On a Sunday afternoon this summer on my way to a coffee shop, I parked my car on the side of West Beaver Avenue, a road that cuts through a leafy neighborhood adjacent to downtown. The residents are primarily college students, you know, real salt of the earth inhabitants. Rather than measure worth by monetary gain, stature is gauged by seconds spent standing upside-down atop a keg, or by swiftness of movement after lighting a couch on fire in the middle of the street. The simplistic beauty of this lifestyle reminds me of late 19th-century America, when men and women lived off the land and daily alcohol consumption stood at about a liter per capita.
I live a half-mile away from the student neighborhood in a subdivision known as College Heights. The neighborhood, for the most part, houses professors and their families. It’s kind of quiet. It is famously where Joe Paterno lived for most of his life. The houses and the inhabitants are old, the structures and the humans dating back to the 1930s.
Trash pickup here is on Monday mornings. Yellow bags rest on yellowing lawns. There is nothing else to the curbside landscape. The opposite is true in the Beaver Avenue neighborhood. Trash heaps, nearly every week of every week, are like free stores. I’ve seen skis, computer speakers, mattresses, dressers, desks, lamps, Dodge Vipers and actual vipers. Whatever does not work for you will work for someone else. One man’s venomous snake is another man’s treasure. Continue reading