Back then in that little town we had to take our own trash to the dump, which was an open pit two miles beyond the American Legion. We would back up the Chevy to a steep drop-off and overturn our trash cans into the pit. I had to go with the old man every Saturday, as a chore. I was twelve when this happened, back when every homeless encampment was called “Hooverville.”
On that day two hobos, as they were called then, were at the dump, dressed in rags. One held the end of a rope, the other was half-way down the pit with the rope wrapped around his waist. This one held a big basket and searched for salvage. The hobo on top asked the old man if they could go through our trash before we dumped it into the pit. My father said, sure, and the hobo pulled his partner to the top.
Standing off to one side, my dad and I waited for them to sort through our refuse. I screwed up my face and whispered something unkind.
My father looked down at me, disappointed, and said, “It’s an honest living, son.”
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