Local dump was neighborhood gathering place

Susan Manzke

Every Tuesday is garbage day in my township. Every other Tuesday it’s also time to bring the recycling container to the road. The trash truck comes through here very early, which means the containers must be out Monday evening. Now that’s the way it should work, but not so much for me lately.

Stella watches from the porch as Susan checks the not-yet-full garbage container.

The year started off for me by forgetting to set my stuff out. I was sure it would be a Wednesday pickup, because of the holiday. That was wrong, but I figured I’d just catch up next time.

Later when the scheduled time for both garbage and recycling came around, I had a horrible cold. Then with great effort, I was just able to wheel/drag my two containers from the house to the end of my driveway. This was quite a feat for me because I was weak from the virus that had attacked my body. Too much coughing had zapped me of all my strength.

That Tuesday, it took all that I had to bring the empties back to the house. Afterward, I curled up under a comforter and rested, regaining my strength.

I skipped the following week. Even my kitchen garbage can wasn’t full. There was no need to take anything to the curb—in winter, garbage doesn’t get stinky. The cold weather sees to that.

The following week it would have been time to bring out both containers again. This time it was raining, and I couldn’t make myself leave the house, let alone bring them out.

My garbage can had a lot of room. I don’t usually accumulate too much.

After missing weeks of pickup, it was the recycling bin that had gotten full, yet I haven’t made the move to take it to the curb. My driveway was plowed, but it was slippery. I was too afraid of falling on an icy patch, even with ice cleats on my shoes. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

The recycling bin is over-full. The excess is going into a container on my back porch. Eventually, when the driveway shows more gravel and isn’t so slippery, I’ll take it out—I can wait until warm weather melts the ice.

All this thinking about garbage takes me back to another time. When we first moved to Seymour, we didn’t have any garbage pickup. To get rid of our junk we had to take it to the town dump. During the allotted Saturday hours everyone in the township brought their unwanted stuff there.

It was a local gathering place, except in winter when it was closed—we stored our garbage during the snowy months just as I am today.

People’s junk wasn’t just tossed in the dump. First, local news was exchanged. That’s where neighbors found out about the new family (us) with two little kids.

There wasn’t official recycling back then, but we managed to have an informal way to recycle.

The man in charge of the dump would keep an eye out for usable things. An unneeded bicycle from one family might end up down the road at another farm. Wood removed when remodeling would be set aside to see if anyone could use it in a shed. These kinds of things wouldn’t go into the dump pit to rot. Now recycling is a different kind of animal. Back then bikes and trikes never went homeless, even if two happened to need repairs they were patched together to make one working bike.

Today, my recycling is still waiting for better weather. If I’m lucky warm weather will melt the driveway ice. Weather reports say we might have rain this week. No matter, I can get by for a few more weeks without setting out my garbage bins.

Spring is not too far away!

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;