Indiana Biff and the Dumpster of Grot




Today was not bad for a Monday.

For one thing, Wednesday will be the 4th of July and so, since we get the day off, a lot of people are taking off the entire week to leverage the day off and getting 9 whole days off from work by only using up 4 vacation days.  That is a bargain no matter how you look at it.

But the best part is, for those of us who DON’T get to take the week off, there are a lot of people missing at work and that always makes for a more relaxing week.  A lot of the people who make life miserable for the rest of us aren’t there.

That is the most productive thing they can contribute to the company:  their absence.

The Excavation

I had an interesting day yesterday.  And when I say, “interesting”, I mean it would be mind-numblingly boring for anyone but me.  (The rest of this post will prove that in spades.)

My theme for 2018 has been to simplify, minimize, and reduce and since I had a little free time and some solitude yesterday, I tackled my home office (again).  There has been an enormous plastic bin full of ancient papers I have been meaning to go through for some time, but the task was daunting, so I kept putting it off.

Until yesterday.

I felt like Indiana Jones and the Plastic Tub of Grot.  All that was missing was my jaunty fedora, a whip tied to my waist, and rugged good looks.

Keep in mind that this tub has remained un-inspected by me for decades.  I had no idea what I would find.  It was like opening up a time capsule, or a treasure chest, or a dumpster behind a Chinese take-away restaurant.

Financing the Expedition

Most of what I encountered was old papers from my high school and college days.  There were letters from my high school and my college.  Nearly all of them got shredded, though I scanned a few of the more interesting ones.

There were old bank statements from back then.  You can imagine how fascinating the bank statement of a high school student is!  With a weekly salary of the staggering sum of forty dollars (which, coincidentally, is the average amount of money that Harrison Ford usually tips the man who applies whip-oil to his whip), you can imagine the lavish purchases and the complex financial dealings I used to have.

The vast majority of the checks were made out to the following:

  • Winn Dixie (a grocery store located primarily in the southern United States)
    • Apparently the only place in town who would cash a check by a student
    • Most checks were for $5 or $10
    • Probably used the cash to put gas in my car
    • Whatever was left over was spent on Cokes and Peanut M&Ms, the primary source of most of my nutrition back then
  • Domino’s Pizza
    • Because a man in his late-teens/early-20s can only survive on pizza
    • The only pizza place in town that would take a check from a sketchy student
  • Radio Shack
    • Because I was an engineering student and had things to build
    • Apparently about 90% of my Senior Project was built using Radio Shack parts
    • And because Radio Shack was actually a cool place back then
  • TG&Y
    • This was virtually the only department store in town (there were no Wal-Marts or Targets back then)
    • Probably bought oil for my car (since it used more oil than gas) or maybe transmission or brake fluid
    • Probably also bought blank cassettes on which to record my favorite vinyl albums (there were no CDs or MP3 players back then)

All of the checks and statements went into the shredder, since my checks had my Social Security number printed right on them underneath my address.  Can you believe there was ever a time when identity theft was not a thing?

Living to Tell the Tale

In addition to all of that, I also found some of my old writing.  Yes, I wanted to be a writer even way back then.  I’m sure we all did.

I even found the very first thing I ever wrote.  I was at the tender age of … hmmmm…. around seven, I think.  Maybe a little older.  I can’t remember for sure.  But somehow my Mom had acquired an old Underwood typewriter whose vintage was probably 1930s or so.  It weighed in at about 700 pounds and took two grown men and a block-and-tackle to move it.

When I found out that it could be used to make letters appear on paper, I was instantly hooked!

I was really into mystery stories at the time.  Whenever I went to the library (which was pretty much every day), I always looked for mystery stories.  I read The Three Investigators and the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and any book at all whose title started with “The Mystery of the ….” or “The Case of the ….

So, naturally, the first thing I wrote was a mystery.   Or, more precisely, the first chapter of a mystery story.  (A chapter that ran a mind-boggling 2 pages … almost.)  The chapter title was called, “The Mysterious Thing!”

I was nothing, if not vague.  Always keep the reader guessing.

My writing style back then could be called “Faulkner-ian” in that I did not believe in paragraphs, proper spacing, or punctuation.  This would cause me problems in my school career in the form of bad grades, and a distinct lack of Nobel Prizes (none of which I found in the plastic tub I was rummaging through).

Anyway, this mysterious chapter would be but the beginning of dozens upon dozens of first chapters I would write in my life and then abandon almost instantly.

Soon To Be Erected On This Site ….

I think the oddest thing I found was a complete Erector Set.

It was all the way at the bottom of the tub and was being used as a sort of base for all of the junk on top of it.  I had forgotten I even had an Erector Set until I uncovered this one.  Ah, what fond memories!  Memories of razor sharp metal edges.  Memories of eye-gouging un-beveled corners on metal pieces.  Memories of there never being enough screws and bolts to put together the projects that came in the little booklet.

Good times.

And they lasted considerably longer than four hours.

In Summary …

I spent my entire Saturday going through that tub of mostly rubbish.  It brought back a lot of good memories.  And it completely filled up the recycling dumpster behind the house.  And it nearly burned out the motor in my paper shredder.

But isn’t that what good times are made of?

I will write more in future posts about some of the other “treasures” I found.


To Be Continued …


  1. Great post! I liked everything about this, especially that you also read the Three Investigators mysteries. I loved those as a kid, and shopped often at TG&Y, which I have not thought about in a long time.


  2. Enjoyed that post a lot. Darn u Biff, u have made me need to make a long comment…

    Cue the wayback machine now . . .. LOVED Jupiter Jones and the 3 Investigators series. John Fitzgerald’s Great Brain series, Tom Swift, the Hardy Boys, William in Trouble (English series I believe), all of them informed my writing. A book I loved was ‘Prairie School’ about children and families living on the Prairies dealing with adversity. Then, boom, I read The Shining and I saw the true power of a writing. Scared the pellets out of me! Will you be building with that Erector set in your spare time?

    The best toys were the ones with a possibility of seriously injuring you heh heh, I’m talking about you, water rocket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the Three Investigators, too, Wilt! I read every book of theirs I could my hands on. I must have read each one about ten times. I identified most closely to Bob Andrews (Records and Research) because I wore glasses and he was the only character I knew that wore glasses. I wasn’t Type-A enough to be Jupiter and I wasn’t athletic enough to be Pete Crenshaw … so Bob it was!

      And yes, weren’t those dangerous toys of our youth the absolute best? Jarts (aka Yard Darts), anyone? Throw a spear-tipped metal projectile up in the air towards the opposing team. What’s the worst that could happen?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. oh oh oh! I have some mystery plastic tubs, too! I say I’ll go through them…someday…
    I enjoyed hearing what you found in yours!
    My favorite store back in the day was T G & Y! Wish we still had them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The good thing about those old forgotten tubs is that the almost always provide ideas for new blogs posts! 🙂

      Yes, I loved TG&Y back in the day. Good stuff and friendly staff.

      We also had a Howard’s Department Store and a Gibson’s. It was a golden age of discount department stores. But Wal-Mart came along and ruined everything related to retail.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I may have to think on it awhile, about going through a tub or box or two. You’re right, it might be interesting to write about what I find. …We used to have a Gibson’s, too. Seems it was junkier than TG&Y (which was always arranged nice), but fun to go look around at the stuff they had. 🙂


  4. Biff! What a great flood of memories this generated for me just reading! Erector set! OMG. And the old checks. I’d love to say more but my dog is banging my typing hand… i’m taking the rest of the week off – to practice — after a Monday that was really minimal activity at work… managers, me, a couple very industrious others– and no support staff…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, NotDonner! I’m glad I was able to trigger some great memories for you. Even though our modern technology is superior in every measurable way, to me it fails in every unmeasurable way. The technology of our youth had soul. It connected us together. Modern technology, for the most part, drives us apart, I think. Of course, that is just my humble opinion.

      Here’s hoping your week off is awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh gosh, yes! I love the Three Investigators more than any other mystery series I ever read! I think I read them all … multiple times. I recently found 3 or 4 of them at my Mom’s house. I guess I had left them there when I went away to college. I was overjoyed to find them! I’m going to read them again soon to see if they held up over time.

      Liked by 1 person

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