S***-canning the Cans

My daughter had an idea which she shared with her
brothers and my wife and I. Simply, it was a way to de-
clutter the house by picking a 31 day month and
discarding one thing on the first of the month, two on
the second, and so forth. If followed through to the
31st, one would have gotten rid of 496 old, out-dated,
useless,  and ill-fitting stuff. My wife and I entered into
this project eagerly, because even though we are
“empty nesters”, the house seems to have actually
become smaller since the kids left.

So, from my end, countless old neckties, pants with a
34 inch waist (all the special diets that were ever
invented are never going to get me back to a 34 waist),
jackets that haven’t seen the outside of a closet in
years and other “valuable “ articles of clothing found
their way into the garbage or took a trip to Goodwill.

My workbench was not exempt. In a drawer I found 8,
count ‘em, 8 sets of casters that over the years had
been removed from broken desk chairs before they were
thrown out and stored with the idea “Who knows? You
never know when you might need a set of casters.” In
43 years of owning my house I have NEVER had a need
for a set of casters, so out they went, along with about
1000 other bits of useless hardware, hinges, chains,
etc. that had been neatly organized, labeled and saved
for a future date when they might have some use, a
date that so far has not arrived. Cans of paint,
hardened tins of silver polish, containers of grout and
the like all made their way to the garbage.

My collections also felt the onslaught of the downsizing
frenzy: fifty years worth of minor league baseball
scorecards from such diverse teams as the Pittsfield
Rangers, Charleston Rainbows, Newark Bears and
Reading Phillies, and totaling over fifty different ballparks
were burned in the fire pit, right before over 100 old
railroad timetables were also fed to the conflagration.

A seabag full of Marine Corps uniforms, including two
sets of greens, two sets of dress blues, 2 sets of dress
whites, 3 sets of “trops”, 2 sets of khakis, 3 sets of
utilities, an overcoat, raincoat and all kinds of hats,
belts, etc. were looked at with fond remembrance of a
more youthful person, before they, too, went the way
of the casters.

The storage areas, attic, garage, and basement were
starting to look much bigger, and this brings me to the
beery aspect of this article, which after all, is supposed
to be about beer.

In the late 1960’s I started saving beer cans. Each time
a new state was visited local cans always found their
way back to New Jersey. Each time a brewery such as
Iron City or Falstaff would issue  set of collectible or
commemorative cans, that beer would become my
temporary favorite. 1976 was can collector’s utopia as
practically every brewery issued special bicentennial
cans. All these cans were proudly displayed on the walls
of my three season screened in back porch. (Way too
cold to sit out there in winter). But the back porch had
to go when the house was enlarged, so the cans were
all packed into boxes and shoved into a dark room in
the cellar.

Over the next 30 years more cans went in, in the vague
hope that someday I’d have another place to display
them. Over those same 30 years, which correspond
almost exactly to the amount of time I’ve been married
to my second bride, many questions were asked by her
such as “Why do you keep saving those things”, and
“What are you going to do with all that shit?”. I finally
began to agree with her, told my kids to sell them on E-
Bay, and said whatever they made was theirs. Not much
interest, either by them or potential buyers. I kept
telling my wife that SOMEBODY would want them, to
which she’d reply “Only another nut like yourself”.

So I made the agonizing decision to “shitcan” the cans,
which now totaled about 1500. I took all of the cartons
out to the deck, sat with a beer close at hand. and went
through each box can by can and happily remembering
where I had gotten them: a beautiful Fyfe and Drum can
from a trip to Cooperstown, a can of Garden State beer
purchased in San Francisco, a sixteen ouncer of Robin
Hood Ale found in a liquor store in Sussex County and
of course several leftover cans of Foecking Beer,
obtained somewhere purely so that I would have the
pleasure of asking guests if they perhaps would like a
Foecking beer.

One by one they were all pitched into the recycling can,
which soon filled up, then the other garbage cans, then
the leaf collection cans, and finally several garbage cans
borrowed from my neighbors. The final total came to 11
garbage cans, even after many of the cans had been
squashed. 1500 beer cans do take up room. The space
in my cellar’s loss is the recycling center’s gain. On
Monday morning the garbage men must have thought
there was a hell of a party over the weekend.

A pleasant surprise in sorting through all the cans was
that I found 4 full ones: a can of Ballantine Beer brewed
in Newark, meaning it was pre-1972, a can of Mardi Gras
Beer from 1983, a can of Harley Davidson Beer, brewed
by Pabst, from 1985 and an original Rheingold Chug-a-
Mug, brewed in Orange. These were taken to the next
Draught Board 15 meeting where the braver souls in
attendance all had a taste. They weren’t as bad as we
thought they might be.

The room in the cellar is now empty and I’ve lost no
sleep nor become distraught over the loss of my
precious cans. (Probably because my collections of 200
beer trays, 300 openers, 2000 labels, 300 brewery
brochures and 400 beer glasses are still intact). I’ll let
my kids worry about that stuff when I’m gone.


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