Readers of a certain age may remember a song called “Sixteen Tons” which went to number one on the Billboard charts in 1955 in a version by Tennessee Ernie Ford (readers of a certain age may remember him). I always thought the song was written by Merle Travis (inventor of “Travis picking” on the guitar, a finger style way of playing) who recorded and released the song in 1947, but George S. Davis, a folk singer and songwriter who had been a Kentucky coal miner, claimed on a 1966 recording for Folkways Records to have written the song as “Nine-to-ten tons” in the 1930s.
I was thinking of this song when, as part of my insulating the attic project (see yesterday’s blog, “Hot, Hot, Hot”), I decided to take down all but last seven years of tax return records. We moved into the house in 1988 and I think the earliest records date to 1981. There might be earlier ones buried beneath the others. I found it interesting that the assorted documentation associated with a tax return first fit into a shoe box, then a Girl Scout cookie box, and then a letter-sized storage box. That’s what I used last year, and I think I’m going to have to go to a legal-sized storage box this year.
Of course, I just can’t put tax records out with the other recycling: they need to be shredded or otherwise properly disposed of. We have a pretty good crosscut shredder, but it is an arduous process to shred thousands of checks (they used to be sent back with your monthly bank statement). My father (who I wrote about last week in Bring Him Home”) is staying with us in between a stay in Manassas Rehab Center after an illness which put him in the hospital and a place in about a month at Caton Merchant House assisted living. He wanted something useful to do so he offered to shred the contents of as many boxes as he could until he moved to CMH. I took him up on his offer and he’s done about three boxes in two days.
I investigated what it would cost to have the documents shredded by a company and the answer was about a dollar a pound. I weighed all the boxes and they came to 138 pounds (or .069 tons). I told my father I would pay him a dollar a pound to shred and he said he wanted time and a half for overtime. We are now conducting contract negotiations.I’ll let you know how it turns out.