The dollar, it seems, used to go pretty far, as these two 1953 receipts bear out. "Charms 3 Boxes" for a mere $1.78 at the People's Drug Store and a full month of newspapers—delivered, no less—for the trifling sum of $1.40.
Four snapshots someone took of their TV screen. The images are pretty familiar, especially to me since I drive past that wall in the background all the time. It's the T Street entrance of the Washington Hilton, site of John Hinckley's assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.
Why didn't the picture-taker just use YouTube? Oh, right...
The street I grew up on, well, it wasn't really a street. It was a boulevard. By the age of 11 or so I had come to realize that "boulevard" had a certain cachet, a kind of European flair, that "street" lacked. And, indeed, it was no ordinary street; down the middle of Springbrook Boulevard, in Dayton, Ohio, ran the eponymous brook, a quietly burbling little stream through which my friends and I would wade, upsetting rocks and catching crawdads. (In case you're confused, the brook did not literally run down the middle of the street; the roadway was a long oval bisected by a strip of grass and trees, through which the creek ran.) Unusual people lived along my part of the boulevard. Everyone's neighbors are strange or funny or mysterious to a degree, but my little stretch seemed particularly endowed with odd birds. Across the street lived the twins, Holly and Heidi, and their mother, whose obsession with Elvis was unsettling. Down from them lived Mrs. Hough and her son. Mrs. Hough could be relied upon for two things: Little Debbie oatmeal-creme cookies, if you knocked and asked nicely; and, every so often--but without fail--she would back her car out of her driveway, forget to turn the steering wheel, go down the embankment, and into the creek. Directly next door to my house was Mr. and Mrs. Stover, a nice elderly couple who had a little vegetable garden that was always set upon by rabbits, no matter their efforts to keep them out. Mrs. Stover will never be forgotten for her unabashed snooping; it was highly unusual to be out in the driveway and not find her peering through the blinds, staring fixedly at you. You could make eye contact with her and her gaze would not waver nor her blank expression change. Anyhow, one day, around 8 or 9 years of age, I was playing with the twins in the creek. It was summer, one of those elemental summer days that seem, when looking back as an adult, to be made of green leaves, blue sky, fluffy white clouds, yellow sun. I suppose we were looking for crawdads (crayfish, to some of you). We may have been digging up the occasional car part, too; every so often you'd come across a side mirror or bit of tail-light from one of Mrs. Hough's depth-perception errors. It was getting close to dinnertime. I knew I'd soon have to go in, but I really didn't want to. I wanted to stay out there, feeling my bare feet on the slippery, moss-covered rocks and teasing the twins, whose sole similarity to each other was that they both lisped. For some time, though, I had really had to pee. But I didn't want to run into my house, worried that my parents would induce me to stay in. I didn't want to go into Holly and Heidi's place, either, because I found their mother rather terrifying, with her enormous hair and makeup so heavy that it seemed to make her face sag. Plus, I knew she'd want to show me some of her latest Elvis kitsch. The situation was getting truly desperate though. I was at the point where I had to pee so bad that I got that strange tingly feeling in my molars; where I was unconsciously reaching down and squeezing the end of my ding-a-ling to hold it in; where I could think of nothing but peeing; and where, moreover, I was surrounded by the sound of running water. I could take it no more. I quickly hopped and jumped over to where a tree grew out of the bank, hoping it would provide adequate cover from the girls, and further hoping that they hadn't noticed my distress. I was wearing shorts with an elastic waist. As I started to pull the front down, I furtively looked over to make sure I was unseen; at the same time as I pulled the front of my shorts down with my right hand, I was grabbing onto my dilly-ho-ho with my left hand. Something went wrong. I immediately started peeing all over myself, starting with my face and, more specifically, my nostrils and eyes. So overcome had I been with joy at the prospect of imminent relief that my bladder had preceded my having fully gotten my wee willy winky out and pointed safely away from my body. Shocked by the sting of urine in my eyes and, believe it or not, my sinuses, I started falling backward, and made quite a splash in every sense of the word. I never fell completely down, but my ruckus had attracted the attention of Heidi and Holly, who stood transfixed as I wrestled with myself, for the flow continued unabated and I still had not fully released my petit jesu from my shorts. After several hours of this, it finally stopped. The twins, naturally, were howling with laughter. Mrs. Stover had probably gotten an eye-full, too (although not in the same way I had). I clambered up the bank, utterly humiliated and now quite ready to go in. I managed to get inside the house without my parents seeing me and asking me embarrassing questions I did not wish to answer.
Recovered from a circa 1895 steamer trunk, these cards identify the bearer as a Knight Templar and Royal Arch Mason in good standing with the Chamberlain, South Dakota, Chapter No. 32. This chapter, as is commonly known, was among the most feared in Brule County, and is thought to have played the chief role in instigating the infamous Barley Riots that took place in Chamberlain on May 12, 1923, from 4:45 pm to 5:02 pm. Only a loud and impatient whistle from a passing constable brought the situation under control.
This tag came from the seatbottom of one of three fairly unremarkable-looking chairs that I was prepared to take to the dump. Fortunately, my friend Bill indentified the chairs as desirable bent-plywood Thonet chairs from the 1950s, and they'll be auctioned soon. I love the old Maryland Department of Health stamp that was applied to the tag.
A terrible bit of blank verse written on the back of a pink "While You Were Out" slip (incidentally, do they even make those anymore in the age of voicemail?). Given that it is signed "Love always, Michael", it's pretty hilarious that he clearly was confused on the spelling of the name of the unfortunate girl he wrote it for. Here now, is the poem:
A vision comes
from the third eye
out the mouth
to my ears
and pushes me
Yechh. The large indent before "Nirvana" really grates. Michael strikes me as the earnest type of sensitive fellow who date-rapes passed out girls at Phish concerts.
This is a lame-ass hall pass. It's a product, I think, of the namby-pamby modern practice of treating all children as "winners". Why else would this bathroom pass imply that the bearer is a "star" and be garnished with crappy celebratory graphics? In my day (did I really just write that?), a bathroom pass was a chalkboard-eraser-sized block of wood with the word "PASS" written on it in magic marker. And it got the job done.
Recovered in the LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington, DC.
The last thing the shutterbug saw before being torn to shreds? Really terrific old snapshot recovered from a shoebox in Mt. Rainier, MD. I worry for the photographer/intruder. Hope she got rabies shots just to be safe.
Yes, Trashball is hard. It's labor intensive and each little ball only nets me 25 of your Earth cents. That's why I invite you to help support Trashball by checking out my t-shirts and other novelties. Some shirts, like those above, feature bits of Trashball ephemera. Others feature my art (www.goodwinart.com) and politics.
Here's the nearly all-male Kiwanis Club of Greencastle, Indiana, in 1926. I have a hunch that the gentleman I point to is about to break wind (click on the image for a closer view). He's just got that look about him.