06
May
07

Social Hub

Mary Jean Place, a woman who was instrumental in the creation of Byxbee Park in Palo Alto, recalled the Palo Alto dump in former days as a social hub. Before recyclables were picked up curbside, everybody used to go there to drop off their recyclables on the weekend. Politicians would make it a stop on the campaign trail because of the traffic.

Mary Jean’s story reminds me of the stories John Connolly told me of long lines of cars at the dump on Saturdays in days now long gone, come to drop off regular trash. He remembers queue jumpers and brawls at the gate.

And then there was the picture of Byron Sher–dating to some time in the 1970s, I think–in the city historian’s garbage archives. Sher, who later become a California state senator, was shown dropping off his own household waste of a Saturday during a campaign to be elected to the Palo Alto city council. The point of the picture appeared to be that Sher was not above the usual household chores.

All of these tidbits suggest that we have only become further removed from our garbage dumps, even as we have gained more environmental consciousness. Or have we?

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