Getting down in the dumps can be a good thing


You know, nobody has good dumps anymore. You know, where people dump their trash.

I can remember a time when almost everyone that lived in the country had a big ditch or a washed out place on their land where they dumped their garbage. Back then it was a prerequisite when you bought land.

“Well, Mr. Smith,” the conversation would begin. “This here is a real nice place you’ve got. Plenty of pasture land, gobs of water, and the price you’re askin’ is half of what everybody else around here wants. But, I’m sorry. I’m gonna have to pass. You just don’t have a gully so’s I can dump my trash.”

You know, you would think the gully would finally fill up, but that never happened. That’s because nature, in the form of boys, kept the dumps down to a tolerable level.

That’s right, boys; nature’s recyclers.

You see, a dump will draw a boy to it faster than a cow patty draws flies. I remember when I was a kid, my cousin Coy and I made regular rounds to the dumps in our area, and I don’t remember a time that we came home empty handed.

People used to throw good stuff away back then, you know. Now they just have a garage sale. My cousin Coy and I would come home with some pretty good stuff.

Once we outfitted ourselves from Mr. Dozier’s dump with enough army stuff to start a war. And talk about bottles; whoo wee, man was there plenty of bottles. We didn’t take these home; we just busted them right there.

We’d line them up and chunk other bottles at them ‘till they were reduced to a pile of shards. BB guns were good to use on bottles, too. Well, some bottles. There were a few that were BB proof, and would send that little metal ball back at us with almost as much velocity as when it left the gun.

(No, we didn’t put our eyes out.)

The most memorable adventure I had at a dump was when I was with my dad. This was my first trip to a big city dump. I thought I had died and gone to garbage heaven. As far as the eye could see, there were mountains and mountains of trash.

“Wow,” I said. “Would you look at that?”

“I don’t have to look,” said Dad. “I can smell it.”

It was kind of gamey.

“Hey Rusty,” he said. “Did you ever find any rawhide to make that Indian drum you and Coy wanted to build?”

Anyone who knew my dad can tell you that he loved a good laugh and had the uncanny ability to see somethin’ funny even before it happened, so he tried to help the situation along, so that the conclusion turned out humorous.

“No sir,” I answered. “Why?”

“Well, look over there,” he said. I looked and there was a dead cow. It must have been there for awhile, because she was pretty bloated.

“Wow!” I said. “If I had a knife, I could cut a piece of that cow’s hide off, couldn’t I?”

“Well shoot,” said Dad. “Don’t let it be said that I ever spoiled anyone’s fun,” and he pulled out his pocketknife. “Here ya go. Have at it.”

“Gee, thanks!” I exclaimed, and grabbed the knife and took off. I decided that the white belly would make a pretty drumhead, so I would start there. I opened the knife and stabbed it into the cow. Suddenly there was a hissin’ sound and air started gushing out of the hole I had made. My head was engulfed in a cloud of the most putrid air I had ever known.

I started clawin’ the air tryin’ to get away. I stumbled back toward the truck, stoppin’ only long enough to heave my toenails up.

Through my tears, I could see my dad back at the truck. He was in tears, too. He was on his hands and knees. I’ve never seen anyone laughin’ so hard in all my young life. He wouldn’t even look at me while we were goin’ home. If he did he would bust into a laughin’ fit again.

When we got home, he related the story in grody detail to Mom. As he told the story, he noticed that she wasn’t laughin’. As a matter-of-fact, she didn’t find it funny at all. Slowly he stopped laughin’, too. Now, it was my turn to smile. Because, nobody, and I mean nobody, picks on my momma’s boy.


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