Hillbilly Dumpster Diver
Deb’s new-found rusty treasure
Speaking of Action in the Country, as a kid exploring the woods next to my suburban home on King’s Hwy in Caln Twp., I was fascinated by the natural and man-made objects I found. Usually some rusty old farm implement or antique glass bottle. In the early ’70s while I was working as a medic in Eisenhower’s hospital in Gettysburg (though he had just died) for my Vietnam War service—very stressful times—I lived in an old farmhouse w/ several other funds-deprived people. The place had a backyard dump and for R & R I’d dig in it, which helped me relax and meditate, and the treasures I found made me harken back to more pleasurable times from my childhood.
Forty years later, Deb and I live down the road a piece from my childhood home in Wagontown on what was then a farm. I’m very familiar with this farm, since my Dad’s machine shop occupied a portion of it, sharing with a cow barn, pigsty and chicken coop. It was quite an interesting hybrid business model that only my grandfarther, an inventor, coulda thunk up. My parents built their retirement home over the hill from Dad’s business, and the driveway ended up passing over and through several old dumps from the farm. Of course there were no trash pickups in those days, so farmers created their own trash pits and some of them go back centuries. Like historians looking through privies - people dumped stuff in them too and both can be archeological digs. Below the yard is a larger dump that was plowed under to landscape the property. I’ve combed every inch of these areas for 30-some years and pretty much feel I have them picked clean. But when I walk up the drive in the morning to pick up the Daily Local and The Inquirer, I’m always on the lookout for a glint that might indicate an old bottle, toy, piece of machinery or some other cool item.
So just the other day, I was on the usual lookout and saw that tellale glint in the sunlight. The bottle I saw wasn’t worth keeping, but next to it, sticking up, was what turned out to be a heavy duty rusty barrel hoop. I was in hillbilly heaven! I draped it over one of my organic driveway sculptures. Later, as Deb and I walked down to see her tulips blooming by the road, I was bragging about my find and pointing out where I found it. Just at that moment Deb exclaimed, “What’s That!?” And like a beam of light I followed her gaze and sticking out of the ground 4” was a the tip of a rusty iceberg. I could not believe either of us even saw it, as we’ve walked by it hundreds of times. So I said, “Deb, it’s your find, go over and pull it out so we can see what it is.” She couldn’t pull it out—it was buried pretty deep— and I had to pull and kick and wiggle it and finallly got it out. What she found it in the picture above resting on the concrete pot. We still can’t figure out what it belonged to, but she gets the “Hillbilly Dumpster Diver Award” for the coolest piece so far this year. However, for the dumpster diver hall of fame, the mid-1800s potato digger is the winner. If you ever visit, you’ll see it gracing the entrance to our yard.
Factoid: On a more ethereal note, I heard on NPR the other day from an water expert who wrote a book called The Big Thirst. He said that all water on earth came from the Milky Way 4.4 billion years ago. And here’s the kicker: We still have no more or no less water on earth from back then. Talk about recycling! On a funny note, the guy said “we’re all still drinking dinosaur pee.”