Growing up in Blaine & Birch Bay
You went to the Garbage Dump for?
Suppose in one sense it’s a good thing my grandkids don’t ask what it was like growing up. I don’t think they would believe me. They would look at me with that look that is as much a question as anything. That looks that asks “Do ya think Papa’s loosin’ it a bit?
”Let me illustrate what I mean by a simple question one of my grandkids might ask, “What’d you guys do for fun?” Now, in answer to that question I might say “Sometimes we’d go down to the dump and shoot rats. ”MGK (My grandkid) “The dump?” “Yeah, the dump was on the right hand side on your way down to the dock. You couldn’t miss it. If you couldn’t find it with your eyes you could find it with your nose. MGK “The dump? Seriously Papa…what is a dump? ”Well, it was this space, from the road to the mudflats that had been filled in with garbage and covered with gravel. It was shared by the community. MGK “You dumped your garbage on the mudflats?” “Well, yeah. During the day people would just drive down with their pick ups, turn around and back up. Then they’d open the tailgate and shove their stuff they didn’t want anymore out the back. ”MGK “Was someone there running it?” “Pushing stuff out of the bed of your pick up isn’t exactly a high level activity. Hell, even in Blaine I never heard of anyone needing to be trained. And if ya had something heavy, someone would give you a hand. “MGK “You talk about it like it was some social gathering.”
“Oh it was, and it was best on Saturday mornings. Everyone would be there at some point. Folks would wave across the way, or pull over to talk. Roll the window of the truck down and BS.”
“Another thing, we didn’t have any damned garage sales in those days. People might have muttered “Must be having some hard times.”” Instead, we had the dump. If someone had something kinda cool, they’d set it away from the general garbage. Everyone understood that it was available for whoever wanted to take it. If no one took it, the community had passed judgement and it was doomed to be shoved in to the ever expanding dump.”
MGK “Papa, shooting rats, let me get this straight, you, just randomly shot guns in the middle of town.” “Well, it wasn’t exactly in the middle of town, it was on the way down to the end of the dock. ”MGK “And the police didn’t arrest you?” “Well, the Blaine Cops never would. And the Border Patrol in their mint green and white cars would sit there and BS while they used their binoculars to scan the railroad tracks for line jumpers MGK “And how was it even remotely safe?” “Well, Blaine had a rule, it was the same rule I was raised with. I think every kid in Blaine was raised with the same rule, “Don’t be Stupid.” Pointing your gun toward town would be stupid…you don’t do it. You would shoot with a .22. Anything bigger and you could start an international incident with our good friends across the line. You shot with your back to the road so your shell would drop in the mud flats. You practiced good gun safety ‘cuz you didn’t want to break the universally accepted “Don’t be Stupid” rule. MGK “So how did you shoot rats in the dark?” “Well, we’d tape a flashlight to the barrel of the .22. Then, when we saw movement we’d draw down on it, give it some lead, and squeeze off a round. Splat. Well, I think that’s how it worked for some. I’m afraid after all these years I’m going to have to confess publicly that I never had a confirmed rat kill at the Blaine dump, although I did make the attempt. ”At this point in the conversation I’m afraid that my grandkid would seek the eye of their sibling and communicate that “I’m afraid Papa has lost it” look. But you know it happened…cuz you did it too.