Just in case…

by Kathy on July 5, 2011 · 6 comments

in Background, Bob, Change, Decisions, Family, Inspiration, Love, Memories, Our Home, Transitions

Two weeks from today, if all goes well (dare I say, “as planned”), we will be closing on our current house and our new home, followed soon after by beginning the process of moving. Since we returned from our wonderful vacation with my side of our family to Hilton Head Island, SC (which I plan to share more about soon), we have entered “attack mode” when it comes to organizing and packing for our move.

One thing I have been reminded of in the past 48 hours is that I am hoarder. Not in the gross sense (like the people they highlight on that TV show), but in more the “closet” sense (both in that it isn’t obvious when you enter our house and in the sense that our closets, and cabinets have a lot in them)!

One of my college friends/sorority sisters gave me some great advice yesterday via commenting on one of my recent Facebook status updates. She said:

If you have the time (haha, right?) really think about each thing as you pack it. If you don’t need it, give it to Goodwill. Even though you are gaining more space in the new place you may not get such a chance to really look at everything again. From someone who has moved twice w/ kids in the last 5 years!

This morning as I got rolling with my packing to do list for the day, I took my old friend’s words of wisdom to heart and have been really trying to purge as much as I can as I go. I have already filled a brown paper grocery bag with old shoes of mine to donate and plan to add more shoes and some old purses to one or more bags. Earlier today I also starting going through the contents of our cabinets in our media center. We had a fairly large and deep shelf, and then some) that was jammed packed with VHS tapes. Though some of those tapes are movies that we purchased over the years, the majority of the tapes were of the “homemade” variety. A number of them are sentimental to Bob and me, including our wedding video and highlight tapes from the annual “Esande” Dance Company shows that I performed in when I was in high school. However, I was somewhat amused, as well as a bit embarrassed, when I came across my numbered tape collection (which had 24 labeled cases containing mostly movies that had been on TV) and many other tapes from events that I felt at the time were worth recording and saving over the 36 years of my life, “just in case” I wanted to watch them again now and then.

As I started looking through my “collection” I decided that especially since most of the movies I had taped and held onto over the years are available on DVD (many of which we actually own in addition to having them on VHS tape) and/or now they can be purchased via digital download, that it was time to get rid of them. However, it was really hard for me to imagine pitching it all without taking one last look at what I saved all these years. As I did so, I decided to take a picture (see above) and to transcribe the details of my collection for my own interest and nostalgia. I also thought some (thought certainly not all) of you might get a kick out of taking this trip down memory lane with me. I recall Mel at Stirrup Queens sharing in a post awhile back about her own VHS tape collection, so I know that I am not the only one out there that has held onto stuff like this over the years. I remember enjoying reading the shows and stuff that Mel had taped and saved throughout her childhood and adolescence and decided it would be fun and therapeutic for me to do something similar, before I threw away most of my collection for good.

When I started browsing my collection I found a few sports related tapes, mostly centered around the Chicago Bulls NBA Championships in the 1990s, including coverage of three of their victory rallies in Grant Park in downtown Chicago (after their “3-Peat,” their “4-Ever” win and the rally in 1998, which I recall I actually walked over to and witnessed some of that day, as at the time I was working in the Chicago Park District’s Administration Building, which used to be attached to the Chicago Bear’s old Soldier Field Stadium, before the most recent renovation and expansion during which they knocked down the building). I also had a tape that included Michael Jordan’s retirement press conference, I am pretty sure it was from the “first time” he retired.

I also came across, as morbid as it may sound, my celebrity funeral tapes. I shared in this post, about why I appreciate, enjoy and am inspired by attending (for those I know in person, not celebrities, rather family and friends) or watching coverage of such memorials and celebrations of life. This part of my collection, which I have not yet decided to part with, includes the funerals and memorial services for the golfer Panye Stewart (who died in a plane crash), Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005, JFK Jr. and Princess Diana (which I remember getting up in the middle of the night to watch).

Another category of tapes that I had saved were final episodes/series finales of some of my favorite television shows over the years, including: The Arsineo Hall ShowCheers, Everybody Loves Raymond (May 2005), Friends – Final Episodes, Dateline Special, Series Finale & Tonight Show with Jay Leno (May 2004) and Seinfeld (May 1998). I am also not ready to let go of these, at least not yet, however knowing that DVDs exist now for most of them, I will likely do so eventually.

The biggest part of my collection, which I mentioned before and the majority of which I am proud to say are already out of my house are my numbered (1 – 24) “Kathy’s Tapes” with mostly 2 -3 movies recorded on each one. Every tape was numbered with a regular # (either indicated with sticker(s) that came with the tape or handwritten) and many also included Roman numerals, as well as smiley faces, because throughout my life I have often liked to draw smiley faces on anything and everything. Some of the VHS tapes I clearly spent a lot of time labeling, writing neatly on and decorating and then others, not so much. Many of the movies on these tapes were recorded from TV with commercials and some from HBO or Showtime when my parents would get free trials on our basic cable TV service, as we never subscribed to the “premium” channels when I was growing up. 

I found that some of the tapes had little square stickers on them next to some movie titles on the actual tape. The stickers were grey, light blue and dark blue and I believe were included with some of the tapes and thus I must have wanted to come up with a way and/or a reason to use them. I can’t recall or even really figure out what they represented, but I clearly took the time to put them on for some reason and will include where I put them, in case I ever want to try to understand what I was thinking in the future or you want to venture a guess as to how I might have been trying to categorize them. In case you care (but mostly for my own knowledge), here is the key: Grey Sticker = G,  Light Blue Sticker = LB and Dark Blue Sticker = DB.

I also am going to include notes (in parentheses) by some of my favorites and will bold the ones that I watched over and over again throughout my childhood and/or adolescence, especially during a period of my life when I struggled with insomnia. During that I time one of the ways that I found it easiest to fall a sleep was to go down stairs (with permission from my parents) in the middle of the night and watch one of my favorite movies until I was able to crash. I eventually grew out of needing to do this, but it worked for me at the time.

So here is my list of “Kathy’s Tapes” in the order that I made them, though in some cases, as I will note, I recorded over what I originally had taped, but could still see through my writing what had originally been there:

Kathy Tape #1: 
Used to have on it:

  • The House on Carrol Street (I don’t recall ever watching this and have no idea what it is about).
  • Pretty in Pink (I still love this John Hughes classic, not sure why I would have taped over it)

Taped over them with:

  • Boyz in the Hood – G
  • The Graduate – LB
  • When Harry Met Sally – G (One of my all time favorites! I have most of this movie memorized and one of my good friends from college and I used to even be able to recite the entire seen about “Today we are going to talk like this…Waiter there’s some pepper on my pappricash, but I would be proud to partake in your pecan pie!” I am sure we could probably still do it, though it has been awhile since we have tried.)

Kathy Tape #2: 
Used to have on it:

  • Anne of Green Gables (Another of my childhood favorites, not sure why I would have recorded over it, unless it was an accident) and others, but I couldn’t make out the rest of what I erased. 

Taped over with: 

  • The Flamingo Kid
  • Spinal Tap
  • Real Genius

Kathy Tape #3 (Which I am still keeping, for now): 
Used to have on it: 

  • The Karate Kid (Not sure why I recorded over this, as I recall watching this many times in my teenage years).

Taped over with:

  • Sixteen Candles (I so LOVE this movie! One of my John Hughes favorites, up there with The Breakfast Club.)
  • The Parent Trap
  • Stand By Me (Though I recall finding parts of this movie scary when I was younger, I watched it so many times!)

Kathy Tape #4 (Which I am still keeping, for now): 

  • Alex the Life of a Child (A made for TV movie about the life and death of sports reporter Frank Deford’s daughter Alex who lived with and then died from Cystic Fibrosis. I had so many therapeutic cries over the years watching this heartbreaking and heartwarming movie. This is one that I just can’t give up. I will have to find out if there is a DVD version).
  • Ghostbusters
  • Platoon

Kathy Tape #5 (Which I am still keeping, for now): 

  • The Breakfast Club (Tied with Sixteen Candles for being my favorite John Hughes movie)
  • Heidi
  • Nadia (Another made for TV movie that I could not get enough of throughout my childhood and teenage years. Its about the Romanian Olympic Gymnast/Gold Medalist/Perfect 10 Recipient Nadia Comaneci. I grew to love this movie even more over the years when one of my childhood friends, who was like a younger sister to me took up gymnastics. I used to bring the movie over sometimes when I would babysit for her and her older sister and we would watch it together. Then one day I made her a copy and decorated the outside with pictures of and newspaper clippings about Nadia. At my bridal shower my friend gave me a beautiful VHS tape holder to store our wedding video in (which we still have and keep our video in) and she told me how much the Nadia tape I had made for and given to her years before had meant to her).

Kathy Tape #6: 

  • Desperately Seeking Susan
  • War Games
  • Grease

Kathy Tape #7 (Which I am still keeping, for now): 

  • The Karen Carpenter Story 
  • Broadcast News (One of my favorite parts of this movie is how realistically Holly Hunter’s character portrays the way women, or at least women like me, cry from time to time for no reason other than they just need a good cry).
  • Fatal Attraction (Though I totally trust my husband, this movie made me so paranoid about my future husband, long before I met Bob, cheating on me someday. Definitely one of the scarier psychological thrillers I have ever seen).

Kathy Tape #8 (though I LOVE all the movies on this one, I am not keeping it, I could always buy or rent the DVDs or purchase a digital copy down the road if I am missing them):

  • Cocoon
  • Good Morning Vietnam – DB (Such a great soundtrack! I love that the soundtrack also has some of my favorite voice tracks from the movie. This is another movie that I have always thought does so well with making you laugh and cry throughout the story).
  • Big

Kathy Tape #9:

  • Beetle Juice
  • Back to the Future – DB
  • Risky Business

Kathy Tape #10:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life  (MY ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIE!!! I have a store bought VHS version and the DVD, so I figured it is probably okay to finally let go of this copy.)
  • Tootsie – DB
  • Peggy Sue Got Married – LB 

Kathy Tape #11 (Which I will keep forever!):

  • Evanston Township High School (ETHS)’s Esande Dance Company Spring Dance Shows 1990 and 1991 (I auditioned for and “made” our high school’s dance company all four years. Though I don’t talk about it much here on my blog, for much of my childhood and adolescence I dreamed of and very much wanted to become a professional dancer someday. I would have LOVED to audition for So You Think You Can Dance if it existed back then, though I don’t know that I would have even made it to the call backs in Vegas… It is fun to imagine! I get a bit of my dancing and choreography fix these days from teaching group fitness classes.)
  • ETHS’s Medieval Revels 1990 (A Medieval Arts Festival for Freshman/First Year Students)
  • ETHS’s Bravo Arts Festival Dance Show 1990 (featuring Esande & the Gus Giordono Dance Company, I was chosen by a member of the Giordono Dance Company that year to be in a piece that he choreographed for some of the members of Esande)


  • I also have a tape with Esande’s Dance Shows from 1992 and 1993, though for some reason it did not make it into the numbered group. (Which I will also keep forever!)

Kathy Tape #12 (Another tape that had three winners, but I also am not keeping this one, for reasons I have already explained here and to myself when I convinced myself to go through with throwing them away):

  • On Golden Pond (This was the movie that I watched most during my struggles with insomnia.It has such a beautiful and calming opening scene and song, that often just watching and then closing my eyes and hearing a bit of that was all it took me to wind down and be able to fall asleep. I also was close with all four of my grandparents, especially so with my maternal grandparents, and the relationship that the step-grandson in this movie has with his step-mother’s parents reminds me a lot of how I interacted with my grandparents over the years.)
  • Dirty Dancing – LB (I had so many fantasies as a teenage girl about my parents taking our family on a vacation to a place like Kellerman’s and getting to meet and dance with someone like Patrick Swayze’s character in this movie!)
  • The Princess Bride (Such an awesome and hilarious love story! “As you wish…”)

Kathy Tape #13: 

  • The Color Purple – G
  • The Wizard of Oz

Kathy Tape #14:

  • Beaches (Another tear-jerker with a great soundtrack, that also made me laugh a lot! It also always struck me how there was a character with a small part in the movie that reminded me of and looked so much like a little girl that I used to babysit for years ago. The same one I mentioned earlier who loved gymnastics and the movie Nadia).
  • Working Girl – DB
  • Mississippi Burning – G

Kathy Tape #15:

  • Coming to America DB (Such a fun movie to watch! I never get tired of Eddie Murphy and Arsineo Hall’s antics in this one!)
  • Rain Man (Such a modern day classic for me… Bob and I often quote movies to each other in our day to day life and this is one that we reference a lot!)
  • Tequila Sunrise (I don’t recall watching this movie ever. I am not even sure what it is about or who stars in it.) – G

Kathy Tape #16:

  • Valley Girl
  • All of Me LB (Such a goofy movie with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, but I used to get such a kick out of watching it!)
  • Heaven Can Wait – DB

Kathy Tape #17:

  • Say Anything… – LB (Another of my all time favorites!!! Lloyd Dobbler was my idea of the “perfect man” back in the day. This is another movie that I can quote most of and has such an incredible soundtrack.)
  • Mannequin 
  • Dead Poets Society (I couldn’t get enough of this one when I was in high school. So inspiring!) 

Kathy Tape #18:

  • She’s Having a Baby! (Another John Hughes classic that was filmed in and around the town I grew up in. So it was fun to know some people that had cameos in it. I always enjoyed this film as a teenager and appreciate it so much more now, as an adult. I still LOVE the song “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush and cry every time I see the scene in the movie during which it is played).
  • Chances Are LB (A very quirky movie about a man who dies and comes back to life in the body of a younger guy, who then tries to take up with his wife, who is now widow. It takes his wife awhile to come around to the idea that it is really her husband in this other person’s body. For some reason I really enjoyed this one, even though it is a bizarre love story).
  • Men Don’t Leave (taped over Extreme Close Up, which I don’t ever recall watching)

Kathy Tape #19:

  • Field of Dreams (I still love watching this movie over and over again to this day. Bob and I will often watch parts of it when we are flipping channels and we find that it is on. Such a fun and moving story, with so many great quotes, which Bob and I also find ourselves reciting to each other when we are reminded of them in conversation.)
  • Places in the Heart – LB – Heart
  • Great Balls of Fire

Kathy Tape #20 (Which I will likely keep forever.):

  • YMCA City Youth and Government 1990 (A cool program that our local Y and city government did where we, as high school students, would get to pair up with an alderman/alderwoman or another city employee and participate in a mock city council meeting where we would introduce city ordinances and such). This particular year, I was an alderwoman and I recall putting forth an ordinance to require businesses in the City of Evanston to recycle! I haven’t watched this one in a long time, but I bet it would be fun and nostalgic, especially after reconnecting with so many of my old friends, who are likely on this tape, via Facebook in recent years.) and another copy of Esande 1992.


  • I have another tape with YMCA City Youth and Government 1991 that also did not make the numbering cut for some reason. That year I was the Evanston City Clerk and basically did the roll call for all the voting on the proposed ordinances during our mock City Council Meeting. (Which I will also probably keep forever.)

Kathy Tape #21 (I drew icons on this one: a witch’s hat with a pitch fork a house and a foot):

  • The Witches of Eastwick – G
  • Animal House – DB
  • My Left Foot

Kathy Tape #22:

  • The Big Chill – LB (Another great and quirky flick, with an amazing soundtrack, that I loved when I was younger, but understand and appreciate so much more deeply now, as an adult. Bob and I just watched this on TV again recently and were reminded how many awesome scenes (and a few pretty bizarre ones) there are in it.
  • Splash
  • Moonstruck

Kathy Tape #23:

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind – G (For some reason I recall that my dad really liked this movie and it was one that he wanted me to watch and appreciate it, as he did).
  • Oh God!

Kathy Tape #24 (I also drew little pictures by each title on this one, as noted below):

  • Steel Magnolias – LB (flower) Such a great chick flick! There is a wonderful scene where almost every time I see it I go from laughing to crying. One of my oldest childhood friends and I, who I don’t get to see very often these days, used to love to watch this together. We would joke about how the two oldest ladies in the movie acted together how we were going to be together when we grew up. 
  • Look Who’s Talking – DB (cute baby face, winking) Another fun and lighthearted movie that I still get a kick out of watching when Bob and I come across it while flipping channels.
  • Glory – G (American flag waving)

There were other tapes with movies and events that I had held onto all these years, but this post is ridiculously long as it is. So I will save those in a separate document for myself, in case I care to look back and reflect on them someday. Now it is very late and I need to wrap this blog entry up (which I have been working on off and on all day during my “packing breaks”). As I have shared here before, I love to write and find blogging very therapeutic. This is definitely one of the most random and stream of consciousness posts that I have ever shared here. However, I imagine if you stuck with me (or even skimmed it, which I totally understand if you did), that you might have found something you related to in this trip down my VHS tape memory lane. 

There are so many feelings and emotions swirling around in my head as we pack up our life and possessions from our current home and prepare to move into our new house later this month. It has been nice to be able to reflect on what some of these special things that I have saved all this time mean to me today and tonight as I finish writing this.  Thank you for reading and for walking with me during this very significant time of transition in my life. I don’t intend to blog in this much detail about our packing and moving experience over the next few weeks, but it was fun and interesting for me (if not for anyone else) to process my VHS tape collection in this way before purging so much of it today.  Now I am off to try to get some sleep in preparation for another day of organizing, packing, taping and labeling boxes for our big move on the horizon. Sweet dreams or good wishes to you, whenever you might read this! 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 loribeth July 6, 2011 at 6:37 am

Oh boy, can I ever relate to this post! — the tape collection, your movie choices, as well as stuffed closets generally. (Why do you think I haven't moved in 21 years??) At one point, I was videotaping every single skating competition that came on TV — & keeping them all! (&, of course, never watching them again) Eventually, I realized I just could not do that, & chucked a whole garbage bag full of skating tapes. (I did keep a couple with Kurt Browning skating specials, though. ; ) ) The great thing is, so much of this stuff you can now find on DVD or on YouTube or elsewhere online. Maybe not entire skating competitions, but certain routines by certain skaters from certain competitions are easily found. Every now & then, I will go to YouTube & watch Kurt Browning's Casablanca from the 1993 Worlds, or Paul Wylie's Olympic medal winning performance from 1992 — they still give me thrills!

You should get some of the personal tapes transferred to DVD. BIL did that with his home movies of our nephews from when they were little, & we spent the oldest nephew's last birthday watching them. They were absolutely priceless.


2 HereWeGoAJen July 6, 2011 at 7:56 am

Oh, that is the hard thing about moving, having to make so many decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.


3 Lavender Luz July 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Do you know how much I would like watching Anne of Green Gables with you?


4 jjiraffe July 6, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I loved this post, and so many of the movies you have on VHS, too. Especially "It's a Wonderful Life,", 'Sixteen Candles", and "Princess Bride" and , of course, "Steeel Magnolias". Whenever I want to have a good cry, I bring that one out.

Thanks for taking us down memory lane with you. I think the reason so many of us have a hard time parting with our things is because of the wonderful memories attached.


5 Meghan July 9, 2011 at 10:02 pm

OMG, I thought I was the ONLY person who had the Nadia movie on tape! Actually, I still have almost all of these movies on VHS…and the Anne of Green Gables is the original serial Wonderworks version. Sigh. It turns out you're actually me…


6 Adam (@inallairness) September 5, 2012 at 1:01 am

Hey – great post, would love to know if you still have the Jordan-era VHS tapes you mentioned? I am a big collector of MJ, would love to take them off your hands if we can work out some kind of deal? 🙂

Kind regards,



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