OMG. After 18 years, the city of Waterville has dispatched the big trucks to come to your house and swallow the huge chunks of your dark past.

I rush to tell you that there will be no mountain of debris in front of our house. It would have horrified my mother to do that, and She — who long ago replaced my mother — feels the same.

Besides, we kept all nine mattresses throughout the Great Depression; it’s an Irish thing.

As for myself, I have little to offer. Well, there are a few unmovable items for this horse to heft. They will have to wait until the next 18-year pick up. I will leave those items in my will for the kids.

Married for 63 years to She, who has kept many of her Maine family’s belongings intact, including the breakfront full of the silver, dinnerware and glasses, her hesitation makes sense, you don’t put ruby glass, Havilland and Wedgewood dinnerware on the curb.

On the second week of the “diaspora of debris,” I took a break at noon to crawl along the byways of my adopted village to behold the tattered remnants you all kept hidden in your attics, garages and basements.


Remember “Frasier’s” father’s tattered chair? I counted six of them.

I was surprised to see so many mattresses and cooking appliances, chairs, sofas and barbecue grills. How about those old toys once beloved by children now in college or far away in uniform? Really?

Well, maybe my eyes were stained by memories of stuff we left behind when we left the City of Angels. I can remember retrieving an elaborate board game my youngest created and the girls’ first school shoes autographed by friends. I still have them.

You may be shocked by this or amused. In New York in the early days when four or five actors and myself shared walk up bare wall one bedroom apartments, we would walk the streets on Friday and pick up discarded sofas, beds, chairs and even framed mementos to perk up our “pads.”

You have to remember that actors and dancers, as they moved through their careers, kept moving up from “crummy” to “barely decent” to “almost
“palatial,” and as they moved, they left really great furniture behind on the curb, knowing that their still struggling brothers and sisters of show business would rescue them.

My many roommates and I would prowl the concrete jungle looking for a coffee table or couch.


It’s part of the legends of the past now, but when Barbra Streisand went from a walkup to Broadway, two of my friends got her old bedroom lamp.

When my then-roommate Bob and I remained on West 84th Street, we would keep an eye on 273 across the street, where a good friend of ours, a young gay dancer with City Center Ballet, lived.

Sebastian, not his real name (but close), has long ago passed from us, and would love reading this.

A gentleman from his bow ties to his clock socks, he lived with collectibles and classy furniture, but when he changed roomies like he changed the sheets, he would put their stuff and anything they touched on the curb. Bob and I ran over in the dark, and carried a puffy lavender French sofa home through the traffic. It turned many a head.

Such were the days, and like that City That Never Sleeps, long gone.

I should add that as I searched your streets, I spied at least three looting couples from away, picking through the collectibles of years past and dashing off in the twilight with their loot.

Hurray for them. But they didn’t get Barbara’s bedroom lamp.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: