Another Man’s Trash

Another Man’s Trash

Sunday Photo Fiction is a weekly challenge, hosted by yours truly, to write a 200-word story based on a photo prompt. This week’s photo is courtesy of C.E. Ayr. I am sure there will be many interesting stories this week, so why not wander over there and read for few. Or better yet, write your own story and add to the collection.  You can find this week’s challenge  HERE

Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

Now for this week’s story, inspired by my grandparents. 

Grady had one goal in life: to make his wife Emma happy.

It had not been easy. After the crash of ’29, times were tough, but Grady’s cotton farm provided a place to sleep and food to eat. But when the ‘black rollers’ brought billowing clouds of dust across the Texas panhandle, his farm eroded into nothing. Taking only what would fit in the back of the 1928 black Ford pickup, Grady and Emma headed for California, unsure what the future would bring.

Grady landed a job in Los Angeles as a trash man. Picking up garbage paid less than white men’s wages, but Grady was happy for the job. His partner was an older black man named Leroy.

“You won’t believe what these white folks throw away.” Leroy said. “Keep what you want and sell it.”

Leroy’s words rung true. Despite the Depression, the trash cans of wealthier families were full of useful items. At their last stop, Grady noticed an Oriental teapot sitting on top of the kitchen trash.

Emma would be thrilled. All her teapots had been left behind in Texas. This would be the start of a new collection.


When my grandparents moved from Texas to California in the early 1930s, my grandfather spend some time as a trash collector in an affluent neighborhood. Many of the things that my grandmother gave me came from his days as a trash collector. They had been poor cotton farmers before moving to California and the idea of throwing away perfectly good items perplexed her. Below is a photo of the teapot featured in the story.

photo credit: Susan Spaulding