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Shorty’s Worms

I saw a lot of long faces at the landfill today.  It didn’t appear that people wanted to be where they were.  It was as if going to the landfill was something they would rather pay someone else to do.

 I was able to get my cardboard and plastic through the slot provided and when I turned to go, there was a fat Rhode Island hen pecking the ground, looking for scraps.  I asked the county lady that takes your money about the red hen and how long she had been living at the dump.  “A long time,” she said.  “Do you collect her eggs,” I asked her.  “No,” she answered, “but the guys at recycling might know about it”.

 A week later, I returned to try to take a picture of the old red hen at the landfill, and couldn’t find her.  It seems that she had been “re-cycled.”  The landfill lady told me: “A nice looking family had the hen in the back of their car when they left.  They told me she was going to a good home.”

Long, long ago, the garbage dump was in the same patch of woods and held a lot of secrets and some booty if we were lucky in picking.  We only lived about a mile away from the dump and would pedal there on our bikes.
Bob Arvine was our garbage man, so we didn’t have to haul ours.  He had a 90 pound hunting bow, which none of us kids could pull and many trophies.

There was an anti-aircraft battery south of Vashon, Charlie Battery it was called and the Vashon Eagles use their old mess hall for their clubhouse.  When the army had open house, they gave us ice cream and let us take turns sitting in the gunners seat of the quad-50 machine gun.  A soldier would start the Wisconsin engine behind the gun and we could track the four barrels up and down and back and forth looking for enemy aircraft, imitating the sound of a machine gun: “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh.”

The soldiers lived in tents and had to eat c-rations for three days every month for practice and they threw a lot of their rations away for us kids to find in the dump.  There was pemmican, a kind of fruit cake and canned beans, chocolate, 5 cigarettes, a few sheets of toilet paper and who knows what all.  The c-rations were easy to find at the dump because all the packages were green.

Shorty  Milborn was a short old man in bib overalls and always had chewing tobacco drooling down his chin. Us kids would see Shorty at the dump all the time. Shorty was a handyman and  had a goat farm and was married to 4 Indians, never at the same time.  Lucy was the name of one of Shorty’s wives.  There were two or three old wrecked cars out in Shorty’s field half buried in the dirt.  We would love it when Dad would stop on the way home from church so we could watch Shorty’s goats play king of the mountain on the car tops. One goat would jump on the hood and climb to the car roof where he would assume the position of battle with his  head down, waiting for would be takers to try to dislodge him from the top of the mountain.

Shorty  was saving instant coffee to feed his worms and make them more lively for sale.   We had respect for old island characters, so when Shorty ordered us kids to give him all the instant coffee we found, we did it. The pemmican was the best of all.  It came in a sealed can, guaranteed safe.  All the GI rations came in green packages, so they were easy to find.  One had to me careful not to walk too far out in the ditch.