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Landfill destiny

I come from a family of scavengers and trashpickers. So does Joel. In fact, in our early relationship, we bonded over an outing on Large Trash Day down in the ritzy Brookside district, when I scored my prized enamel-and-chrome step-stool (1950s vintage) and Joel found a banjo!


When my sister and I were kids, we loved getting to go to the municipal dump with our folks. We’d pile out of the cab of the pickup and immediately set off on a treasure hunt. Mom and Dad would offload whatever it was they needed to dispose of, and make a circuit themselves. You never knew what (if anything) you might turn up. One time, Mom found some really pretty ceramic vases in a range of speckled orange and yellow in a kind of Danish Modern style. Another time my sister and I found a genuine Little Red Wagon, which saw us through childhood and now serves as a picturesque planter for some of Mom’s indoor jungle:

I was talking to my Dad on the phone the other day, and he was telling me about one of his friends’ collection of half-disassembled import cars, and I was just plain avid to see the lot. Apparently, amongst the scrapyard is a languishing Jensen-Healey and a Lotus Elise. Seriously. In Western Nebraska. Those cars are pretty exotic anywhere in the US, but in the boondocks especially so! Dad’s always had friends with projects, guys who have small, personal scrapyards with several decaying Mustangs or a variegated collection of battered Dodges or some other particular obsessive busted-ass car bent. And I always enjoyed touring these various private junkyards, envisioning how sweet a cherry 1968 Buick Riviera could look out on the cruise.

Much like my love of a good City Dump, my love of junkyards is all about the possibilities. For every thirty battered beaters full of mouse turds, there might be one lurking sleeper that could be turned around into something really special.

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