I Wuz Just thinking: Dumpster Diving Fashions

High-fashion treasures pulled from a dumpster. Photo: Instrucables

You never know what kind of high-fashion treasures you might find in the piles of trash that others have left behind.

Picture this: Concord, California, 1968 (as Estell Getty, “Ma” on the Golden Girls television program might say).

Son, baby Robert, was three weeks old when we took a flight from the Dallas-Ft Worth airport to California to meet up with his Daddy, who was working there.  He met us at the airport and we went to a motel to spend the night. We did not yet have an apartment or place to live.

No bed for baby, so took out the center desk drawer and set it on the top of desk, linen the drawer with baby blankets for safety.  There he slept during his first night in sunny California.

The next day, we were fortunate to find a one bedroom apartment.  I noticed a Texas license plate in the parking space next to ours. Soon, the neighbors saw our Texas plates and knocked on the door to introduce themselves.

Betty Mahurin Baker

It was ironic that they had lived in Kilgore, but we not know one another until meeting in Concord.  Carl and Vida Carnathan and their two little boys became our best friends.

Vida gave me wonderful advice about caring for baby Robert.  Carl and Bob became best buds and enjoyed going to the river to pan for gold on the weekends.

One day the guys called us to let us know they were on the way home and had a surprise for us.  Vida and I were so excited, wondering what they might have purchased for us, just knowing they had thought about us on their day trip.

When they arrived, we met them at the car to claim our gifts.  Laughing, both men held up an old worn-out tennis shoe they had found on the trail. They thought they had really pulled a funny joke on us.

One morning while Vida and I went for our exercise walk, pushing the baby in his carriage, we came across an over-flowing dumpster.  It was filled with men’s clothes.

Most apartments’ dumpsters are usually quite full. Dwellers were always moving in and out of apartments, and many of them left behind their clothes. The land lord merely tossed the clothes into the dumpsters.

We looked at that over-flowing dumpster.  It was as if a light bulb came on in our minds at the same moment.


As we prowled, Vida found a pair of dress slacks that, with a little alteration, would fit Carl.  I pulled out a sport coat that needed cleaning.  We both found dress shirts, the right size for each of our husbands.  We took the clothes to the dry cleaners.

We kept quiet about our morning venture.  After a few days, we told our husbands we wanted to be taken to dinner at a nice restaurant, and we had something “new” for them to wear.

Innocent as lambs, they both were pleased with their new attire, and off to the restaurant we went.  About midway through the delicious meal, Vida and I looked at each other and began to giggle.  We asked the men how they liked the “new” clothes they were wearing so proudly.  We then reminded them about the old worn out tennis shoe they had gifted us.  Then, we told them about our dumpster diving.

Both men were quite vain and could not even fathom the thought of going dumpster diving, much less wearing something that came from a strangers’ dumpster.

Both men turned quite pale. They did not see the humor that Vida and I were enjoying.

In the future, when the men said they had a gift for us, it was not a gag gift, but something nice.  

We can each gain happiness in different ways as I wuz jus thinking.

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