Garbage collection is such a twentieth-century thing.
Rural Maine’s nineteenth-century dumps were not safe from our depredations. Every weekend, we scouted old house sites and looked for where the families had dumped their trash. Cobalt blue jars, glasses, cups, and plates were the goal of our scavenger hunt. Cleaned up and offered for sale, they added to the meager income we received at the Poland Springs Hotel. During work hours, we were waiters, but we were entrepreneurs of the vintage in our spare time. We even had a clientele list of antique shops eager to scout our most recent finds.
Some of the antiquers thought we’d exclusively hunt for them and launch a tirade if they found out that we’d offered a select piece, like a Moses jug, to someone else. But being highly independent business types, we’d merely cut them off from our finds until they redeemed their manners. After all, how dare they treat us in such a pedestrian manner? The Raiders of the Lost Ark was decades away, but we were intrepid explorers of the lost in Maine.
It was sometimes dangerous too. Things could collapse under you; salvageable items lurked amid sharp trash and vermin. And the competition was fierce. But the rewards were beautiful. Hand and mold-blown glass in various shapes and forms – from tiny medicine vials to tureen-sized finds – you wondered how some of the pieces survived intact. I often wondered why they had been deposited there at all. They seemed too lovely to be abandoned.
I never retained any pieces for myself; I was much too much of a vagabond to weigh myself down with mere “stuff” in those days. And the money that came in from their sale was too good to miss.
Once again, one person’s trash became another’s treasure.