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  • Ben’s story got me to thinking about my “work room” in the basement, and about sheds. This story just flowed out from there. The more I hear about the island, the more I think I would probably have fit right in there.

    From the time I left home at age 18 to join the Navy, until I finally settled down, got married, and bought a house at age 30, I had very limited living space. In Boot Camp, I basically had my little locker at the head of my bed, and that was it. On a ship, whatever you owned had to fit in the locker that was under your rack. I went on a couple of backpacking trips while I was in the Navy, one for a month, one for two months, where all I owned I carried on my back in a great, full length frame backpack.

    When I got out of the Navy, after a year back at Mom and Dad’s, where I had a room and a couple of boxes of stuff in the attic, I moved into my own apartment. I had a little more room then to accumulate stuff, but it was still limited. I mostly accumulate record albums. I had about 600 of them by the time records went out of style.

    When we finally bought the house on the lake in South Jersey, I began to accumulate stuff in earnest. You name it, I accumulate it. We were very poor, then, and I learned the value of hanging onto things. You never knew when you might need something, again. If I did some plumbing work, I would save any leftover fixtures and fittings. You never knew. Same with electrical work, and for every construction job I did on that house, and I did plenty, there were plenty of leftover supplies, and I saved them all.

    That house came with an old metal shed between the house and the lake. It wasn’t long before that shed was just chaulked full of junk. We needed more room for our accumulating stuff!

    They had these great “shed kits” up the road at Builder’s Square, but it cost about 600 bucks to buy the kit with all the parts and materials. 600 bucks that I didn’t have. My buddy Chuck was always down our way on weekends, helping out with this project or that, or just hanging out and playing weekend-long games of Risk, or Axis & Allies. Chuck agreed that we needed more room to store our junk.

    On a run to Builders’ Square, we got to talkin’ about sheds, as we gazed at the various shed “models” that were on display out in front of the big store. Here was an 8’ x 12’ foot shed model – it had the actual width and height of the shed it was displaying, but was only a couple of feet deep. It was just the display model - you had to buy the whole kit, which included the plans, parts and materials, to get your build-it-yourself shed. 600 bucks. “This would be the perfect shed for you guys, Pete! How much can you afford to spend on a shed?” Oh, I dunno, maybe ‘bout $250. Chuck did some quick figurin’ in his head, and came up with a plan. “We can do this.”

    I didn’t know what he had up his sleeve, but I was game. All I knew was, I needed more room for my stuff. Chuck was one of the more resourceful people I knew. The particular shed model we were looking at was going to be replaced by a newer model. They were having a sale. Chuck thought he could work out a deal, but they would only knock 100 bucks off the price of the kit. So, he said “How much for just the model – no plans, parts or materials?” “You want that? Hell, you can have that for 25 bucks.”

    So, we bought the model, threw it on the back of my pickup, lashed it down good, and brought it home. There it stood for weeks, this big old shed model leaning up against the side of the house right in front of the driveway. When Billy Kelleher came out to visit from the city, he thought the shed door was our front door, and tried walking into it!

    But, Chuck had a plan. He extrapolated the dimensions of the finished shed from the 2 foot deep model, figured out what all we’d need in the way of parts and materials, and when Builders’ Square had a sale on materials, and Chuck had the plans all figured out, we made a run. We actually managed to get everything we needed for $215. It took a couple of weekends to raise and paint the new shed.

    From that point forward, I was known as Pete “Two Sheds” Bridgeman. Even when the old metal shed that came with the house became too dilapidated and I had to demolish it, the nickname stuck, despite having shed my second shed.

    Our place in Virginia also came with a shed in the back. This shed has stood the test of time. I’ve only had to replace the roof on it. I have since accumulated two additional sheds. These are much smaller plastic sheds, one for storing our bikes and the other for some basic yard implements, such as rakes, shovels and hoes that sits on the side of our car port. Despite now owning 3 sheds, I am still Pete “2 Sheds” B. to my friends.

    The photo is of my basement “Work Room”, which is a misnomer. This is really my tribute to Pack-Ratism. Whenever we straighten up the joint, and clear out a room to make it livable, all of the stuff that I just can’t bear to part with make its way into this room. It’s been a long time since I got any “work“ done in this room. However, when we need a part, or an extension cord, or a piece of wood for a project, I can usually find it in here. This is always the first stop, before we decide we need to make the home depot run.

    When I finally retire (which will probably be sometime in my 80’s), I’m going to organize all of this junk and open my own old-fashioned hardware store/junk shop. That’s my story, anyway. I already have the name for my place figured out. We’ll call it “Two Sheds”!
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