I don’t know what made me do it, but I did.

Yep, I started down the road of cleaning up my email inbox.

By some standards, 1,300 emails in the main level of the inbox is rookie-level, and to others, that would be a horror. I’m somewhere in between — it’s too much, but not insane.

It didn’t take long into the process to realize that there was a lot of sadness, a lot of regret, a lot of missed opportunities in there. There was a lot of stuff that was easy to delete, which helps the mindset, that I was moving forward. But I did find myself dwelling on things.

The email in question is one I use primarily for work, so there aren’t oodles of family-related notes. It’s mainly wrestling, with a little hockey.

The sad aspect is obvious. There are so many emails about death. “Thank you for writing about so-and-so.” “You left out this from your obituary.”

And all too frequently, “You forgot these kids from outside of the marriage” or “I was his first wife” or some variation thereof.

I got a lot of attention for the feature in 2022 on the five “forgotten” kids of Rocky Johnson who he had nothing to do with raising, but the reality is that, over the years, I could have done that story probably a couple of dozen times, easy. For every kid that gets in touch where it works out and I can help — like getting one of Sputnik Monroe‘s kids in touch with his father before Sputnik left this earthly orbit or famed hockey tough guy Stu Grimson connecting with football player/wrestler Mike Webster through me — there others out there still searching. I tried to help some, I really did, but it has to be okay with the wrestler to give out their info or I put the ball fully in their court. Others that I came across, I realize I just ignored. For shame.

There were other similar ones in there too: “Tell me about my father/uncle/second-cousin-twice removed” or “This site has this info but you wrote that.” You can’t help everyone.

And some I just wonder, Why the hell didn’t I delete that instantly? Like this one: “My husband loves wrestling and I would love to see my husband be a part of Wrestlemania 28!!!” Umm, how am I supposed to help with that?!

Greg Oliver and Nathan Hatton in Greg's office. Photo by Quinn Oliver

Greg Oliver and Nathan Hatton in Greg’s office. Photo by Quinn Oliver

It wasn’t until the pandemic and lockdown that I really got into the collecting aspect of wrestling fandom, trying to unload the massive collection I inherited from superfan Terry Dart. I realized that some people were hunting for very specific things, and I came away with a greater appreciation of what little is available from the past — and how much work it is selling stuff and then sending it out.

So every time I revisited an email with “I came across this, is it worth anything?” or “We found this from our father” I mentally kick myself for not snapping it up and either keeping it for myself or flipping it to someone I know would have appreciated it a ton.

A few times I went, Damnit, why didn’t I follow up on this one? 

It could be a story that I’d worked on where I had completely overlooked that I had a contact that would have helped immensely, sometimes a key family member. Ugh. Missed opportunities. That story could have been exponentially better — or maybe the lead wouldn’t have worked out at all.

WWWF World champion Bruno Sammartino heads to the ring. Photo by Brad McFarlin

This is one of the first photos Brad McFarlin ever sent me — WWWF World champion Bruno Sammartino heading to the ring. Photo by Brad McFarlin

Fortunately, there were some gems, like first emails from regular staffers. I had completely forgotten that our regular West Coast writer Ben Lypka had interviewed me for a project years previously. Then there were the notes from Brad McFarlin trying to convince me of his legitimacy as a photographer, someone who’d been there; now, I know his story really well and count him among the true friends I’ve made in this wacky wrestling business.

The acerbic emails from wrestling historian/bon vivant J Michael Kenyon make me smile even years after he shuffled off to the Great Saloon in the Sky. Questioning an age in an obituary, he quipped, “Is there some kind of ‘international date line’ between the U.S. and Canada whereby 83 below the border somehow, miraculously, becomes 84 above it?”

In the end, I find myself questioning my mind — and mindset. How did I let it get this bad? Didn’t I work in a library for three years? I should be better organized. Why didn’t I follow up on some of these? It almost seems like it’s indicative of other things I’ve let slide in my life. My office and desk(s) used to be a lot better arranged, and now, well, not so much.

The issue is probably deeper than just the inbox, eh?

Thanks for hearing me out, at least.

Writing always makes me feel better.

TOP PHOTO: Greg Oliver sorts through one bin of wrestling stuff gotten from the late Terry Dart. Photo by Jim Oliver