Got this out of the trash when they tore down the old Ridley Township Junior High School aka Ridley North
Saving and protecting History the old Fashioned way
DD and TP
Saving local history and preserving it comes in all sorts of ways. Including, Dumpster Diving [DD] and Trash Picking [TP}. It still amazes even today, what people toss out. Over the years I have found and been giving things that people toss out. I started trashing early. The following stories I have changed the names and locations as to not embarrass anyone.
When Mr. Smith died. his son came to clean the house out. Mr. Smith had formed the local civic association and had put some booklets together over the years. Neighbors told me the son was throwing out everything. I walked down and looked at the trash and saw some promising boxes at the curb and walked home and got my car. As I was loading the first box the son came out yelling at me, “What was I doing?” I explained to him I was interested in local history and had known his dad. He invited me in the house and took me upstairs. His dad had saved all the civic association booklets all the way back to the 1940’s and the son gave me everything. Sadly much had already been thrown out. He didn’t think anyone would be interested.
John, one of my history buddies, stopped one day to show me what he had trash picked and he was shocked at what he had found. He had stopped to get some metal containers that he could use for storage in his shed but it was what was inside the containers that really surprised him. The father who had died a number of years ago had been a local builder and there was a bunch of slides of local buildings in various course of erection and John was giving me them. But it was the other pictures in the containers that he could not understand. They were all family pictures, picnics, weddings, confirmation, baptisms etc. Why would anyone toss them out?
Schools I have never understood. When Delaware County Schools began to merge in the 1960’s and 70’s, especially high schools I was surprised at what happened with some. Most local schools saved everything and devoted rooms, aka museums to the old high schools. Yearbooks, trophies etc. were lovingly displayed but not everywhere. I was shocked that one school tossed everything but their yearbooks. Trophies, pictures, plaques, programs etc. everything before 1960 was trashed. It had been done in secret, depending on what story you heard. Not even all the school board members had known what had happened until it was over and it was too late. I just could not believe it. Several of my history buddies found out and dumpster dived and got some trophies etc. The high school had a big alumni group and they had been told nothing and not offered anything, so sad.
I had been asking the owner for weeks about the lights on the building, I had always loved them. The building was coming down and I really wanted to save them. The lights were an art deco style and I did not want to see them end up in the trash, I had gotten permission the day before demolition to take them. So here I was on a ladder at 1230 midnight taking the lights off the building. I had just gotten done work so I was still in my police uniform. Two cop cars pulled up and wanted to know why I was stealing the lights. Luckily I had gotten a letter from the owner that day that I could take the lights. The officer from the other town could not believe the company was just given the lights to me a Ridley Cop of all people. I showed him the letter and he still called the building’s owner to make sure everything was on the “up and up”. He could not believe that the company did not want them and neither could I. I had them restored and they look great.
Always look and always ask! You never know what is going to be trashed next week! Remember one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
Delaware County Historical Society
Cordially invites you to the Annual Meeting and Awards
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
The Grange Estate
143 Myrtle and Warwick Roads
Havertown, PA 19083
The Friends of the Grange will provide a lecture and
Tour of this beautiful 18th century mansion
For Information please call: 610-359