It is said of various collectors that one man's treasure is another man's junk. I think they have it wrong. It should be that one man's treasure is one woman's junk.
Now, I don't want to carve a split based on gender that suggests bigotry in either direction. But the neighbors along the North Fork of the Nehalem River are likely to tell you it just seems to work that way.
Oh, I manage to take a few of the items acquired along the way and get them planted where they might occasionally be seen. Sometimes, however, they're just not there any more. Like the muzzle- loading shotgun barrel. I don't know what happened to its stock and trigger mechanism. But the barrel seemed a priceless prize anyway.
I found it among the gems Helen's father had collected in a lifetime of treasure hunting and took it with her mother's encouragement to help myself to the junk.
Jim and Claudia VonSeggern have carried the issue to new dimensions with a delightful result. Jim was marking off a piece of ground next to the house one day. It seemed an unlikely place for a garden. "I'm thinking of adding a room," he explained. Now Jim, a builder of fine boats both before and after retiring from the state fish hatchery, is a man of many skills. He could probably add a room while some of us would still be puzzling over the tape measure. But why another room, given the spacious house and all the territory taken in by the boat works?
"I just want a place to put my stuff," he declared. And Claudia confirmed.
Jim was a very active seeker of treasures and she was growing weary of having the junk clog her closets. (Each one, understand, has his or her nomenclature for the same items.) Jim has a lot of stuff all right, and now has his added room as a trophy case that any collector of treasures would envy, even covet. Much of it comes from the military, an indication perhaps of his and his father's service. But a lot of it goes back to World War I.
And it is not all war materiel of the Allies. He has a few identifiers, probably the equivalent of dog tags, for Kaiser Bill's German soldiers. He even has a rifle from the other side of the Korean War, which had a special interest for me. It may be a forgotten war to everyone else, but not to those who spent time in it.
One of the wonders of it all is a loosely bound collection of the Stars and Stripes from World War I. That's the military newspaper bringing news from home and the rest of the world to the trioops overseas. How would a person come by such a treasure? In many cases, Jim just wandered across an item. But he knew what he wanted when he saw it.
Many times he showed it paid off just to keep one eye on the ground as he walked along the river bank or old logging roads in our neighborhood. He's picked up some shells hat certainly were not used for deer hunting. So what sere they used for? The items made it to Jim's special room, but the secret of their being did not. German wooden bullets also reside in Jim's museum. So do muzzle-loading weapons of pioneer eras, including an old muzzle-loader that had been handled to a high sheen and a Civil War revolver that was an advanced step in weaponry at the time.
While the display runs heavily to military items it certainly is not limited to them. As an active sportsman, Jim has a ready supply of hunting arms and fishing gear that he has on display. He also hangs model airplains from the ceiling when they're not flying. They remind him of his years of owning his own aircraft.
And one special prize stands out from all the others. It is a picture of a 1956 football team selected for the Shrine Game, featuring the high school football star, Jim VonSeggern
Claudia is not yet ready to recognize the value of so many gems collected by her husband. It is enough that she has her closets back. But his room of stuff is an intriguing museum to many of us who have seen it. We're just trying to figure out why he doesn't hang out a sign on weekends and a box with a money slot for obvious reasons.
Many a treasure hunter would happily concede that the review is well worth the price and then go home with a message like, "Hon, you want me to clean out my stuff from the closets and put it somewhere."
And then start building the room before she replies, "I might suggest just the place to put all that junk."
Jerry Tippens is a retired journalist who writes an occasional column about south Clatsop County and the Nehalem Valley.