The Dumps

by Jack Keegan


The Dumps occupied an area where Roanoke Avenue met Foundry Street, went north toward the ramp to the Pulaski Skyway, east to Doremus Avenue, and south to Avenue P.

The property was leased to a man named Mr. Spitznagel, called Happy by his friends and acquaintances. Trucks deposited refuse there from all over Newark and its suburbs. Demolition outfits, hotels, manufacturing companies, all sorts of industries used the dump.

Happy's associates combed through all that debris, picking out reusable materials. Bottles were separated according to color. Bins held clear glass, the next green, then brown and others held mixed colors. The glass was sold to glass companies that melted it and made bottles, jars, etc.

The metal that was picked out was sold to foundries or other users of metal. All sort of clothes are retrieved. A washing station was set up. Five or six 50 gallon barrels were filled with water, set up on blocks with fires under them. Rags then progressed from the soapy water, down the line to the clear water and rinsed. They were then hung out to dry. After they dried, all were sorted into silk, cotton, linen, etc and stored in sheds awaiting being sold to merchants, who dealt in used rags. So it went with all refuse on the dumps.

All this was going on for decades, before the environmentalists thought of the word recycling .


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