My late, greatly loved husband, was a pack rat of gigantic proportions.  He has been gone for 45 years, I have moved twice since than and I am still finding items that he owned.  I have gone through his and my possessions, disposing of things I no longer want, or use, and sorting others many times so that I could find them if needed.  But I still come across some interesting items.

When we married in 1947 he brought with him all of his beloved possessions, in his mind, and things that he might need some day or would come in handy.  I was shocked when he presented me with a bag of socks that needed mending.  It was a big bag, so I am sure some dated back to his high school days. Needless to say, I was not going to spend my time darning old socks.  I don’t remember what he did with the sock bag, but I don’t remember his disposing of it.

One wall in our garage was stacked to the ceiling with newspapers that he had not gotten around to reading.  But couldn’t part with them because he didn’t want to miss some interesting story. When we moved out of that house into a larger one I thought he was going to cry.  But he survived the move, without the newspapers. However, he did bring his collection of old magazines that he hadn’t read yet. In addition, he had reams of paper, boxes of pens and pencils, and all sorts of items he might need for his writing activity.

This was in the days prior to the computer age, so we didn’t have one.

My husband, Jim, was an unsuccessful writer.  He loved to write. As a newspaper reporter he was able to use his talent to write the story that accompanied pictures of the event he had covered.  But wasn’t able to bring that ability into other types of publication. I still have some of the stories he wrote along with two scrapbooks of his news reporting days.

And, again today, I ran across a minor item that was typical of his collections.  It was a tiny box of one sided razor blades. I haven’t seen those in a very long time, but they are very handy to use.  It is a great gadget to use opening a taped- up box.

In retrospect, I believe that his need to have everything handy that he might need someday, or, perhaps was a result of his father’s untimely death.  That parent died at the age of 34 of a heart attack, at home. Jim was 8 years old and his sister was 6. His mother was devastated and could not take care of her children.  They were sent to live with relatives until she could recover. That family was not a loving one and the children did not thrive.  His mother never remarried.

Other than the need to have “things” and keep them, Jim did not show any bad effects of his childhood.  He was everything I wanted in a husband and I miss him to this day.

Two Men, a Zippo Lighter and Marilyn Monroe

This is a story about my late husband, his ingenuity, and his imagination.

My husband, Jim Denyer, was a newspaper reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner in 1962.  He and his long-time friend, Examiner photographer Clayton “Bud” Gray, were assigned to prowl the streets of LA during the night in their car and follow up on events that occurred, getting the story and pictures.

One night in August, 1962, they heard over their police radio that Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home.  Knowing that her body would be taken to the morgue, they headed there hoping to get a picture. Upon arrival they just walked into the morgue. No one else was there, no police, and no other reporters.  They knew that pictures would not be allowed, so Bud hid his camera in his shirt.

They found the room where she was lying on a gurney with an attendant who questioned them as to whether they had a camera.  Of course, they denied they did.  However, Jim took out his Zippo lighter and kept clicking it open and closed.  The attendant apparently thought Jim was just nervous.  But the sound the lighter made disguised the click of Bud’s hidden camera and they got the picture which appeared on the front page of the Examiner the next morning. The picture only shows part of Marilyn’s foot at the end of the gurney.  It could have been anyone, although the attendant identified her for them.

The Examiner had the only picture of Marilyn and the 2 of them were congratulated.

I must add that this was 51 years ago and prior to today’s swarm of photographers who make life miserable for celebrities.  Getting that picture in today’s news would have been not only impossible, frowned upon if somehow taken, but then it was considered a creative coup.

Both men have since passed away.  The picture may still exist somewhere.