Earlier today, my unfortunate colleague Jim Addison (well, soon to be unfortunate -- some things take a little time to prepare) linked to a story out of Hollis, New Hampshire. It appears that some people have been using the town's dump as a social venue. Mr. Addison took that opportunity to not only mock my fellow Granite Staters, but to also make some very unfortunate and improper (but, perhaps, prescient) aspersions at myself, as well.
Such things must not be left unchallenged.
My first response was to say "well, that's Hollis for you." Hollis is a suburb of Nashua, and sits right on the Massachusetts border. A lot of border communities have become, essentially, "North Massachusetts," and this is the sort of thing that one can expect from Massholes.
Then I went and read the story, and I have to say that these people are, indeed, living up to the finest New Hampshire traditions.
It's all in the parts that Mr. Addison chose NOT to quote. For example:
But the backlash has been to the 30-minute rule. A big reason for its adoption is the popularity of the dump's "still good" table, where residents disposing of their trash put items that they no longer want but that are still usable. On Saturday a coffee maker, two pairs of cross-country skis, a dresser and a Disney Princess Castle were among the things up for grabs. Some people browse at the table for hours and have their cars parked adjoining it, for easy transfer should they find something they want. That blocks traffic.
"They're here all day long," Peter Carroll said of a number of fellow townspeople, "like seagulls waiting for someone to drop a piece of food."
See? This isn't garbage, this is a free garage sale. This is good old-fashioned Yankee frugality -- "I don't have any use for this any more, but it's still good. I can't stand to throw it away, I'll let someone else have a chance to take it." It's not only environmentally sound, it's just plain good neighborliness.
And on the other hand, why spend good money for something when you can get it for free? And if you don't like it, you can just bring it back and toss it back on the table. I come from a long line of Yankee pack-rats, and I cringe when I see something with some life still in it consigned to the dumpster.
And just because it's called a dump, that doesn't mean it has to be... well, dumpy.
Ms. D'Esopo said she understood why people wanted to hang out at her dump, which she has lovingly decorated with a Pollockesque painting and various stuffed animals she found in the trash, all of which now hang from the structure where residents put their recyclables. Artificial flowers protrude from parking cones, and a small garden lies nearby. Not a whiff of trash is in the air.
"It's a beautiful dump," Ms. D'Esopo said.
Let's see someone say the same about your average big city street. Especially one with street vendors and alleyways.
We have something slightly similar here in Lebanon. At the recycling center (formerly the town dump), there's a big bookshelf that's overflowing with books. Done with some books? Leave 'em here. Want some free reading material? Take what you like. I've done some swapping there, and it's remarkable what you will find. I grabbed a hardcover of "Hannibal Rising" and a paperback of Mad Magazine's Don Martin's "Adventures of Captain Klutz" off the same shelf, and passed on "Watership Down" -- although it's one of my absolute favorite books, I have two copies already. (Having an emergency backup copy of your favorite book is never a bad idea.)
So yeah, Mr. Addison, enjoy your little giggles at New Hampshire's expense. We can take it, 'cuz we know that we are, indeed, "all that and more." Only our native New Englander reticence and modesty prevents us from reminding the residents of those lesser 49 states that we are far more entitled to being arrogant about our home state than anyone else, even Texans.
Well, reticence, modesty, and a determination to not have everyone else come rushing to live here and ruin the state if they only knew how it is here.
And I'd rather live at the Hollis Town Dump than anywhere in Massachusetts.
Flowers, cards, and letters of sympathy to Mr. Addison over his pending unfortunate and tragic accident may be sent any time after Thanksgiving.