Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Antique/Collectible Dumpster Diving Find

I normally walk a dumpster diving route around my neighborhood every Sunday evening. One Sunday, in 2008, it was the last day of a month - when I am always worn down from surviving the previous month on a meager, monthly veterans disability pension check. On that Sunday in 2008, sheer exhaustion from too many years of months ending with me being penniless kept me from leaving my house.

The next day, the first of the month, my guv'ment pension pay was in the bank; and I walked over to my apartment/townhouse rental office to pay my rent. Instead of walking right to the rental office, I detoured through the alley behind it, which is a section of my regular Sunday dumpster diving route, so that I could look up and down that alley to see if any dumpsters looked worth checking out - even though I knew that the dumpsters had been emptied, as usual, earlier that Monday morning. It was a left turn into the alley towards the rental office, but I noticed some red lettering on a cardboard box in a dumpster that was up the alley to the right. Something about that box's red lettering attracted me to it, so I went up to see what may be in the dumpster; I had been surprised to see stuff already piled that high into the dumpster and didn't expect much; but I thought that the red was on a type of box that often contained good stuff thrown away.

It may have been one of the guardian angels who have, now and then, mysteriously lead me to treasure troves in dumpsters I hadn't planned on diving at the time. Sometimes I just sort'a float in the direction of a dumpster without decided intention, and I score big.

Soon as I am close enough to get a good look at the red lettered box, I realize it is a lousy darned nasty greasy pizza box. But I kept walking up to the dumpster, anyways, and I looked down into the dumpster and saw about eight large photo albums. It were a tough one, but I used a big stick - from off the ground under a tree - to manage pulling all of the photo albums out from down in the bottom of that filthy green treasure chest. HOLLY COW!!! The albums were chock full of some lifetime memories, souvenirs, photographs and keepsakes of an elderly lady who had traveled all around the world. She had traveled the states, Canada, Europe and the Far East. The hearty travelin' ol' gal had actually stopped in Vietnam for several days during 1973 - right before the end of American troops fighting in that awful mess called the Vietnam War. There were both picture postcards and personal photos all through the albums - including several photos she took herself in Vietnam.


Oh, was-I-ever-dee-lighted.

While I'm at it by the dumpster, a resident of the apartment building there comes out to throw his trash away, and that neighbor man and I struck up a conversation. He tells me that the lady who owned the albums had died, and all through the previous day - the one Sunday I hadn't run that dumpster diving route in years - all through the previous day the hearty old traveling gal's young relatives had been cleaning out her apartment and had thrown massive piles of great old stuff in, onto and all around the four dumpsters there. He said elderly ladies from the apartment building had taken some antique Christmas decorations and such truck, and other persons passing by had scored some goodies too. He had spent some time there, on the previous day, looking at some of those discarded items and had passed up on keeping an album that documented the entire decades long process of turning Baltimore's rotting and falling down, ratty, wino flop house and hard core biker bar Elmers (where shootings were common and stabbings an everyday thing) harbor into the fabulous, world famous (and oft internationally copied) Baltimore Inner Harbor of today. The album had old newspaper articles and photos and who knows what in it, but it was all about the heart and history of Baltimore's revitalization. I collect Baltimore memorabilia myself, but if I had scored that album I may have had to sell it for cash to use towards the betterment of my life's circumstances - if that Baltimore Inner Harbor album had turned out to have a high auction value. And a high auction value it may have deserved - due to how many people now collect Baltimore memorabilia and there might have been museum or Baltimore City guv'ment interest in the album. Unfortunately, it probably went to the dump.

It just so happened that the neighbor man - who was talking to me - is a longtime local Indian artifact hunter. And I have wanted to discover and collect local Indians' arrowheads, stone tools and all ever since I was a little kid. The area I live in is on the shores of backwaters to the Chesapeake Bay, where Indians once thrived for thousands of years. That neighbor man, Vince, is now a buddy of mine, whom I have conversed with several times since that dumpster diving Monday. I hope to get him to take me along on an Indian artifact hunt sometime, but he's well aware that it ain't good to show anyone where he makes his best discoveries. Maybe someday I'll luck into getting a local land owner - whom Vince don't know - to allow us both onto their land where Indians lived, hunted and fished before white faces like mine showed up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and drove them earlier natives away. I'm one of the natives here now.

On that dumpster diving Monday, when I got home with that heavy load of photo albums, I sat down and began to look at every page, photo, postcard and souvenir. One album was all photos, little league sports cards, greeting cards and letters pertaining to two young boys, who were obviously the traveling lady's grandsons. As I skimmed through that album, I realized that one boy's photos etc. went from baby pictures up to his high school graduation ceremony invitation to his grandma, but the other kid's stuff ended about when he was 10-yrs-old. Figuring what that meant - bad news - I set the album aside and looked all through the others before looking all through it. Sure enough, the one lad had died when he was about 10. In the album was a newspaper article about the grandson being hit and killed by another kid on a dirt bike motorcycle, there was the child's funeral card, and, here's the most painful thing, the album contained a letter from the child to his hearty traveling grandmom thanking her for gifts sent to the child and his brother and the letter came to the grandmother on the morning of the day her grandson had died. That's a rough one. Life is hard.

At that time I was going through those items, my closest most favorite family member was a 10-yr-old boy - my great-nephew - so reading that very sad part of the grandmother's history was a deeply emotional experience to me.

I tried to find the one known remaining young grandson - of the hearty traveling old gal - by searching for him on the Internet. I wanted to send him that photo album with his and his deceased brother's pictures and little league sports cards in it.

I had the high school graduation invitation he had sent to his grandma, which contained his full name and school info, and also the grandsons' home address for where they grew up was on the return address for the envelope of the letter that the deceased 10-yr-old had sent to his grandma a day or two before he was killed in that tragic dirt bike accident. I did numerous Internet searches, on several different search engines, using various combinations of the grandson's name, his home town and school's name. I could not get one good hit at all. I'm pretty darn skilled at Internet searching, but, so sadly, I simply could not find the guy.

But, then, for all I know, that grandson could have been one of the people who threw all that good stuff out in the first place.

I will always wonder, though, was that remaining grandson of hers still alive when I searched for him or not - that I do know.

When I was going through the traveling grandmother's Far East Tour album, I get to a page marked Taipei 1972, and there was what appeared to be a folded handkerchief tucked into there. I unfold the thing and know right away I had scored a World War Two blood chit/survival chit; all pilots and other crew members of American aircraft carry survival chits during war times. Chits are written in the language of areas flown over and explain to any people on the ground - whom shot down or crashed live air crew members may encounter - that the American flier is a friend and that either his country or theirs will reward them for helping the flier to safely get to an American controlled area.

I believe that my chit is worth between 75 and 150 bucks, which makes it one of the least valuable I saw priced on the Internet.

I love owning the blood chit. It thrills me to hold it. The thing had been folded in half - in that album - for 34 years, but it still maintains the original owner's creases in it that I used as a guide to fold it up and stick it in my pocket. Then I realized that there is ink from the flier's pocketed pen on the top edges of the chit. So, I know it went up on aerial missions - folded and tucked into some flier's pocket.

Question is, was the flier who carried it killed in the war, did he survive, and how did it end up in an antique or souvenir shop in Taipei? Was the chit given to someone who had helped the flier after he had survived a crash landing or parachuted to safety? Had the flier crashed and died and the chit been removed - by some local Asian person or an enemy soldier - from a dead man's pocket? Or was the flier a lucky dude who had fought through the war to the end of it then he gave the chit as a gift to some pretty lady lover of his or had he traded it for some Oriental souvenir or given it to an Asian friend after the war?

I had some of my family's grand-kids place the folded up chit into their pocket and asked them if they could each tell - by spiritual connection to the past - whether the flier had survived the war or not, and they felt he had.

The chit has a serial number stamped on it, so I hope that someday someone may be able to locate military records for who was given which number survival chit. The way I figure it is, if an American infantry patrol is sent looking for downed fliers, and they encounter some local person or an enemy soldier who has possession of a chit, the infantry guys can find out by the serial number which flier was either killed or captured by the enemy. I keep meaning to email the History Detectives PBS TV Show about this. Guess I ought'a do it soon.

Here is a scanned image of my favorite antique/collectible dumpster diving score of all times - a World War Two blood/survival chit:

I have been trying to post this ever since January 1, 2009. The original intended title was My Favorite Dumpster Diving Find of 2008. But then I got too busy on other Internet based work, the cold shadow of debilitating depression kept me from doing all the work I could have been doing, I could not afford Internet service for awhile, but I often thought of what I wanted to write about on this Duckin' and Divin' blog.

Another problem is that when I write, I must do it as well as I can, because I am a struggling writer and photographer. I can't just pop onto web sites and let 'er rip. I may write and rewrite a blog posting for an hour or more. First thing a writer must learn is to write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite it some more, then rewrite it again. I've now been at this post for a little over five friggin hours. And I always feel good about carefully crafting my writing for the pleasure of others.

I mostly struggle against - and work hard to overcome - a bad back and a good dose of depression, plus two grave injustices incurred many moons ago but still dogging me today. One injustice began in Maine - when I was a bear hunting guide and country womens' delight, and one when I was a US Army photographer on Okinawa. Each injustice has its own set of web sites. The bad about my times in Maine:; for photos and humorous stories on the really great stuff about it:; the rotten stuff about my military experiences:; and the cool and crazy parts of them wild days on Okinawa are on this blog of mine

I struggle and work to have the truth about those injustices replace the crushing lies exposed on those web sites. I also struggle and work to be paid what I am due for those times in Maine and on Okinawa - that includes respect.

Upon my Army discharge on Nov. 18, 1971, I was a 21-yr-old man who felt he had lost the two most important aspects of his young American life = family and country. I struggle and work to completely gain them back.

Now that I might 'uv bummed ya' out some, with me personal troubles, it is only right and fair that I share this link to the best place to view and enjoy my photography and writing; it is well worth a look-see, you'll see. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Digitally Filed Photography Portfolio

To see most of my digitally filed photography portfolio, click on that link over there, to Photographs by David Robert Crews, that is near the top of the right hand side column. You can check out my photo albums on that web site.

I can't afford a commercial web site for my photography and writings, because I'm living (surviving) on a disabled veteran's pension--a very small, monthly check. Consequently, I use this set of blogs and other Internet postings, which are all linked together nicely in the right column of this blog, as a "poor man's web

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Dumpster Diver's Gift To A Catholic Priest

One time while I was dumpster diving, I found 5 pocket sized Polish language Catholic prayer and religious study books that were at least 50 years old, but in excellent shape.

I then found out that St. Rita's Catholic Church, which was right down the street from where I lived at the time in Dundalk, Maryland, had a young Polish immigrant priest named Roman working there. I walked down to see him.

Father Roman told me that he did not get to bring any kinds of books or any religious type items at all out of his country with him, because the anti-religious commies still had control back then and they would not let him leave his home country with more than what he could carry in one small suitcase, and no religious items at all.

He did not have to tell me much about the terrible way that Communism stifles religious freedoms, I already knew the basics concerning life in Communist Poland. I have always been well aware of the repressive, torturing and murdering nature of communist bullshit, "know thine enemies", and have hated them commie rats as deadly enemies my entire life. The Polish commies had made Roman's whole life as hard as they could. But they did not defeat his nor his family's religious feelings and activities. It impressed me deeply to see him talk a little about how the communists had done their best to stop him and any other Polish citizens from becoming a priest.

It was a very emotional experience for each of us.

I am not religious myself, but fairly spiritual; it was a very spiritual experience when I gave those Polish language prayer books to Father Roman.

Could it be that we dumpster divers are sometimes being guided in our work directly by the hand of a higher power?

I don't know about all that, but it was at least a mighty fine coincidence that some d-diver saved something from a landfill and delivered it to another person whom it became very important to.

Spiritually speaking, that was cool.

Friday, April 20, 2007

For Many Years, I Have Wanted To Find A Great Big Pile Of Hunting Gear and Guns In A Dumpster or Placed Out For Trash Truck Collection

There is one thing that I have never found, but which for many years I have fantasized about finding while dumpster diving, ducking down alleys, or curb crawling for other peoples' unwanted, chucked out goodies:

I want to find a great big pile of good hunting gear—including lots of legal guns.

I cannot afford to buy this stuff, but I love eating wild meat and have wanted to live off of hunting for my own wild meat ever since I was a teenage kid. It simply makes good sense to me. And I was once a bear hunting guide in Maine, so I know the woods and how to be a responsible hunter fairly well.

I have thought about this fantasy for so long and so often that I can no longer determine if this following statement is true or not:

One time I heard about an elderly, wealthy woman piling some of her ex-husband's hunting gear, along with some other really good goodies of his, out at the curbside on trash collection day. When the trash truck crew saw that pile, they immediately began going through it and putting some of it into the front passenger side of the truck. Then they joyfully saw the old gal carrying more goodies out to them. They asked her why it was there and why she was throwing it all out.

She explained to those trash truck guys that she had gotten a divorce from her husband of many years, that they had lived together in the house there for many years, and that she had "got rid of the son of a bitch” and now she was getting rid of anything of his that he had not taken with him when he had “left to go live with some bimbo.”

She then invited the overjoyed trash truck guys into her ex-husband’s former den and gave them all of his top-of-the-line stereo and TV equipment and the other heavy stuff that she could not carry to the curb; and then she let them have his rifles and shotguns too.

I have thought out my day dreams about finding such a great big pile of chucked out hunting gear goodies all the way through to encounters with the police seeing me taking guns outa’ some dumpster, worrying about whether they were stolen or not, yelpin’ to the cops about my former Maine Guide thing, along with explaining the true facts about my poverty as a disabled Army veteran, and that I want my load of legal hunting gear to help my life be lived a whole lot better with.

Someday, I hope to luck out while dumpster diving and/or duckin’ down alleys and/or curb crawling by finding enough hunting gear, including legal guns, to be able to keep a nice selection for my own hunting uses and then sell or trade some of the guns, and hunting clothing that doesn’t fit me, for the cost of a hunting license and for the first deer hunting trip.

Include in that pile of found hunting gear some rare old shotguns or rifles to trade for a trip or two to hunt up in Canada or out west for Elk, Moose, and yum-yum-yummy all the wild game that I can legally shoot, skin, butcher, and cure by wood smoke or store in a great big freezer at home, and I’d be one happy, and well fed, hunter.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

There May Be Eternal Rewards For Dumster Diving

Like I said in the one blog post on here, dumpster diving is honest work. And when you dumpster dive you deserve everything you can get from doing it; including the eternal good karma kinda' stuff for being good to Momma Earth—I mean c'mon now, when it's all said and done, and you become a great big snack shack for the conqueror worm, if the sum total of your life actually is tallied up and weighed out for good verses bad, to judge where your soul will spend eternity, then d-diving with its attendant saving of natural resources from being wasted has to count for something in a dumpster diver's favor.