Tuesday, November 10, 2009

True Tales of Growing Up Southern: Daycation at the Dump

"Girls, y'all want to go to the dump?" My daddy's offer had my two sisters and me squealing with excitement.

"Really, can we go, can we go?"

"Go ask Mama."

We found Mama and begged, "Please, Daddy said we could go to the dump, please, please?"

My mother would give us her blessing but warned as we ran back to Daddy, "Don't stand too close to the edge." This was the same advice she'd given us on our family trip to the Grand Canyon.

Three little girls climbed into their daddy's old, blue pick-up truck. We sat up front on the bench seat in a tight row, sans booster seats, five-point harnesses, shoulder belts or air bags. The pick-up's bed held our ticket to the dump. Daddy backed out of the driveway and instructed, "Wave to Mama." She waved back and disappeared inside, grateful for an afternoon's peace.

It took only two minutes to drive through town and reach the road that headed out to the Texas state line. Our destination was just a few miles away but seemed like worlds apart. What a grand adventure, riding in Daddy's truck and participating in the important mission that is taking stuff to the dump. We'd talk a bit or listen to the radio but mostly we just rode and wondered and held our long, tangled hair away from our faces. Daddy rode with the windows down and the whipping air seemed appropriate on this journey. No one needed a/c on the way to the dump.

The truck turned onto the dirt road that led to the dump. Anticipation grew and my sisters and I positioned ourselves for the first view, the first glimpse of that glorious hole in the ground. Similar to how we felt approaching the Grand Canyon.
"Oh, I see it, I see it!" I shouted. The first born in me always had to be first.

Daddy scanned the perimeter, looking for the perfect place in which to unload. After he'd made his choice, he carefully backed the truck to the dump's edge, stopping after we girls became nervous but before we were frightened. My sisters and I filed out of the truck and took our places dangerously close to the edge. I surveyed the awesomeness that is a giant hole filled with junk. Imagine if a meteor composed of retired appliances, worn furniture, dirty mattresses, busted electronics, tired clothes, broken toys and just plain old trash hit the earth traveling at top speed. The result would be my hometown's dump. A crater-sized trash can loaded with must-haves that had been downgraded to don't-wants.

I peered into the vastness, looking over the contents, my young mind taking it all in. Wonder why someone would throw that away? Hey that looks like a good chair. Oh, is that one of those rocking horses you can bounce on? Maybe there were some items worth saving, I thought. You know what they say, "One man's trash is another man's future trash."

I pointed out the possibilities to Daddy. Maybe he could creep down into the dump and score us some treasures. "No, girls, this stuff is trash. There's nothing here worth anything." My dad was right, it's a dump, after all.

Daddy chunked our contribution into the hole and we watched in awe. Our daddy was big and strong and boy could he hurl trash. Soon it was time to load up and make the short drive home. Being little girls though, we drifted off to sleep, worn out from our big adventure and dreamed about our next daycation at the dump.

Action Andy has his own fond memory of the dump. He and a buddy were granted the pleasure of taking old TV sets to the dump to help someone out. They gleefully tossed those televisions into the hole and watched the screens shatter and the picture tubes explode. He told me this story with sparkle in his eyes. Is their anything cooler to a young boy than getting the green light for destruction?

AND THEN Action Andy lamented the fact that our boys have not been to a dump. We have overlooked this rite-of-passage as we raise our boys in the pretty, master- planned suburb we call home. We pay handsome association fees so that we never have to visit the dump but I get the feeling change is coming.


  1. The scene you describe sounds like my two year old son's dream come true (especially the addendum about Action Andy and the smashing TVs). And your post is a great reminder of the easy joys available to our kids that I, at least, forget out when fixating on play dates and swimming lessons. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I can relate. We moms are such planners now, making sure our kids have the best of the best. I am trying to let this go because you can see the memories that stick are about trips to the dump and such.

  3. Funny what we remember as "treasures", eh? Thanks for sharing that - for reminding me that the joy is in the oddest of places for the kids!

  4. I remember going dumpster diving once in Florida and it was a highlight of our trip. treasures can be found anywhere. :O)

  5. It's so funny to think about the things we once thought were so fun! They're the things my kids LOVE now! Like running to the bank with Daddy and getting suckers in the drive through window! Or heading over to Lowe's while he gets a new handle for the toilet! Go figure!

  6. Bina- Joy IS in the oddest places! You're right.

    Diane- I have never been dumpster diving, too chicken. I'm impressed.

    Jody- Love it! If my husband has to get something from the attic, it's teh highlight of the day. That clever fold-out ladder is the best.

  7. I cannot believe I do not remember the dump! I remember talking about it and maybe even driving there, but I cannot get a picture in my head of what it looked like!

  8. Anonymous sister- I can't believe you don't remember the dump either. What a shame:(
    It looked exactly how I described it!

  9. Ahhhh, the dump! This non-anonomous sister remembers the dump quite well! How can one forget? Chantel probably fell asleep on the way. I still am amazed at the dump. In fact, as I've grown older and wiser I realize two things about the dump. One, we are running out of room and destroying our planet and must see recycling as a necessity and not a hippie's delight. Two, actions such as Action Andy's TV hurling is quite dangerous as it releases toxic chemicals into the ground. On a lighter note, I do miss dump trips with Dad. And trips to the land that included IBC root beer! Mmmm!