Trash Talk

Raven

 

A swirl of ravens hung in the sky like a smudge of oily, noisy smoke. They dodged the greasy smog of burning tires to land amidst the hellish landscape of scattered fires and battered refrigerators. There, they would fight each other for scraps of rotting meat and bits of bright glass.

Above, between the scattered debris of lost and flapping garbage, my father would back the yellow Lark Studebaker towards the gaping maw which marked the beginning of our town’s dump. Always, he would pause before gunning the engine and racing backwards towards the unbearably abrupt end of the earth. He would leer over the dark seats at my brother and I, and muse out loud about “that poor fellow” who hadn’t managed to stop in time and whose battered car shot over the edge and off. . . out…out into emptiness.

“You can still see the battered car down there. It took them days to get those two little kids out of the back seat–one of them lived nearly the whole time. . . .”

Sometimes, in my dreams, I ride the skies with the ravens. Above the sharp precipice of the dump, I lose my ability to fly, tumbling down screaming into the eerie elephantine smoke and onto the heaps of twisted metal and broken glass. A single piece of heavy equipment bears down on me, pushing mounds of dirt and rotting things in front of it. It shuts off and, in the silence, the last thing I see is a tattered black plastic bag lurching sickly along the ground blindly groping for my face.

Then the ravens scream again. . .

My vision of hell was formed at the Garberville Dump. Sometimes the good old days weren’t so good.

__________________________________

Tip of the hat to Ernie and his readers (see the comments in this post). They pushed me into writing this post that had been haunting me for a long time.

Photo from a book by David Goodnow, an amazing wildlife photographer: How Birds fly.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

34 comments

  • A lot of kids had that same nightmare about the dump.

    Two South Fork High School coaches, McKamy and Yamgata, went to the dump, backed up to the west edge, (the straight off, no stop one) they unloaded their trash, got back into the truck and tried to leave but they still had the truck in reverse. Yep, they backed right over and landed upside-down in the soft garbage. They weren’t hurt, and only had a few scratches. But having to face a school full of kids the next day must have been humiliating!

    “Soo… How does it feel to be uncoordinated coach?”

  • A lot of kids had that same nightmare about the dump.

    Two South Fork High School coaches, McKamy and Yamgata, went to the dump, backed up to the west edge, (the straight off, no stop one) they unloaded their trash, got back into the truck and tried to leave but they still had the truck in reverse. Yep, they backed right over and landed upside-down in the soft garbage. They weren’t hurt, and only had a few scratches. But having to face a school full of kids the next day must have been humiliating!

    “Soo… How does it feel to be uncoordinated coach?”

  • I’m sure those poor guys weren’t the only ones. Eventually, someone put a log or something (maybe a pipe) across there but for many years, it was just a straight shot to hell!

  • I’m sure those poor guys weren’t the only ones. Eventually, someone put a log or something (maybe a pipe) across there but for many years, it was just a straight shot to hell!

  • Fortunately my Dad, also a South Fork coach, never backed off. I would always love a trip to the dump. Nothing like chucking off glass bottles and watching them explode down in the gully. We went to Eel Rock more than Garberville. I also remember my dad sighting in his deer rifle at the dump as the dog whined and scratched to get out of the truck. He was a bird dog and wanted to get whatever was shot. Only later in life (my first career was in solid waste) did I realize how wasteful we were. Oh well…

  • Fortunately my Dad, also a South Fork coach, never backed off. I would always love a trip to the dump. Nothing like chucking off glass bottles and watching them explode down in the gully. We went to Eel Rock more than Garberville. I also remember my dad sighting in his deer rifle at the dump as the dog whined and scratched to get out of the truck. He was a bird dog and wanted to get whatever was shot. Only later in life (my first career was in solid waste) did I realize how wasteful we were. Oh well…

  • Today, the dump isn’t terrifying or exciting for my kids–it’s just nasty and boring. The other day, I got scolded by my oldest for tossing a stray bottle into the recycling bin–like a spray of solid glass, the broken bits fountained up and went everywhere.

    I think I embarrassed him.

  • Today, the dump isn’t terrifying or exciting for my kids–it’s just nasty and boring. The other day, I got scolded by my oldest for tossing a stray bottle into the recycling bin–like a spray of solid glass, the broken bits fountained up and went everywhere.

    I think I embarrassed him.

  • Kym… The most excitement I had at the old dump (other than nearly falling in) was tossing a big old TV over the edge. Quite an explosion. It was pretty awful and I wonder what is still left down there. I’m glad that Lark had good brakes.

  • Kym… The most excitement I had at the old dump (other than nearly falling in) was tossing a big old TV over the edge. Quite an explosion. It was pretty awful and I wonder what is still left down there. I’m glad that Lark had good brakes.

  • I can’t imagine buying a house on top of that. I wonder what horrible poisons ooze out of the ground there.

    I also wonder why doing things like smashing glass is so satisfying. I know it’s bad. I never do it on purpose but I completely feel the suction. It’s like popping bubble wrap.

  • I can’t imagine buying a house on top of that. I wonder what horrible poisons ooze out of the ground there.

    I also wonder why doing things like smashing glass is so satisfying. I know it’s bad. I never do it on purpose but I completely feel the suction. It’s like popping bubble wrap.

  • That raven is the ugliest bird I’ve seen with the exception of the turkey buzzards who land in the Redwood tree in my backyard during calving season. Those buzzards have a huge wingspan, with an ominous heavy flapping sound…pretty scary.

    I think I only went to the dump once when I lived there, and I didn’t have a wicked evil father scaring me to death about it, thank goodness!

  • That raven is the ugliest bird I’ve seen with the exception of the turkey buzzards who land in the Redwood tree in my backyard during calving season. Those buzzards have a huge wingspan, with an ominous heavy flapping sound…pretty scary.

    I think I only went to the dump once when I lived there, and I didn’t have a wicked evil father scaring me to death about it, thank goodness!

  • Aww, Dad’s not wicked. He just has a wicked sense of humor and I knew with my head he was teasing but not all of me believed my head.

  • Aww, Dad’s not wicked. He just has a wicked sense of humor and I knew with my head he was teasing but not all of me believed my head.

  • Wicked and evil in a nice sort of way, of course. 😀

  • Wicked and evil in a nice sort of way, of course. 😀

  • I can’t imagine buying a house on top of that. I wonder what horrible poisons ooze out of the ground there.

    I think Foster City is built on landfill isn’t it as well as much of the bay area? My sister lived in SJ and at one time was digging a hole to plant in her backyard and hit something…it was a TIRE. When you think of how EVERYTHING used to get thrown in the dump, how nasty to think of planting a vegetable garden over a landfill site.

    What I remember from dumps of old is the smell of old garbage. Not even rotting…just ICK. And the seagulls.

    For those who are not so concerned about the environment, I saw a documentary with William Rathje, a self-proclaimed “garbologist”. He took a “core sample” from landfill and brought up a newspaper from 1954 along with an intact hotdog and other lovely stuff. Without air and sun, it just sits there. Yuck!

    And Kym, for some reason, crows and ravens have become my halloween decor of choice. They intrigue me even more than black cats.

  • I can’t imagine buying a house on top of that. I wonder what horrible poisons ooze out of the ground there.

    I think Foster City is built on landfill isn’t it as well as much of the bay area? My sister lived in SJ and at one time was digging a hole to plant in her backyard and hit something…it was a TIRE. When you think of how EVERYTHING used to get thrown in the dump, how nasty to think of planting a vegetable garden over a landfill site.

    What I remember from dumps of old is the smell of old garbage. Not even rotting…just ICK. And the seagulls.

    For those who are not so concerned about the environment, I saw a documentary with William Rathje, a self-proclaimed “garbologist”. He took a “core sample” from landfill and brought up a newspaper from 1954 along with an intact hotdog and other lovely stuff. Without air and sun, it just sits there. Yuck!

    And Kym, for some reason, crows and ravens have become my halloween decor of choice. They intrigue me even more than black cats.

  • Beachcomber, Ravens (and crows) have a harshness that black cats don’t. They aren’t evil but they are cold and determined like fate.

  • Beachcomber, Ravens (and crows) have a harshness that black cats don’t. They aren’t evil but they are cold and determined like fate.

  • Fantastic post and I love the raven picture!

  • Fantastic post and I love the raven picture!

  • The photos online I took that out of are gorgeous!

  • The photos online I took that out of are gorgeous!

  • The dump gives me dread, too, ever since the old Chevy died on me there in the middle of a busy Saturday. However, I have to speak up in defense of ravens. The corvidae family are the most adaptable and intelligent of birds. Our resident pair have a definite sense of humor and fascinating behavior. They’re skilled mimics and capable of outrageous aeronautic feats (ever see them barrel roll?). OK, they scavenge carnage and compost, but fear them Nevermore! Thanks for the story and the link, Kym.

  • The dump gives me dread, too, ever since the old Chevy died on me there in the middle of a busy Saturday. However, I have to speak up in defense of ravens. The corvidae family are the most adaptable and intelligent of birds. Our resident pair have a definite sense of humor and fascinating behavior. They’re skilled mimics and capable of outrageous aeronautic feats (ever see them barrel roll?). OK, they scavenge carnage and compost, but fear them Nevermore! Thanks for the story and the link, Kym.

  • Maybe my problem is not a close enough look at them. I’ve never had a pair stick around. Flocks of crows and occasionally ravens, too, fly through calling insults and staring disdainfully at us but none like the look of us enough to make the place their home.

  • Maybe my problem is not a close enough look at them. I’ve never had a pair stick around. Flocks of crows and occasionally ravens, too, fly through calling insults and staring disdainfully at us but none like the look of us enough to make the place their home.

  • The old dump, I remember it well. As well I should. From 1958 to 1965 I hauled thousands of loads of garbage to the dump. My dad, Walter Rodoni owned the local garbage business from the early 1950’s to the late 1960’s. As I recall only once did our truck end up in the dump. Dad was alone. He wasn’t injured. There was a concrete block buried at the edge of the dump to butt up against for off loading. But his brakes failed and he jumped the block. In the 1950’s he also raised hogs at the dump site. He fed them garbage saved from the restaurants. Occasionally some of his hogs escaped. Wild hogs in Humboldt and Mendocino counties are probably descendents of Dad’s liberated pigs. I have resided in Minnesota since 1973. At age 97 Dad is still living and doing quite well. He’s probably still alive due to the exercise he got carrying garbage cans. Back then people were not required to curb their weekly accumulation of garbage. He lives on a ranch near Sunol. Dave Rodoni class of ’60.

  • The old dump, I remember it well. As well I should. From 1958 to 1965 I hauled thousands of loads of garbage to the dump. My dad, Walter Rodoni owned the local garbage business from the early 1950’s to the late 1960’s. As I recall only once did our truck end up in the dump. Dad was alone. He wasn’t injured. There was a concrete block buried at the edge of the dump to butt up against for off loading. But his brakes failed and he jumped the block. In the 1950’s he also raised hogs at the dump site. He fed them garbage saved from the restaurants. Occasionally some of his hogs escaped. Wild hogs in Humboldt and Mendocino counties are probably descendents of Dad’s liberated pigs. I have resided in Minnesota since 1973. At age 97 Dad is still living and doing quite well. He’s probably still alive due to the exercise he got carrying garbage cans. Back then people were not required to curb their weekly accumulation of garbage. He lives on a ranch near Sunol. Dave Rodoni class of ’60.

  • Dave,

    I loved your story about your dad ending up in the old dump. I’ll ask my parents if they remember your dad.

    I’ve eaten a few of those wild pigs and you must thank your dad for me. They are the best meat ever!

  • Dave,

    I loved your story about your dad ending up in the old dump. I’ll ask my parents if they remember your dad.

    I’ve eaten a few of those wild pigs and you must thank your dad for me. They are the best meat ever!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *