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    Kevin Wilson

    17. The Museum of Whatnot

    By Kevin Wilson

    A man himself is junk and all his life he clutters the earth with it . . . he lives in it. He loves it. He worships it. He collects it and stands guard over it. —William Saroyan, 1952


    This is how my day starts: checking the newspaper hats for silverfish. Dusting the mason jars of baby teeth. Realigning the framed labels of apricot jars. My mother calls me every Friday to remind me about my body. “Janey, you’re going to wake up one day, childless, and all you’ll have are those . . . things.” And probably she’s right. Still, I tell her that I’d rather watch over other people’s useless things than have to deal with my own. She hangs up after that.

    I am thirty-one years old. I have a degree in museum science from Dartmouth. I keep to myself. I am the caretaker and sole employee of the Carl Jensen Museum of Whatnot. We, and by we, I mean me, call it the MOW. We sell T-shirts but no one’s buying.

    The MOW is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the acquisition and preservation of the everyday made unique. Things that are ordinarily junk but not junk because someone, somewhere, made it more than that . . . Read More.


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