Random Thoughts

Moving on

... what goes around comes around

by Eleanor Jenkins

Watching Nightline last night, January 5, 2009, got the wheels in my head reeling. The feature story was about a critical time in the recyling business. Towns across the country are indeed conscious of our throwaway society today and are trying to recycle products such as paper, glass, plastic, even the plastic bags that seem to accumulate like wire coat hangers. The market is down and business is slow, so now there is a concern about continuing the recycling.

As a child, I didn't know what happened to the red wagon full of newspapers which I took to the junk yard every Saturday morning for the ten cents that would indeed get me into the Saturday matinee at one of the three neighborhood movie houses. I knew that could mean a good movie and another adventure of Buck Rogers.

Most families, before the development of oil heaters, used some of the old newspapers to start the coal fire each morning, raking the old burnt coal ashes into a separate container. Then on collection days, the ashes were picked up and dumped into the back of a horse-drawn trash wagon. They would be stored and used to sprinkle streets for traction following ice and snow storms. There wasn't any waste to that heating source.

We saved electricity also when Mother hung her laundry, in those days it was called "the wash," outside on a clothes line to dry. In some communities today, clothes lines are forbidden. I still miss that wonderful aroma on the sheets. (My mother often related the story when she was a child's nurse. She said she was taking care of a doctor's children and as an extra chore, had to do some ironing. The doctor scolded her when he saw her ironing the sheets. He told her that it destroyed the healthful effects of the sun on the sheets.

A neighbor had a rain barrel under the rainspout to catch the runoff and used the water for laundry and that weekly shampoo. My friend's mother said the water was softer and she didnt have to use as much laundry soap. It also was good for the hair and made it soft and shiny.
During WWII we were asked to save our metal, put it in a separate container. This included not only cans, but toothaste tubes and other things that might have come in tubes at that time and it would be picked up by a separate trash wagon. The tops and bottoms of all metal cans were removed, slid into the can then placed on the floor to stamp flat. To get that last drop of toothpaste from a tube, we would roll it up as we squeezed the paste out. The tube would have to be unrolled and flattened before putting it in the trash can. The construction of today's cans doesn't always make that last step possible. Old rubber tires were taken to the junk yard to some how become new tires or the rubber used to make retreads. I still remember revulcanized tires. Do you?

When I got married in the mid-fifties, our first washer, and even our second one we bought 12 years later, were set up with a suds saver. The wash water would be pumped into a second tub, and coud be pulled back into the washer for the second load of laundry. (A few times I forgot and started a fresh load of wash without drawing the saved water back in. When the floor got flooded, someone always shouted "get out the canoe, Mom, the sudsaver tub is overflowing"

When we moved into our home here in Havertown, Pennsylvania, the Salvation Army used to come through the town every month and collect the newspapers. I had a special spot on my enclosed porch where there they were stored at the end of the day. The men would carry them off to the truck. Sadly, one time at my home, the dog thought they were stealing something and he jumped through the glass door, scared the bejeebers out of the two men carrying the papers. Fortunately, they braved it and came back again the next month.

Most people in town just threw their papers in the trash. When my Girl Scout Troop wanted to travel to New York to visit with another Girl Scout Troop, each girl raised enough money just collecting newspspers from friends and neighbors that we would take to a junk yard in a nearby town. Since the town wasn't recycling yet, as I drove through the community, and noticed tied up newspapers sitting on top of the trash cans, I would take them home to add to the papers the girls had collected. The girls brought their bags of papers to my home, each bag was weighed and the scout was credited with the pounds collected. When it looked like I would have a carload, the girls helped me load up the car, a Volkswagon bus. Some times we had so much paper loaded, we had to take the girls in separate vehicles to see where the paper was going and could see how much money it made. Most of the girls earned enough money to pay for her complete fare. At that time, also, newspapers were just put out with the regular trash so we were doing a service to the community as well.

Now recycling is accepted as the thing to do, but it has been going on for a lifetime. I must admit, Melrose is more advanced than Philadelphia and/or Havertown. It wasn't until the first of this year, that we are finally starting to collect all recycling on the same day. For the past two or three years, we had paper on one day, plastic on a second day, glass the third day and cans a fourth day. Now one day a week does all. But after watching that "Night Line" broadcast, I wonder how long this will be the thing to do?

Yes, I guess it is true, what goes around does come around again.


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