Never can say goodbye: The odd, mysterious and useless things I found in my kitchen junk drawers

Emilee Geist

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Where did the concept of the kitchen junk drawer come from? Everybody’s got at least one, right? The drawer where odds and ends, doo-dads and little trinkets go to die. Because we can’t throw things out, right? We have sentimental attachments to stuff. Or we think […]

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Where did the concept of the kitchen junk drawer come from?

Everybody’s got at least one, right? The drawer where odds and ends, doo-dads and little trinkets go to die.

Because we can’t throw things out, right? We have sentimental attachments to stuff. Or we think something may be useful in the future.

In many ways, the kitchen junk drawer is about hope. And our own history.

But we have to get things out of the way. So they go in the junk drawer. And will likely never be seen again until our kids clean out the house after we die.

I’ve actually got three junk drawers, and in more than 25 years of home ownership, they’ve become home to a lot of strange stuff.

Here, have a look…

What are the odds of finding two cards from the same deck in the junk drawer? (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

And it’s a pair of jacks! I’ll raise you! (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

The junk drawer often becomes the repository for old electronica, like this jack for a telephone landline. One end went in the phone, the other into the wall. I don’t think our landline wall outlets even work anymore. Do I have to explain what a landline is? Some other time. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

When was the last time you used Wite-Out to make a correction to something you’d typed? When was the last time you TYPED something? Maybe you used Liquid Paper instead…? Fun fact: Monkee Michael Nesmith’s mom invested Liquid Paper. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Somewhere in the house, there are board games missing these dice. And we still do play board games in the house. When we’re not playing Jackbox games on the computer. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I have no idea how long these chattering teeth have been in the drawer. I have no idea where they came from. But do they still work? See below! (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Some photos go into the photo album. Some get stored in boxes. Some get tossed in the junk drawer. It’s nothing personal. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I have no idea whose sleepover birthday party this was, and I don’t recognize anybody in this shot except for my son, who’s sitting on the floor, third from the left. I’m guessing the photo was taken at least 15 years ago. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Score! I found a $100 dollar bill! Sweet! Nothing better than found money, am I right? (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

It’s actually just an eraser. And who uses erasers anymore? The same people who use Wite-Out! (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

MP3 players discarded by my kids over the years. Useless without their chargers, which are probably under somebody’s bed. But here’s my thing about electronics: I generally don’t throw the items out when they begin to fail. I hope that if I leave them alone for a while, they’ll get better. These haven’t. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

How did this get in the junk drawer??? It’s a Christmas ornament featuring my niece, Sadie. This will be restored to its rightful place with the holiday decorations. Sorry, Sadie! (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

No idea what car this twin pack of bulbs was purchased for. The 1988 Ford Escort? The 1994 Geo Prizm? The 1999 Ford WIndstar van? The 2007 Toyota Corolla? You can see from the price tag that I bought this item at Strauss Discount Auto, which declared bankruptcy and closed stores, including on Forest Avenue, in 2012. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Does anybody ever refill a Pez dispensers? I probably had the crazy idea in the back of my mind that these might be collectible someday. That Death Star one is fetching between $3.99 on eBay. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Speaking of collectible, I didn’t find any Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards lurking at the bottom of the junk drawer. But these may actually be of use: I often use old baseball cards as bookmarks. As long as they aren’t Mets players. Those I actually collect. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

And what’s a junk drawer without takeout menus stuffed inside? I think most if not all of these places are still open. Although if it’s my kids ordering, they just go online. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I think I need to just buy some new birthday candles. Even though I did like the cocktail ones. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Am I a hoarder? Why else would I ever save this tiny jelly jar? It’s absolutely useless. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Monuments to my utter lack of ability at even minor home repairs. They mock me. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

No, I don’t save Christmas cards. Or birthday cards. Or thank-you cards. Or old invitations. Except for the ones that for some reason end up in the junk drawer. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Transit maps from New York City, which never get used. Nor does the one from New Orleans, souvenir from one of my many vacations in the Crescent City. But useless even as a decoration. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

And here are those Mardi Gras beads I was looking for a couple of weeks ago. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

The actual TV that this remote is paired with long ago went on the fritz. But it’s still sitting in my living room because you can’t just throw out TVs anymore. Double the uselessness! On top of that, nobody even WATCHES TV any more in this age of streaming. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

This plug-in item was supposed to send out sound waves that would deter mice from entering the home. It never worked. And yet I hold onto it. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I got a cat instead. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Anti-Trump button from some protest somewhere. And still relevant for many people today. Some things are just timeless. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Nothing more useless than a single glove. Unless it’s a single sock. And I’ve got a house full of both. Because in the back of your mind you hold out hope that the match will someday show up. Take it from me, it won’t. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I will give $20 cash money to the kid who can tell me definitively where this shell came from. South Beach? Midland Beach? Rhode Island? Maine? Riis Park? (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I never got the appeal of these mini Bic lighters. They always got lost. Even the regular sized Bic lighters get lost. But somehow I grew attached to this one. And, yes, it still works. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

It’s been a decade at least since any of my kids wore these glasses. So even if their current glasses break, these would be no use. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

From somebody’s high schools locker? Or maybe used when we’d go the pool or the gym? (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

At least we know the combination. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

According to the Ultimate Mets Database, the Mets beat the Phillies at this game, 5-0. Lefthander Jon Niese threw a three-hit shutout and hit a three-run double. I always liked that guy. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I DO have a toolbox. I actually have like four toolboxes. So no reason to store these implements in the drawer. And I’m ALWAYS looking for an extension chord. Where are they? The junk drawer. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Now THIS is actually something useful. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

It’s got the ridges on the other side and can be used to loosen the sticking tops of jars. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Think I can still use this to get in free somewhere? (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

My daughter thought this was the thing you use to measure your feet when buying shoes. But my fellow journos will recognize it, particularly if they did layout on their high school or college newspaper: A pica stick. Pretty much obsolete in the business. Now where’s my X-Acto knife? (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

The travel mug that this lid belongs to has faded into history. Or maybe not. I should check my kitchen cabinets, which are only slightly less stuffed than the junk drawers. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

That Staten Island Yankees keychain is a collectors item now, I guess. What a shame. That Farrell one could get some use now that I’ve found it. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I miss the High Rock Challenge. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I’m sure I had some home improvement plans for these. But now they’re permanent exhibits in the the Museum of Hapless Home Ownership. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I’m always looking for these. But can never find them. So I go and buy more. And they end up in the junk drawer. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I promise, all my home smoke detectors are in proper working order. Why I saved these ceiling braces for old units I’ll never know. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Someday this will be “vintage political memorabilia.” (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Zero idea what device this was once a part of. Going into the garbage. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Useful if you don’t like getting the ashes on your forehead on Ash Wednesday. Or if you don’t want to bother going to church that day. And actually pretty handy during a pandemic. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I really ought to properly retire this flag instead of leaving it stuffed in the junk drawer. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Something cable-related, I think. Now everything’s wireless. And THIS is the thing that always jams the junk drawer when I’m trying to open it. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I really appreciate you coming along for the ride. Here’s what one of the junk drawers looked like before I started pawing through it for this story. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

Here’s another. It really is a mess. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

I was joking about that hoarder stuff before, but now I’m not so sure. (Tom Wrobleski/Staten Island Advance)

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