Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vintage Waste Collection: Hot Cider on Trash Day

When I was growing up, razor blades and broken glass weren't just put in the trash, they had to be wrapped first. They told us, when we asked why, that it was so it wouldn't hurt the trash haulers. They had to lift the cans and carry them all the way down the driveway to the truck and dump them - then they carried the empty cans back and put them up at the back of the houses.

Plastic can liners were unheard of at that time, so trash was loose in the outdoor bins. Then as now, people looked out for others in practical ways. Razor blades were disposed of in a closed container with a slot in it - actually called a "blade bank" - which could be thrown away when full by wrapping it in a paper sack so that it wouldn't break. Nandy kept his blade bank in the medicine cabinet. It had a picture of a funny old man on it and a legend that read "For old blades, by crackey!" Same with broken glass: it was put into a paper grocery sack, folded over, and then into a second one before it was put into the trash.

Thoughtful people would bury spoiled food, rather than dump it, to help keep from attracting animals to rummage in the cans. "Garbage disposals" had not been heard of. It was easy to bury a bit of food with one quick push of the shovel, and this added nutrients to the earth.

Of course, there was far less food waste back then because we cooked all meals, ate leftovers, used things up, and most of the rest was fed to pets. If people didn't have their own pets, they would pass their scraps to their neighbors' dog, put it out for the alley cats, or save it for a friend's chickens. Stale bread not used for cooking was thrown out on the lawn for the birds. Chicken bones went into the trash, because they are dangerous for dogs (they splinter), but that was all.

I find that knowing who is picking up my trash makes me more careful of it too. I freeze chicken carcasses and put them out the morning of trash day so that our garbage won't smell bad. One of the haulers once complemented me on how tidy our trash is!

Before we moved here, we used to tip the guys who collected our trash - there were 2, one who rode the truck and one driver. A small tip of $10 each is a nice thing. One year I was unprepared and only had twenties so they got a "double" tip. We didn't expect it, but after that, they brought our bin all the way back up to the house after emptying it for the entire next year!

Blanket, where we live now, is so small that the City trash pick up runs one day each week, starting at 8 am and is finished by 4 pm. We have small individual can dumpsters that the truck can lift to dump, but the guys also will dump regular cans and pick up whatever else is left out for removal. It is very much like traditional trash collection always was.

They stop for a break at mid-day in warm weather and sit in the shade under the pecan tree in our side yard. We keep chairs out there for them - it's a nice cool place to rest in the hot summertime.

So, since we know these guys - we go to church and socialize with them and their families - they get cards at Christmas, like all our friends, and instead of a tip, they get a mug of steaming hot spiced apple cider on a cold trash day during the winter season. It is cold today so this was a great day for it. We drank hot cider in the cold sun and chatted about pecans. I really really like being able to know all the people that make our world such a nice place to be.

There's one nice cup left, steaming in the carafe, for Paul when he gets in.

Merry Christmas to All!

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