It’s no secret that Joyce loved to shop at Deseret Industries. Few, however, know that she preferred scavenging at the old Hyrum dump.
The Hyrum dump was “out across the dam”. To get to the dump, you literally had to cross the dam on the road, then continue south for about three-quarters of a mile on the road towards Mount Sterling. The dump was located on the east side of the road, with the garbage being dumped into a ravine that eventually wound its way to the reservoir. At the time, we didn’t think twice about the water that flowed through the dump and into the reservoir. Today, the EPA would be “on it” like the flies on the bloating animal carcasses on the east side of the old dump.
There was no garbage pickup in those days, nor was there a Deseret Industries in Logan. That meant that all household garbage that you couldn’t burn in your backyard barrel eventually had to hauled to the dump. Without a DI or other thrift store option, items that had outlived their usefulness became candidates for the dump as well.
We’d usually haul a pickup load of junk at a time. Prior to 1968, the family did not own a pickup so borrowed Grandpa Marvin’s 1948 Chevrolet half-ton. The truck’s bed would be loaded with the overflowing burn barrel, garden and yard waste and any broken or outdated items. The actual trip to the dump was usually a family affair with Dad driving, Mom in the passenger seat and the lucky children sitting in the truck’s bed with the garbage. It was a much-anticipated event.
Upon arrival at the dump, we’d usually see old Dan Nield, the garbage man and dump supervisor and Grandpa Marvin’s neighbor. Sometimes Dan would direct us to dump our garbage in a certain place. Dad backed the old truck down the slope to the edge of the garbage, then dropped the tailgate and began unloading.
In the meantime, Mom and we urchins bolted out of the truck and went on a real scavenger hunt. There were endless boxes to look through, old clothing to hold up and lumber to be moved out of the way, just in case it was hiding some treasure. Upon finding an item of potential value, like a baby doll carriage missing one wheel, we would wade through the garbage, haul it over to Mom and ask if we could keep it. I don’t remember her ever telling us “no.” She busied herself gathering fruit bottles, vases, figurines, old lamps, plastic flowers, wooden boxes and whatever else struck her fancy.
Dad was not at all enthusiastic and was clearly embarrassed to have his wife and children sorting through other people’s garbage. He’d protest mildly because he’d long since given up trying to stop Mom from doing anything she wanted. It probably wasn’t worth the grief she’d give him. His protest usually went something like: “Damn it, Joyce, we’re taking more stuff home than we hauled out here.” With each new item that found its way back into the truck, he’d just shake his head back and forth as if to say “how did I get roped into this?”
I do remember a few times when Dad purposely made a trip to the dump while Mom was in Logan. He must have figured the hell she gave him for making an unchaperoned trip was easier to take than the humiliation of having his entire family pick through the garbage like hungry magpies.