Saturday, November 15, 2008


I took this in my parents' yard last weekend. The colors were brilliant that day. Just to the right of what you see here is where we used to keep our trash barrel, where we burned our trash. Oh yes we did.

I remember a time when we burned trash in a rusted out barrel. In the back yard.

Chesapeake Bay Children? 30 or so years ago, products didn't come in plastic containers nor did you need an act of Congress, the strength of Hercules and the patience of Job to open things up. (Have you tried opening stuff up lately? Something as simple as a package of batteries requires heavy equipment and TNT to get into.)

There was no such thing as plastic grocery bags. Drinks came in glass bottles or aluminum cans. Milk was in a cardboard carton or a glass container. Nobody had printer cartridges, plastic trays from microwave dinners, an infinite number of plastic McDonald's Happy Meal figurines that make you want to beat your brains out especially when you step on them in the middle of the night trying to make your way to the bathroom EVEN THOUGH YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOW 10 AND 13 AND HAVEN'T LOOKED AT THOSE THINGS IN 5 YEARS.

Pardon me. I got distracted. The stuff I'm stepping on is a topic for another day. Yes, it's a post entitled: Chesapeake Bay Woman Drowns in Clutter.

Drinking water came out of the hose, the spigot or a water fountain. My grandmother would have busted a gut laughing if she knew the day would arrive when people paid money for drinking water poured into a plastic bottle and sold at prices rivaling a gallon of gasoline.

No, back then, my mother came home from the store with one or possibly two paper bags filled with some fruit, some vegetables and some meat. Milk, bread and eggs. Flour. Sugar. Most refuse could be burned or disposed of locally (where disposed of locally = my grandmother used to take the glass bottles down to the shoreline and smash them and anything that happened to be left over went to the dump).

Those same paper grocery bags were used as garbage bags, and they performed their job admirably. You didn't need hefty-sized plastic bags that gripped the garbage can, cinched up easily or smelled like a rose bush.

I'm not saying we here in Mathews were the only ones who burned trash. It's simply not true. I'm also not saying that people still don't burn trash. But it's definitely a rarity, whereas just a couple decades ago it was the norm.

Do you remember people burning trash? Did you used to drink from a hose? Do you have so much clutter in your house that you want to blow it up and start all over?

Sorry. That last question belongs in the yet-to-be-written Drowning in Clutter post.


TSannie said...

Is that poison ivy?????

Grandma J said...

Not only did we burn trash, but in the early 50's post war tract homes in Southern Californiawere built by the tens of know, the good old GI Bill.

Well, they all came with an incinerator in the backyard. It was a concrete vessel with a smoke stack and two iron doors. One to put all your trash and garbage in, and one at the bottom to scoop out all the residue of what wouldn't burn. Any night of the week you could smell stuff burning. Once they were outlawed along with leaded gas, the smog level in CA went way down. I don't think you can burn anything anymore. Here in Texas they have controled burns.

I love that picture!

Ellen said...

My best friend had an incinerator in her garage - just for burning trash.

O how I do remember those days. Drinking out of the hose so you didn't go into the house all dirty when all you wanted was a drink. Burning leaves in the fall. We had garbage pick up for compostable things and trash pick up for every thing else. But I have to admit, we did drink spring water that was delivered in gallon sized glass bottles that fit into a heavy cardboard cartons that were reused.

Any way, thanks for the mental trip down memory lane.

Annie said...

The answers are yes, yes, and yes.

We all used to burn rubbish in the back yard..not allowed to do it now..I think there is prob a permanent fire ban where we are at the moment because of the drought..

yes, we always drank out of the hose..

and yes to the last question from a post that hasn't been written yet...except I am not game to say so in case the house does burn down, and then they will wonder who did it!!

Anonymous said...

My in-laws in Central PA still burn trash in a rusted-out barrel. You can do that in the boonies.

We, too, burned trash when I was a wee lass in PA. My mom got tired of the barrel, though, and instructed my dad to build an incinerator from cinder blocks. We could burn HUGE piles of trash that way! Every once in a while, he would remove one side, hop on the tractor with the loader, scoop it out, and haul it up to our own personal DUMP site, which was on our land up on the ridge.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

TSA - Although it looks like poison ivy, I don't think it is. However, not very far from here there is a pine tree that is infamous for its poison ivy...just ask Chesapeake Bay Son.

GJ - An incinerator...I was wondering how the less rural folks handled it. Fascinating.

Ellen - If I only had a nickle for every time I drank out of the hose growing up...and I didn't grow an extra ear or anything! These days we actually think twice before drinking from the kitchen sink. (But that has more to do with the quality of our well water than anything else. I think?)

Annie - I'll have to start working on the clutter post. I actually could start an entire separate blog on that topic alone. (She says, as she glances across the mountains of paperwork scattered across her bedroom floor.)

Soup - You had all the fun up there in PA. Incinerator + Tractor with loader + Personal Dump = Chesapeake Bay Woman's idea of one fun Saturday (and I am being serious...).

tj said...

...Pffft! :o) Do I know of anyone who burns trash, remember the Uncle I told you about that uses one side of a Q-tip for both ears and saves it on his kitchen windowsill for the next day? Yeah, that one. He still burns his trash. When we go to visit him, he has two containers; one for trash to go to the dumpster at the local cafe where he drinks coffee every morning because he's too, um, frugal to pay for trash service and the other container is for "burnables"... If you dare say anything about what he is doing to the environment he will quickly blow you off and mumble somethin' along the lines of "environment schmironment, *@!#%&!"

...I got a tickle this past summer because I came across a garden hose in the store that was "safe to drink from"... I drank from our garden hose as a kid and still do today and I'm okay. Aren't I? Please tell me I am CBW... :o/

...Great photo as always! What I wouldn't give for that picket fence! Mmm mm, mercy...

...Blessings... :o)

Mental P Mama said...

I remember all these and more. I remember not having a microwave. I remember tin foil containers that my mother would wash and reuse for ages. I remember the milk carton by the kitchen sink to collect all the food waste and the coffee can for the bacon grease. That bacon grease would then be turned into some amazing beans, cornbread or whatever you wanted. I am on such an old lady rant that I have sprouted a sweat. Gah.

Autumnforest said...

Oh yeah, I remember burning trash and my mom (depression era raised) would go around the house taking the individual trash cans and emptying them into the fireplace and burning them. I came home from school one day and my mom's face was all blistered, her eyebrows burned away, the entire beautiful 200+-year-old fireplace blackened. She had dumped a bathroom can into the fireplace and it had an antiperspirant can in it! She still thought it was worth it because we lived in the county and not the city major of Fairfax, so we had to pay $100 a month to have men come and pick up our trash (this was in the 60s!)

Karen Deborah said...

I love that picture and that post! I need to quit spending money on trash bags. I don't know when I decided the trash can had to be clean. Ridiculous. Water was never better than out of the hose. We had the same grocery list and actually COOKED. the simple life. I am glad I have lived it because we my in the near future NEED these skills again.
as for the clutter--Garage sale.

Karen Deborah said...

ps NEVER burn poison ivy. it gets into your lungs. the smoke can break you out. just in case. What is that pretty red plant? Just the suggestion of poison has me freaked.

big hair envy said...

Am I the ONLY person in the free world that STILL uses a burn barrel?? Thanks for the reminder CBW. I need to locate a new one....mine has gotten a bit rusty:)

It was great to see you and CBDaughter today!!! Sorry I left the auction too late to stop by. We WILL get together soon:) As I type, I'm having a glass of wine in your honor:)

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

tj - I'm so glad to hear from you. I worry when I don't. In spite of your hose-drinking, you are more than OK. You're one of a kind and very dear to me.

MPM - To this DAY it takes me weeks to throw out perfectly good bacon grease. I also have a hard time throwing out a tin pie plate - you can rinse it and use it forever. Part of this whole "I can't throw it out" syndrome may well also explain the reason for the clutter I'm drowning in...

autumn - There is no smell quite like that of burning or singed eyebrows or hair....I know this all too well. Thank you for reminding me that my parents also burned trash in the fireplace. We had a Fisher Stove too that they'd toss paper into (and create heat so intense you had to move to the next county for relief).

kd - I hope you're feeling better. You're onto something with the garage sale...and I'd heard that about poison ivy being burned. I do not seem to have a sensitivy to it; Chesapeake Bay Son can just talk about it and he breaks out.

BHE - Good to see you too. Hope you enjoy your fiestaware! Next time, stop on in and we'll have a planning meeting to discuss details of the BlogapaRuralLooza.

Golden To Silver Val said...

The best water in the world came out of our garden hose and the hand pump by the barn. We burned everything that would burn in our burn barrel and the glass and cans went behind the garage. Pop and milk bottles were glass and returnable. When the pile got big enough, dad would load it up and take it to the back of our farm and dump it and then cover it over with dirt with the tractor. Our garbage was handled like this....cats and dogs got the table scraps they would eat and the chickens took care of the rest. Chickens are quite efficient little garbage disposals. The cats and dogs lived long lives so it never hurt their health any.
We haven't been able to burn in this area for over 25yrs now and thats including leaves.

Anonymous said...

MPM and CBW - I washed and reused foil baking pans several times this weekend - the first time around they held baked mac & cheese, second time the burgers that were coming off of the grill, and who knows what they'll hold next.

My grandma used to wash and save bread bags, styrofoam plates, plastic utensils, and we thought it was silly, but if she were alive today, we'd be praising her for being "Green." Living through the depression will do that to a woman.