Dumpster diving is the practice of sifting through commercial or residential trash to find items that have been discarded by their owners, but which may be useful to the Dumpster diver. The practice of Dumpster diving is also known variously as urban foraging, binning, alley surfing, aggressive recycling, Curbing, D-mart, Dumpstering, garbaging, garbage picking, garbage gleaning, dumpster-raiding, dumpstering, dump-weaseling, tatting, skally-wagging, skipping, or trashing. -- Wikipedia
OK, first of all I'd like to apologize to anyone who lost their morning coffee all over their keyboard and screen for that illustration. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Anyone who has read much of my Praxis stuff knows that I am a big believer in scavenging. I get this compulsion from my early training at the knee of my mother's father, Lewis Nace, who, after being injured in an industrial accident at Clark Equipment, supplemented his disability by trash hauling. He would put an ad in the newspaper and offer to clean out basements and attics and carry off unwanted items to the dump. Boy, did he make out like a bandit. Hey, he even carried off firearms and ammunition (unfortunately this was many years before I was allowed access to firearms). He would recycle scrap metal, fix broken furniture, sort clothes, you name it. When he had a load, he would go down to the great flea markets and auctions just below the Michigan-Indiana line. My earliest memories of him include wheeling and dealing at the Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market, in the heart of Amish country.
I used to make a good living myself diving the dumpsters of the Ohio National Guard on 161 outside Linworth, back before everybody got so paranoid about property books and terrorism. I did my best gleaning for manuals, discarded load bearing equipment, even brass, links, bandoleers, rations and pyrotechnics. Ah, the good old days.
But once an urban forager, always an urban forager. Take my latest trip to the range. The brass had already been policed before we got there, so there was little on the ground. But, oh, the trash cans. Most people hate to dig around in trash cans, mostly because there's trash in there, some of it organic and a fair percentage of that objectionable from an olfactory point of view. But here's my take from three trash cans:
4 SKS stripper clips
234 pieces of brass, various
4 brand new factory loaded rounds, Remington .243 still in box.
1 8mm Mauser bandoleer.
1 .22 pistol magazine, uncertain progeny.
24 empty cardboard ammo boxes, some useful as bandoleer sleeves, others to be used to contain .45ACP, 7.62 NATO and 5.56 NATO reloads.
(The pistol mag was apparently discarded for being dirty. I brought it home, stripped it, cleaned it, reassembled it and it seems perfect. No damaged feed lips, spring strong, no rust, holds .22 rounds no problem. Now if I can just figure out what it fits.)
And this was a slow day.
In the past, from the same cans I have retrieved a .22 rifle scope that was found adjusted all the way to the right and up, indicating that the guy had a problem with his base needing shimmed. I put it on one of mine, adjusted it and it works perfectly; a half dozen Australian 7.62 NATO bandoleers, complete with discarded stripper clips and guides; a pair of binoculars with one lens fogged (I stripped it, cleaned it and resealed it and it works fine.); an M-1 carbine 15 round magazine with a dent that obstructed the follower (I used a vise and a homemade fixture to straighten out the dent and it works fine now.); and, most importantly untold hundreds of boxes and thousands of pieces of brass that people just throw away.
Not to mention uncounted coins, three cell phones (one still had minutes on it) and a twenty dollar bill. The list could go on and on. Trash is the gift that keeps on giving.
Don't forget thrift stores either. I once got a medium kevlar PASGT helmet from the toy shelves marked, like all the other bike helmets, for $1.98. I have twenty-two five gallons icing buckets, each packed with two GI wool blankets, picked up at the thrift stores or garage sales for as little as 50 cents or as much as $4.98. What will I do with the wool blankets? Well, you never can tell who might need them. Besides, in the end they were free. I found three brand new 1943 Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot blankets that I sold to WWII collectors and re-enactors for a total of $135.00. That paid for the rest of them.
Anyway, I'll be interested to see if any of you have guerrilla scavenging stories. Oh, yeah, and sorry again about the picture.