjoining bedroom so we could have romantic music to lull us to sleep. At least, that was the plan.

This was height of repurposing, man, even if the word had not surfaced in those innocent times.

That old plywood box continued to house records, LP’s and tapes until Maureen and i married (i’m not saying she demanded i dump it; i’m just saying it didn’t fit in with her idea of decor). Then it became a storage bin for stuff in the garage attic. It has remained there for over thirty years.

And then, i couldn’t find something to help me better organize my office closet, which houses all sorts of stuff for my writing. But as i was reorganizing (again) my garage attic, i came across the old cruise box cum stereo cabinet cum storage box. Aha, i said, put in a couple of shelves, and had the best answer for my closet organizer.

That old plywood box is my repurposed memories of some great times in my life.

When i left my last at-sea job on Yosemite, cruise boxes had come a long way, especially if your ship is a destroyer tender with the best carpenter shop in the fleet. My cruise box became a linen cabinet and a coffee table until Maureen redecorated for…oh, about the 430th time. As with nearly all things mine, that beautiful cruise box was relegated to MY garage attic, where all things Jim are destined.

It occurred to me while contemplating all of this “repurposing,” even though i don’t like the word and would prefer “used for something else” or something like that, that i, moi, have spent my life being repurposed. Now, i only hope Maureen doesn’t repupose me to the garage attic.

3 thoughts on “Repurposing

  1. As if, from the beginning of this treatise, laughing at practically every half inch of print wasn’t enough, the last 4 INCHES, I was in stitches 😂😂‼️
    As usual, you’ve reached down in to the very depths of my storage of laughter and released the whole damn lot.
    Bless you 💖 dear Jim

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