Thursday, June 26, 2008

Call it Dumpster Diving, Garbage Hunting, or Trash 2 Treasure Hunting

I've been doing it as an active hobby/"occupation" for the past 15 years.

I can remember when I was little (shh, about 40 or 45 years ago!) - we would be leaving church - my mother already drove slow as hell, but she was purposely going even slower so she could look up and down all the streets and alleys - garbage was picked up every Monday and Friday morning - she wanted to see what everyone was throwing out! Me and Johnny, my baby brother, would always hide on the back floorboard!

I'll never forget her whipping (well, it felt like she was whipping! She jumped from 10 to 20mph in no time!) into the alley behind the nuns' house, the convent (we attended the Catholic Church and the Catholic school) and she single-handedly loaded a dresser or table or something into the trunk of our old Buick Electra 225! We (me & my little brother) were so embarrassed! Not to mention she was cutting in on our Sunday morning cartoon and Shirley Temple time!

She and her friend, Bobba Jones, got in the adult woodworking class at the local public high school and, for a month, they were in our garage doing who-knows-what to that piece of furniture. They were sawing, and sanding, and painting and whatever else - they wouldn't let anyone see! Little did I know, it would change my life!

Do you know, to this day, that gorgeous unusual antique table sits in the formal living room of her million dollar beach house? It turned out to be worth thousands! Guess what? It's on my inheritance list! When she asked me if I wanted it, I didn't hesitate one second!

Folks, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that over 75% of my furniture and furnishings were either found or left abandoned in one of my family's storage rental units! Gorgeous lamps (I have an uncle who fixes lamps), tables, chairs, wicker patio sets, recliners, fabulous mirrors (I have 3 in my home right now), sterling silver pieces, etageres, all kinds of cool stuff. I've even sold a bunch of items to the second-hand furniture man, who I ended up becoming close friends with because I saw him so much! Once, someone abandoned a complete set of 4 brand new tires!

Once, when Bree was around 4 or 5, I woke her up at 5 in the morning, because I had "caught" some people putting out bags and bags and bags of stuff. I stopped and found out that their mother had just passed away and they had to completely empty out her apartment. Bree said, "Ooooo, we hit the jackpot!" There were full bottles of perfume, NOT cologne, perfume! Her children, the dummies, didn't want any of it - they had their own stuff! Whatever!

I got a beautiful working antique clock! There was gorgeous costume jewelry, a complete set of dishes, glasses, and pots and pans; canned goods, Oriental rugs, brand new unopened make-up and other toiletries and household products; lawn and beach furniture - and I haven't even touched on all of the furniture and Christmas decorations and knick-knacks and floral arrangements - you name it!

Did I mention I got 2 Salvador Dali framed reproductions? Oh, and 2 Ansel Adams framed prints? Made a pretty penny off of those!

It took us about 30 minutes to toss the big lawn bags into the back of my truck and about 3 days to sort through (and clean) it all! Bree made herself a little pile of stuff and played "store owner" to her little friends with her treasures! Even she pocketed some "7-11" money!

So, say what you want to about us scrounges! One man's trash IS truly another man's treasure!


Deb Lord said...

Good on you Geni. I just wish people around here did not break things up beyond repair so that we could do the same. We do have an internet site called freecycle where people offer items they no longer want for free and other people take it. This is to help keep items out of the rubbish tips.

I have gained some nice items through that site.

oldfurg said...

Good Geni!! Like you said, one mans garbage IS another mans treasure. It is unbelievable that stuff we sold at moms sale after she passed away. And my sister said that mom had nothing worth keeping!!! Little did she know,,,lol!! And what went in the dump, was meant for the dump,,so I do know what you mean. I haven't gone ot garage sales in a couple of years, but would love to go again. Its unbelievable what you can find. Haven't seen alot in the allies around here, but I'm sure if your in the right spot at the right time, you could find something!! Great story too!! Take care,,,,Gloria!

Helen said...

Oh my Gosh, Geni, all my friends call me the "Dumpster Diving Queen" I have found so many great things in the trash. I could not believe people would just throw out such good stuff. Some of the best times I ever spent with my mother, who has passed now, was yard sales and dumpster diving. Robert gets embarassed and is always rushing me while I am going through the stuff on the streets, he thinks I am going to prison or something. I just believe it helps from filling up the landfills and I always love FREE stuff. I love to craft and redo things and make them mine. I have been having withdrawals since my vehicle has broken down but I still check out my street and roll, pull, tug, etc. whatever I can home. I have also found some wonderful things, and actually I hit paydirt on someone's mother's house where they threw out everything. Once I found a large dumpster and Robert said all you could see was my ass and my feet because I was dangling in to retrieve something wonderful. My house is also mostly furnished and decorated with my finds. When I lived at the beach we would hit Ponte Vedra two days a week and the beaches had a couple of good days and the first of the month is great for apartment complexes because that is when people move out if they can't pay the rent. I love it HAPPY HUNTING I just wish we could go together sometime.

Michelle said...

Geni , its a shame you dont live near me , we have so much in common its unreal !
I LOVE to go dumpster diving (or curb crawling).
There is even a site for us dumpster divas to share tips , plan group dives etc .
Im sad now that my lil ones are getting too "Mature" to be seen jumping in a dumpster , weve spent many evenings out patrolling the dumpsters and always come home thrilled with our finds .

Michelle said...

Oh and one of the best places to find treasures that many dont think about are florists , ive got tons of expensive plants that i was able to resuscitate , roses that looked beautiful for days before they had to be tossed , and even some flowers we were able to dry and use as potpourri!

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