Pioneer Pride: Part 15-Dump Run

How could I not be a child of Oregon City without a relationship to the town dump, the one near Kelly Field and the adjacent landfill with its Mad Max methane torches? In the early days, it was open-air if I remember correctly, and you just drove right up to the edge of a concrete precipice, paid a few bucks, and then cast your shit deep down onto a pile of more shit.

Perhaps once or twice a year my father would borrow a truck and we would make the dump run. I quickly learned that the experience of a dump run was greatly enhanced if you had large, breakable objects to smash upon the pile. TVs were obviously the best. (Remember, this was long before recycling.) No wonder rock stars loved hurling them out of hotel windows and watching them explode on contact. In a sense I became, for a few precious seconds, a rock star at the dump when I got to throw a television set over a precipice and watch and hear it explode. Furniture and full-length mirrors were fun, too. And small lamps would fly through the air for what seemed like hours and then shatter ever so beautifully. Oh, and the old church coffee percolators were fun to heave as well. I also recall flinging a speckled bowling ball, too, and watching it pulverize a shower stall’s glass door.

Often I would accompany my friends with their fathers to the dump. The call would come early Saturday morning, I’d ask my mom or father permission, and later, a friend and his father would pick me up in some kind of truck and off we went. I preferred these dump runs with my friends’ fathers because my father was not the kind to amass a lot of shit, or the really good stuff that broke apart on impact. These other fathers hauled all manner of appliances, windows, lawnmowers and furniture. I once participated in throwing a drill press over the precipice. What a sound that made when it landed and cracked in two.

When I think back to what was thrown away, most of it was in pretty decent shape and today would be donated to thrift stores, which were uncommon in my Oregon City youth. I don’t think there was one.