Tuesday, October 2, 2012

dump picking





    I grew up in a very poor region of southeast Ohio Dirt road poor. By today's standards we were poverty stricken but we were no richer or poorer than any of our other neighbors. The house was warm when it was cold out. The roof did not leak. There was food in the pantry and our water was clear and cold.
I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Families did not move far away. Just about everybody had someone in their immediate family that worked in a coal mine.
If you drove along the roads in this area you could see long ugly scars left behind from where the coal companies broke open the ground. Certain township roads fed off from the county roads. These roads were always an adventure. Some went into deep, dark forests where very few cars or trucks traveled. The grass grew up in the centers. Trees branched outward and formed a canopy over the gravel blocking out sun and noise. Other side roads would flood and wash out and you may have to drive in reverse quite a while before finding a place wide enough to turn around.
Certain roads were only one lane and very narrow. If you came across someone coming towards you you prayed that they slowed down and moved over enough that you did not end up off the road.
A friend of mine sent me a link to Freecyle and that brang back these memories. Where I lived did not have a trash pick up. I think recycling was our nature with out a name. Our household garbage was always sorted. Paper went in a paper sack. Glass items were sorted as returnable's (pop and beer bottles) and cans. Occasionally an item that was neither came to be needing disposed of or the collection was getting big enough to warrant a trip to the dump.
The dump was an area off of one of those dirt side roads that the coal company cut into about 30 feet away from the road. It was this monstrously ugly and fasinating area about 3/4 mile long and probably 50 or 60 feet deep and probably 75 feet across. No one ran the dump, it was just there. But there were unspoken dump rules. Usable items were to be left at the top by the road, such as wooden household items, dressers, tables, chairs. Children's stuff went to a different spot by the road. Cans and bottles went to another area. Fridges stayed at the top for a while and televisions always landed with the screen facing the road.
I always loved going to the dump with my grandpa. It was always an adventure for me. We would drive and sometimes if it was just the two of us on the way there I could shift the gears on the truck, other times he would push the seat all the way back and I could sit on his lap and steer.
When we got there, he would drive slowly past and then turn us around and come back and park. We would get out and walk along, picking up stuff from the wrong side of the road, tossing stuff to the right side and proper areas. We would talk about the stuff that was there and why it was there. You could tell alot about people by what they threw away. Harsh judgment was passed on folks who threw away paper products and things that should be buried or composted. Dressers or chairs that were thrown away because a handle was missing or a rung was lose was almost a cardinal sin in grandpas eyes. Those items often went to the truck to be taken home and fixed, often to be given away to someone else. Rusty wagons and bicycles were also brought home to be sanded and painted and given to family members.
If grandma went along, we sorted through clothing piles looking for items that could be cleaned and mended and passed along. She always kept her eyes out for pots and pans and mason jars.
I remember the anticipation of dump picking and the hopes of wondering what kind of toy or treasure I would find. Some stuff was just sad. One time there was a baby crib, filled with clothing and toys. That spoke for itself. Another time there was a shiny car hanging off the edge filled with beer cans. Once there was a dining room table with 6 chairs. Someone had placed a table cloth on the table and put matching plates on it.
To this day, I like to curb pick. Just because it is setting at the curb doesn't mean its junk.