September 12, 2012 - Like Yogi, son Shamus, 14, is smarter than the average bear.
However, I am afraid to say, my oldest male cub has picked up at least one of Papa Bear's bad habits -- he likes to "collect" stuff other folks have discarded. I think he enjoys looking for things he can fix, salvage or sell.
I reckon it's like bears in the national parks rummaging through garbage piles -- you never know when you're gonna' find something good.
Yep, I freely admit that Papa Bear Rush is solely to blame for Shamus' quirk of picking through other peoples' curb-side junk. Once you get over the idea that saving something from the landfill is not an embarrassing thing, collecting stuff is relatively easy, if not ecologically beneficial.
I remember my own forays into trash. Heck, it's how I got my first set of golf clubs in the 10th grade. Picked 'em out of my neighbor's trash, bag and all. They were a little short for me, the leather grips a little worn and slippery; the steal shanks and heads were a little rusty for most folks' tastes, but I kept and used them for at least a dozen years. I thought they were cool -- they were official "Ben Hogan" approved.
When I was a lad of about Shamus' age, myself and another lad of Shamus' age, whose last name also started with an "R" used to enjoy exploring the old garbage "dumps" of Independence Township. We'd ride our bikes to different places and go out into the woods and start picking around. Soon we find old colored glass stuff, mason jars, medicine bottles, plates and cups, buried under leaves, roots and dirt. I think we thought we could sell our booty for a tidy little profit.
(For years the stuff just sat in boxes in my folks' basement. I don't think we ever sold a dime's worth of crap. Of course, this was way before E-bay made selling crap easy. Hmm? I wonder what happened to those boxes?)
By the way folks, those types of treasure piles are still out there and you can still find them -- in Clarkston, Oxford, Ortonville and into Goodrich. Anywhere where farmers once owned large tracks of land but are now covered by 50 years or more of woods, if you scout out a bit you can find where they dumped their trash and maybe, you too can find something cool.
What's neat about this is all the crap and stuff deteriorated decades ago and what's left is the nifty glass and metal things of an age long gone by.
Shamus, younger brother Sean and I discovered one of these piles of crap whilst hiking in the woods this past spring. Ah, the wonders of the wilds -- you just never know what adventures you'll stumble upon. I try to teach the boys to keep their eyes open and to be observant so they won't miss any opportunities that present themselves.
I'll give him this, at least Shamus has paid attention to Papa Bear's instructions.
On his own, he's dragged home hunks of metal, wire and most recently an old, and obviously not working 27-inch television set.
He found it somewhere in the 'hood and lugged it home (where he quickly scavenged the set's speakers.) And that was that. Were it not for some gentle coaxing from a certain parental unit (not me), the tv would still be sitting somewhere in the way of humanity.
I told Shamus to load the set into the back of my SUV and that I would take care of it . . . that was on Friday night. By the third quarter of Sunday's Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams football contest it was still in the back of said suburban utility vehicle. But, by the time another Detroit Lion dropped another pass or threw another interception, my mind wandered to that non-working tv and then another non-working tv yet to be tossed in the heap of un-wanted junk (read my July 25 column, "I am shocked . . . or is it shocking? The walking EMP ready to wreck stuff.")
I went out to Shamus' find, popped the back off that tv, popped out the fuse and then came back inside to the big 32-inch television set that has set dormant in my home since July. I opened it up, switched out the fuses, wiggled all the wires and connections, vacuumed 16 years worth of dust from in and around the picture tube . . . and . . . plugged her in.
It worked -- and all because Shamus picked some trash. Good job, son! Step Two in Don's Trash Collecting Ways is to teach him to watch out for the Ranger Smith's of the real world.
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As you read this the speakerless, and fuseless tv still sits in the back of my SUV . . . any ideas where I should take it? E-mail, Don@ShermanPublications.org.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: email@example.com