Behind the Victory Flagpole – Around the neighborhood recycling


Written by Barbara Meyer Bistodeau

Once again I feel driven to relate some of the written memories of my friend, Bill Jackman. His thoughts are so close to mine but he has been able to express them more perfectly. The important thing to him was that the past be remembered and passed along from generation to generation and not forgotten.

For instance,he talked about the subject of recycling.

“You may think it’s not an old custom, but it’s been going on forever. Nothin’ was thrown away, everything had a purpose. Don’t  throw away what others might be able to use! Course, lots get lost in the shuffle – might be able to use it again so maybe I should save it!”

Think about it – I have no computer, but saved these here thoughts all through the years, in my mind. Just have to clear the cobwebs out.

I can see it like it was yesterday, the horse and buckboard comin’ down the alley, umbrella to keep the heat too. The horse, too, wearing a derby hat to keep out of the sun. The horse looked like a real gent in it. He was a very well-mannered horse. I used to like feedin’ him carrots and apples. He made a real good pet when his day’s work was done.

The man that owned him made weekly trips down the alleys of North Minneapolis, collecting everything he could fit in the buckboard. My dad heard a kid calling him a name one day and that didn’t go over too well. My dad informed him how wrong it was to call people names, especially someone working hard to make a decent living.

Later on I got to know this recycler and his horse, as well as the rest of the family. They lived just north of the Camden Bridge, on the river bank. Good family!

Come to think of it, we recycled things in our own home too. It was in the Depression and they didn’t have any good cooking oil available. So most every housewife kept a can of bacon grease on her stove for frying other things. Would have been frowned upon in these days. Women who sewed made quilts out of leftover materials and if you had any clean rags you could give them to someone who made rag rugs. Or to the recycle man.

Not to be forgotten – the good ole Sears Catalog. It got taken outside to the little building with the half-moon carved on the door.

“I looked upon my dad as a good role model. He taught us kids a lot about recycling, among other things. We didn’t have much money, so he got scraps of wood and made toys for us. One of the toys he made for me was “Lincoln Logs.” They were made out of pieces of birch. I was the only kid around who had square Lincoln Logs.

Later on in life I started making toys out of wood scraps like my dad. Even got a good supply of Cheerio sticks, which helped a lot. I made doll houses with tiny furniture, little cars, trucks and wagons, and little people. These toys I distributed to hospitals, daily vacation bible school classes and to libraries. I got joy out of seeing how happy these recycled toys made the kids!”

Note: Taken from the writings of Bill Jackman.