Here in Portland there are lots of things that are different from Salinas. One of these is a form of recycling that we call Stuff on the Sidewalk.
When people are moving and they have stuff they don’t want anymore, they don’t always drive to Goodwill or save it up and have a garage sale. They just put it in a box or bag, walk it to the sidewalk, and leave it there. Then people walking by go through and take what they want. It is a perfect way to move stuff from where it isn’t needed to where it is.
It sounds like an awful mess, and sometimes it is. Sometimes people spread the stuff all over. But usually people put things back in the box, leaving the rest for the next person.
We have used Stuff on the Sidewalk, too. When we first moved to Portland, we had boxes and boxes of… boxes. And papers and bubble wrap. We bundled it up, put it out, and voila! It was gone, heading off to help someone else move to their new home. We have given away office and art supplies, dishes, and clothes this way.
We have found stuff, too. Several of our pint glasses and a few small plates came to us from boxes on corners. I found my new purse in a box, practically new and a lovely red leather.
The other day, Auntie Bridgett and I were headed for Yen’s Salon to get haircuts, and we saw a small pile of really old coloring books sitting neatly in the parkway grass. I picked them up. Published in 1948 and 1952, they were used by two little girls named Karen and Joyce Hegland, in 1952. I figure that Karen, who could have been about 10 in 1952, is about 76 years old by now.
Personal history is my favorite thing!
As we waited our turn for haircuts, I looked more closely at the books. They didn’t just have pictures to color, but poems about holidays and seasons (including St. Swithens’ Day), illustrated stories to color, and are a window onto the style and manners of the time. I am still not sure what I will use these lovely artifacts for, but I know they have found a home with me.
A Poem for St. Swithens’s Day
If it should rain St. Swithens’ Day
T’will rain all summer long
At least that’s what our elders say,
Of course, they could be wrong.