Anoka County History: Times have and haven’t changed

“Slop the pigs.” That’s an old saying you don’t hear anymore. Right by the old sink there was always the old slop pail where the potato peelings and other kitchen scraps were tossed. Each day, after supper, someone had to take it out to the pig pen or chicken coop and toss it over the fence. Many folks who were into gardening would bury it between the rows in the garden. I suppose we could call that the original recycling.

Then, we progressed into indoor plumbing which included sewage systems which meant that everything went down stream – to the next village. Then that village would repeat the process and send it downstream to the next village and on and on to eventually reach the ocean. It really was not that long ago. Almost everyone in my age bracket (90)can remember most of the above.

I thought about all of the above after reading a recent article in the Star Tribune about the city of Minneapolis planning to pick up food scraps and other organic items by next year. There are a number of other metro area cities who already do that. Right now Minneapolis recycles 37 percent of its trash. They want to do like San Francisco, which does 77 percent, and Seattle, which does about 56 percent.

The old landfill in Ramsey, which I call Ramsey nountain, is mostly trash from the city of Anoka. Now it is, or could be, the best snowboard hill around.

There is a treasure under John Ward Park near West Main Street in Anoka. When I purchased the Chrysler dealership on West Main, we tossed a lot of old parts into that landfill. I wish I would have saved them. They are worth a lot of money now.

There is an awful lot of old Anoka under Riverdale where the old city dump used to be. Most everyone back then heated with wood or coal and had a large ash heap out back to be hauled away in the spring cleanup. If you heated with coal there was always lots of coal dust when Freeburg Fuel or Rum River Lumber delivered coal to your coal bin.

Most people had vegetable gardens back then. Some folks even planted corn or potatoes in their boulevards. Sometimes kitchen trash went in the ground in the boulevards to act as fertilizer.

Once, when my Dad took a load of trash to the dump, he came home with an old beat-up, rusty wagon. He took parts from it and added to my own wagon and built me the longest kid’s wagon in town.

My mother-in-law always went to the dump with my father-in-law, so he would not bring more home than he hauled there. He was very good at fixing things, like my Dad, and loved to give new life to something someone tossed out.

There is a gentleman here at the Walker, where I live, that can make any old piece of wood look like new. His name is Loran Mosman and he was a shop teacher at Wadena.

I hope you enjoyed all of the historic information. I also hope you believed it. Remember I was there. Now I gotta go slop the pigs.

Tom Ward serves on the board of directors for the Anoka County Historical Society.

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