By: Rex

Not so secret ponderings on the subject of
Sometimes it just breaks my heart to go through other people's garbage. I mean, I don't have a problem diggin' around in a dumpster behind some department store or supermarket, but those digs aren't always such a great score. Today I was going through this old woman's stuff that was in-and-outside her house. I was taking all the usual things, photos, furniture items that I need in the house where I live, nik-naks, patty-waks, etc. I even got a copy of "Ostomy Times" magazine. But that doesn't tell you much. Let me back up just a tiny bit.
Pensacola is a great town. Among other things, it's a safe town where you can walk around the streets any time day or night and not have to worry. That might not seem to have anything to do with garbage scores, but it does. The reason that P'cola is so safe, is in part due to the large amount of elderly citizens that live here. They are the people that are rarely seen. Those folks that clatter around the house all day, never leaving except to go out on the porch. They stay locked up in their homes surrounded by the artifacts of their lives, the memories of all the times they had, all the adventures they lived through and the prizes they claimed along the way. Who doesn't have (or know of) a granny somewhere that lives in an elaborate maze of cool ancient trinkets, where the place always smells like old newspapers and moth poop. Yeah, it warms my heart just thinking about it. The only problem with this happy little scenario is one thing… The fact that the cards are stacked against them and time is in deed on the side of those hungry worms in the graveyard.
Eventually, we all die. Weather or not we leave behind a bunch of trash for the neighborhood kids to dig through is up to us. That's what I'm getting at. So, I'm digging around this woman's stuff, looking at photos, finding all sorts of devices and medicines, and basically going through a her entire life piece by piece, all the while knowing that I'm doing something she no longer has the luxury to do. You can tell allot about what plagues a person by what's in their medicine cabinet. The painkillers, the hemorrhoid creams, the heart pills. The fact that they had a subscription to a magazine about and for people with colostomy bags speaks volumes about the old days of eating red meat, then eventually growing old with a dead large intestine rotting away in your gut. On my way to the corner of one room, I tripped over a box of diapers. Really big diapers!!! You know, the ones that Tiny Tim (the performer) used to wear. So I start throwing diapers around and having a blast, but eventually stop when I realize that my fun stems from the last days of a decentigrating life. All those pills, every remedy known to man piled high in some vain attempt to prolong life, or at least make it a little less painful.
What kind of kids would wait until their parents died, then once they did, take all their stuff and throw it away then sell their house? I mean, there were some really sentimental things there and I knew that it was only gonna be another day or two before a dump truck would come erase it all. Well, I can't let that stop me, so I throw a couple more diapers around and continued loading up a trunk with stacks of 16mm film reels. Apparently the "man of the house" was a professional photographer, so there were literally thousands of pictures stuffed into boxes stacked halfway to the ceiling, everywhere! Anyone who's read my past issues probably knows by now that I have a habit of keeping every photo I find no matter how insignificant it might be. So I'm in a quite a situation here. There simply isn't enough room in my van to carry all of it!
Two van loads later, I've managed to get almost every negative in the house along with countless photo albums and stacks of 16mm movie films that date back to 1924! There are pictures of television screens from before VCRs. Pictures of live broadcasts showing mankind on the moon, in space, and in Vietnam. There are young pictures of the Pope, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Ford, Nixon, Eisenhower even! Oh, the humanity! I saw silent, never released movies of bi-planes landing on aircraft carriers, troops running through fields in Vietnam while fire bombs explode in the distant hills. Decade after decade of human insanity from the viewpoint of one man who lives on only because I bothered to save his work from the city land fill.
I sometimes ask myself if I'm not treading on thin ice between being a collector of detritus or a vigilante historian. Then again, lets consider for a moment that the famous "Alien Autopsy" film is a valid artifact. If it weren't for someone digging around in the stacks of someone else's film collection, that film would probably have ended up with all the other lost evidence that was carelessly tossed aside in nondescript film canisters. Considering that Pensacola is dangerously close to three major military bases, I was secretly hoping that I would stumble across some paranormal film clip of earth shattering significance myself. I haven't yet, but I also haven't watched all the films yet either.
Oh well, to make a long story screech to a sudden halt, I made off with a ton of great things and got some stuff for my friends as well. Sure I'll probably think about the former owners of this stuff once in a while, but at least their creations haven't gone wasted.