Visit a Dump in New England

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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
When in New England, do as the New
Englanders do...Visit a Dump!
By James H. Hyde
Editor of NewEnglandTimes.Com and ExploringNewEngland.Com

For those of you in search of experiencing a uniquely New England tradition,
you simply must look for the
dump in whatever town you visit. The dumps
I’m talking about are not your run-of-the-mill, malodorous landfills.  

New England dumps haul that stuff to a regional center. The rest is put in
bins for the public to take.

In fact, most Northern New England dumps are magical, mystical places
where tourist and native alike go shoulder to shoulder in search of
replenishment of their eBay inventories. And nowhere but in Northern New
England is the adage “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” more true.  
The dumps up here take all kinds of attic space-takers and instead of tossing
them, allow the public to dump dive.

Amongst all of the free items, there may be the perfect lampshade to put the
final touch on your feng shui living room. If you’re into things Japanese, my
wife brought home a tiny Japanese garden complete with sand and rake. Of
course, one needs fingers the size of pencils to use it, but hey, it’s free, and
“free” is a powerful word.

In a very practical way a New England dump is a thrift shop without a cash
register, although there may be a cash register there for the taking. And there
have been any number of times when my wife brings home expensive
clothing, never worn and with the original price tags still on the garments.
Those usually wind up in her eBay inventory.

While one can happen upon something useful, most of what’s there is junk.
There are the roller blades with no wheels, shirts with a sleeve missing,
handlebars for a bike, a mini-pool table with no balls or cues, one ski from a
pair, air hockey with no puck, a baseball mitt with the web missing and a line
of exercise equipment and videos no longer usable or viewable. There’s the
waffle maker full of crusty, burnt Play-Doh, and the frying pan in which
someone left an unidentifiable food on high for an hour.

All of this leads me to some of my wife’s collections. They come in phases.
She sets her mind on finding something and she will find it.  Truly, she has
come home with some real beauts, the most confusing of which was an old
church organ with the volume stuck on loud.  She nearly brought the house
down—literally -- when she first played it.

Periodically, search phases or patterns emerge. For a long time, chandeliers
were in vogue. Some were put together by artists who clearly weren’t artists
but gave it a try anyway. These givers of light—most stripped of the
necessary electric lines -- she’d promise to convert to candlestick holders.
Never seemed to get around to it.  They came in all shapes and sizes, the
tolerable ones wound up on the back porch, the “what-were-they-thinking”
ones in the garage and a favored few under our bed.  Strangely, none ever
found love with a ceiling. When we moved, they did not.

The bottle phase brought in what turned out to be a very colorful and diverse
collection of old bottles for window dressing. That was good.

Of all of them, though, the exercise phase was the shortest, ending when I
almost went through a wall and the machine tried to burn the house down.

I had been in the market for a treadmill for some time. My wife found one at
the dump, brought it in the house and hooked it up.  I put on my exercise
gear (all but the sneakers obtained from the dump—I didn’t have a top so I
used a Jogbra; size extra large) and was all ready to go. Like the organ stuck
on loud, the treadmill was stuck on cheetah. I ran as fast as I could, but
wound up being thrown across the room. That’s when the smoke began to
rise from the heart-rate monitor.

We unplugged the machine to no avail, so she, our son and I hauled the thing
outside and were treated to a fireworks show.

While we’ve had our share of “misfires,” she’s found a good many Tiffany
artifacts, Steuben glass, mats for the car, and we haven’t bought clothing in
the last five years.  She sees things I could never find, but I suffer from
“refrigerator blindness,” a disease that affects husbands. “Honey, where’s the
mustard?” “Check the door.” Sure enough, there it was. “Find it”? she’d huff.
“Yes,” I’d answer sheepishly. “Open your eyes from now on.” Little does she
know it’s all a game that guys play. Here’s a hint: It’s easier to ask than it is to
look, so if you’re a married male, play stupid when you open the fridge and

That said, when you come up here on your New England getaway, make
sure to check out the dump.  It is very much worth the visit. You never know
when you might find a shoe sole worn into something that bears a striking
resemblance to Elvis—hello eBay!

About the author:

James H. Hyde is Co-Founder and Editor of New England and
editor of
Exploring New England. He has served as Managing Editor of three
magazines, written two syndicated columns, was Editor of "The Desktop," a
newsletter about desktop publishing and is co-author of "The Plain English
Guide to Desktop Publishing."
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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