The major dump in our area was down off Morton Avenue, on the site where Cardinal McCloskey Memorial High School now stands (the original, brand-new CCMHS that I graduated from, built on Elm Street in about 1956, was torn down just a few years afterward to build Rockefeller’s folly, the Albany Mall, which stands now in all its glory about where our various subsequent residences once did, with exception of the one I’m about to mention, on Hudson and South Swan); the dump was landfilling in one of the ravines that traversed the old layout of Albany. A more notorious ravine was the one we moved to in our tragic decline from the glories of Delaware Avenue to the desolate corner of Hudson and South Swan. That used to be the old execution grounds of early Albany: “Take ’em into the ravine and hang ’em…” A lot of nasty folks died ingloriously right about where our bedroom was, I reckon…
Ah yes: the dump, the early template of our eclecticism. That was where we could find old appliances worth a fortune today, old magazines that could ransom ten kings today, old comics I could have retired on years ago, old radios, earphones, batteries wires and sundry other items, you name them, for example the miraculously pristine statue of Saint Patrick I found and took home as a holy treasure. (What do indoctrinated kids know about the future? Those comics would have been way better than a plaster of paris idol that who knows where the hell it is today.) St. Pat was however absent his crookstaff, which God soon provided in the form of a deformed noodle that miraculously appeared in a bag of spaghetti in our pantry, strengthening my faith and proving that God also works through pasta, as Italians and Italian food lovers have always known.
That dump was also where Speed Harris and I invented the Frisbee®. Yes, it was in 1949 (the true birthdate of that world-renowned icon) that in the dump I found the lid® to an institutional mayonnaise jar® and Speed and I began skimming it back and forth to each other over longer and longer distances just to watch it hover magically as we walked home one quiet summer evening.
The lid made a nice noise, too, when we bounced it off the road in mid-flight, prototyping so many of those Frisbee® tricks, little suspecting that Walter Frederick Morrison, who “invented” theFrisbee in 1950 (note date proximity) and later successfully marketed it through Wham-o®, was driving slowly past at the time, seeking a way to make trillions of dollars with no credit whatsoever to me and Speed. Such is life. Speed and I were not consulted and had no idea that Morrison had purloined our device until the “technical marvel” of the Frisbee® came out. At the age of ten I didn’t have a lawyer. (All the many other versions of the origins of the Frisbee® are mere spin, to conceal these facts.) Even now I still have to put the ® after the name. But least I experienced the miracle of spaghetti and got a statue of Saint Patrick, wherever the hell he is.