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I was at a party recently and after everyone had their say about how hot and wet and crazy the weather's been this summer, we got involved in a deep discussion about our town's dump.
The local selectmen had voted to close the dump – which was a local historic landmark - and, along with a gaggle of other towns, help bankroll a “regional waste-materials, inter-modal transfer facility.”
Our first thought was: What kind of person thinks up names like “regional waste-materials intermodal transfer facility?” Next, we concluded that anyone who would want to replace the easy to remember phrase “dump” with “regional waste-materials intermodal transfer facility” and then expect people to adopt it and use it in normal, everyday conversation is probably not the kind of person you'd want exercising authority over the kinds of toxic materials associated with dumps.
Whenever I think of town dumps that are truly sensitive of the environment, I often think of my friend Woody Getchell from way Down East. Every week like clockwork Woody would load up his pickup truck with a week’s worth of trash – or “waste-materials” as some would have us call it – and he'd haul it all to the dump. Once there he would throw all his trash over the bank, and after his truck was empty, Woody would jump down off the truck and begin the most important part of his weekly trip, which was, of course, surveying the dump's unique and ever-changing collection or treasures.
On a good day Woody would see something like an old washing machine that might have needed a few wires or belts or hoses changed but was carelessly thrown away instead. Next, he might see an outboard motor that, for want of a spark plug or drive shaft, was thrown on the trash heap. Woody figured that all these machines needed was a little tinkering to be good as new again and so he'd load them into his pickup.
Before long he might see an old wooden door that would be perfect for the hunting camp he and and his brother Tink planned to build once they straightened out the tricky lease arrangement with the paper company and then got the camped framed out the way they wanted.
Woody would go on like that for most of the morning collecting one essential item after another until he'd have a lot more balanced on that pickup of his than he hauled to the dump in the first place. Once his truck was filled he'd “transfer” or “dump” all that stuff onto his back porch or dooryard until he needed it, which, there was no doubt, he eventually would.
Dumps used to be revered in Maine, and it’s sad that they’re disappearing. The Kennebunkport Dump Association even used to celebrate its dump heritage each year with a parade and the crowning of Miss Dumpy. The parade was started in 1965 by the association, a 40-member group with one president and 39 vice presidents. President and artist Ed Mayo was the power behind the dump, and at its peak the parade was featured in National Geographic and the Today Show. The object of the Miss Dumpy contest is to construct a costume entirely from items that did or could come from the dump. "Miss Dumpy" was picked on the basis of her costume.
Let me know if you ever hear about a “Miss Regional Waste-Materials Intermodal Transfer Facility.”

John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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