LOUISVILLE, KY—Five weeks after the death of her 26-year-old hipster son Kent, Enid Lowery announced that the family faces a difficult task in figuring out what to do with his many unusual possessions.
"I just can't believe how much stuff Kent collected over the years," said Lowery Tuesday. "There's a poster for some movie called Urgh!, stacks of empty Quisp cereal boxes, at least five old lamps that don't work, and a slew of little plastic toys. Obviously, all these things meant something to Kent— but what? And why?"
A part-time English tutor and bassist for the local band Extra Moist, Kent died in a car accident Sept. 27. Overwhelmed with grief, his family members in nearby Bedford only mustered the strength to visit his apartment last week, where they were overwhelmed once again, this time by Kent's dense accumulation of miscellany.
Assisted by her husband Thomas and her daughter Regina Panziel, Lowery set to the task of packing up the contents of her son's crowded one-bedroom apartment.
"Of course, we'll take some of Kent's things home with us, to remember him by," Lowery said. "But we agreed, as a family, that it's not a good idea to just pack everything up and keep it. Not that we'd have enough room for five boxes of video tapes and three wooden birdcages anyway."
Although they were aware that their son had "unusual tastes," the Lowerys said they were surprised by the sheer volume of his collections. Lowery said the large number of items has made it difficult to decide which of her son's former possessions to choose as keepsakes.
"I'm so at a loss," Lowery said. "Which of these things best represents Kent? Should I choose the Pachinko machine to place on the mantle at home? Would Patricia [Eisner, Kent's favorite aunt] rather have this Two-Lane Blacktop DVD or this set of tiki lamps? What is a Pachinko machine?"
The family has considered donating the items that will not be kept as reminders of Kent.
"I'd like to give his dishes to Goodwill or the local church, but I'm not sure they would want them," Lowery said. "None of his plates and cups match, and every single coffee mug is different. Here's a Zoloft mug, and here's one from White Castle hamburgers. This one says 'Hands Off Howard's Coffee.' I find it strange that he owned that, considering that he lived alone and never mentioned a friend named Howard."
Although Kent's parents lean toward donating his possessions, Kent's 30-year-old sister said she feels that the legacy of his eccentric, old, and cheaply made possessions should be preserved.
"Unfortunately, Kent didn't leave a will," Panziel said. "But it's obvious that he put a lot of time and effort into collecting these things. I think we should try to get them to someone who might appreciate them. Maybe there's someone out there who really wants a set of Hello Kitty pillows and an accordion with no straps."
Panziel said the family has been largely unable to determine which items might be of value to anyone other than Kent.
"See these records?" said Panziel, pointing to a pile of Herb Alpert LPs. "I don't think Grandma even listens to this stuff anymore, but I know that old vinyl can be valuable. If some of these records are worth something, I'm sure Kent would want us to think carefully about where they end up. But is this copy of 'The Super Bowl Shuffle' worth keeping? How about this Amazing Kreskin record? I don't know how to tell."
The Lowerys said the logistics of selling all of the items, either to raise money for charity or to cover the funeral expenses, are daunting.
"We've been going through his things for days," Lowery said. "Just think how long it would take to try and sell it all. We thought about having an estate sale, but I don't think a collection of Dallas and Mod Squad lunch boxes is the sort of thing anyone would buy. But then again, what do I know? I never would've guessed that Kent used a lunch box, either."
The Lowerys have asked friends who collect antiques for guidance.
"We called our friend Jack Puller, but he didn't know what to say," Lowery said. "He said there's a market for antique toys and old dishware, but he didn't know the value of any of the specific things I named. He didn't have any advice at all on the plastic cookie jar shaped like a dog that barks when you open its head. And he just coughed when I asked him about the phone shaped like a football."
As of press time, the family is considering putting Kent's belongings in storage while they do some research.
"I'm hoping someone out there can tell us more about what these things are, and what we should do with them," Thomas Lowery said. "We're just too sad and confused to make the decision right now. One thing's for sure: The furniture is going to the curb. To look at it, you'd think that's where Kent, God rest his soul, got it in the first place."