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Sun, Oct. 13

Column: Fine line between collecting, hoarding, and marriage bliss

These images offer a glimpse into Courier columnist Chris Howard's "man cave." (Chris Howard/Courtesy)

These images offer a glimpse into Courier columnist Chris Howard's "man cave." (Chris Howard/Courtesy)

When I got remarried about four years ago my whole house was a shrine of sorts to the life I'd lived.

Each room filled with feel-good things. There were theme rooms, collections of odds and ends, family pictures, newspaper articles, racquets, antiques, trophies, tennis books and magazines, quilts, stamps, letters from famous politicians, etc. That is until my wife Adriana said it needed to be condensed into one area, which leads into our bedroom now called the "MAN CAVE."

I resisted at first, not liking the fact that I had to make what was my home, "our" home - even though rationally I knew this was an important step in our relationship and marriage.

But it was tough seeing my sports-lined shelves in each bedroom that I had worked so hard to find unique items to showcase get taken down and moved into a pile. It shook me to the bone, and inwardly I wondered where the heck my priorities were. Wife----or----Things?

How do you explain that the many antique racquets that lined the walls in their own way talked to me? The posters and pictures with names like, ASHE, SMITH, LUTZ, GRAEBNER, KRAMER, and the more modern players gave and give me a special feeling inside almost like they were my best friends.

Each item represented a special memory through five decades of craziness that I fondly cherished and remembered.

My natural inclination is to find things to save that seem to be meaningful and come by it with a pure pedigree obtained through years of observation, garage sales and auctions that my parents instilled in me. My dad is now 90 years old and he still thrives on the collection of things he's accumulated during his lifetime.

My large ticket collections seem to center around hundreds of old racquets and even more tennis books and many unusual tennis antiques.

Each year we hold what is called the "Legends - Wood Racquet Tournament," which gives me an excuse to collect the old wood relics and then put them to good use.

Dressed in all white for the day, we bring out the laminated, leather gripped, gut strung-trim string of rough or smooth, weapons that made up tennis from the 1880's through late 1980's - a hundred years of what made tennis tick.

My good friend George Reynolds decided a few years ago that I needed to clean out the tennis shed, and he discarded one of my old friends in the trash can. I just had to go retrieve it, much to his disbelief. Yes, the frame was warped and it couldn't be played with any more, but it was a Bobby Riggs famous players series and the real Bobby isn't with us anymore.

So as I sit here in my man cave surrounded by an array of tennis memorabilia, at my antique looking desk, with a 1920's picture of my grandfather who used to own his own newspaper in London, Ohio, staring at me, I feel right at home.

Do you really think I need therapy, or will watching 20 episodes of that hoarding TV show do the trick?

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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