Friday, August 12, 2016

Good news rolls by us, if we only notice

     Trumpless Friday continues. 

     There is no proper history of the garbage can. Not that I could find, anyway.
     A shame. If you look at contemporary American life trying to find evidence of undeniable positive change, improved garbage cans roll immediately into view.

     For me, anyway. Then again, I am of an age that remembers galvanized steel garbage cans, remembers muscling them to the curb and remembers that hideous metal-on-concrete scraping sound.
    Now moving garbage is quiet and easy.  

Rolling garbage can patent
    How did that happen? 
     Jump back 70 years. Garbage was a crisis in Chicago.
     “Almost half the city’s 2,000 miles of alleys have been lined with open piles of filth,” the Chicago Sun noted in August 1946. Only one in seven garbage truck stops were made to empty “tight, strong metal cans.” Thirty percent were to pick up garbage placed in “old washtubs, battered baskets and boxes.” A quarter were at concrete containers, which garbage men emptied using shovels, a process that took five times as long as tipping a can. Another quarter, nearly, were at open piles of garbage.

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  1. I believe it was under Jane Byrne that the plastic bins were started.
    She had an Irish immigrant as Streets & San boss & he once said, "They'll be like little black soldiers standing in every alley"!
    Amazing he didn't get canned for that politically incorrect line.

    1. A belief unshaken by contrary evidence. I assume you are a Republican. I'll take my archival research to your 35-year-old memory.

    2. I recall a snippet on NPR some years ago in which a man vividly remember a conversation in which some bit of information was passed on to him. It was proved to his satisfaction that the conversation could not have taken place. Nevertheless, the memory persisted.


  2. Best column in America every goddamn day.

  3. So many improvements we take for granted while bemoaning our supposed losses from the "good old days."

    You offer not only a living history lesson every morning, but a primer on psychology as well.


  4. "Trump-free Friday" is a good idea, but the distance from Trump to garbage pickup is not really a great leap. (That was perhaps too easy.)

    Neil is again being the invaluable guide to those of us who like to look around and see how our lives are being transformed in major ways by seemingly little things. Although the subject is garbage, a widening of the scope makes it yet another episode in the history of the wheel, perhaps history's most life-changing innovation,and one that keeps yielding new benefits. Much drudgery was lifted from agriculture, warfare was transformed by the wheeled chariot, and the history of getting from here to there over land was, until we learned to fly, largely involved with new ways of rolling rather than dragging. And garbage collection has not been the only recent beneficiary. It was only in the lifetime of many of us that wheels began appearing on suitcases, transforming travel and making hotel and airport porters a vanishing species.

    Tom Evans

  5. I once lived in a suburb where they encouraged recycling by making pickup of recycled material free, whereas other garbage would only be picked up if placed in city-issued, taxed bags. Dunno if they still do that.

    Bitter Scribe


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