At the end of July in Lawrence, hundreds of rental houses turn over, and the streets are lined with sofas, mattresses and an outrageous amount of vacuums and mops. A whole lot of people who live here, mainly students by the looks of it (and mainly wealthy-enough students who don’t see the need of taking their pots and pans with them), leave behind a whole lot of stuff. Which is where people like me come in.
For as long as I’ve lived in Lawrence, it’s been a treasure hunt to wander the alleys, particularly during key moving times, and the plum time of all is the end of July. Over the years, we’ve basically furnished our house and filled up our utensil draws with what we find, which is often high quality and hardly-used (sometimes even brand new). It seems many parents equip their kids for college with all sorts of things their kids never use, like anything related to a kitchen or the cleaning of it.
Yesterday, while in one alley, I saw an elder Chinese woman standing by a simple rubber trash can. She reached in and pulled out a brand new toaster, reached in again and drew out a primo dish rack. In the past few days, I’ve found a cushy, hardly-worn overstuffed living room chair, a brand new vacuum (to replace the less-than-new one we scored last year), a suede jacket for my daughter, another office chair, the mandatory new mop and broom we pick up each year, a metal typing table in great condition, and assorted plastic goods. And I’ve done this without dirtying my hands in any actual trash (although I did tell a friend it was a shame that so many people moving out put trash in the dumpsters — it really gets in the way). I’ve also met various people in the alleys who showed me their finds, such a hammock and lambskin.
There’s also simply the beauty of many alleys in town with their surprise lilies lighting the way, occasional splashes of color and art, and tunnels through greenery. While there’s a whole lot not worth getting out of the car for (or as my friend named it, not “heat worthy” enough), there’s the continual surprise of what turning one direction as opposed to another might bring, not unlike life in general.
Some alley views, plus the chair we found (with Daniel working in it).