Saturday, March 04, 2006

Alice was a California Can Carrier

Alice was a California Can Carrier, or at least used to be a member of an organization by that name. She joined the California Can Carriers because her company, Vulcan Incorporated, primarily sold its baling wire to recyclers, and many of them were in the trash or garbage collection business.

When I met Alice in 1988, most trash collection was still being done by family owned businesses. In the San Francisco Bay Area, most of these families were Italian, and most of the owners and their family members had started in the business as can carriers themselves. Now they were prosperous, and looked the part.

Before we were married in 1989, I accompanied Alice to a couple of California Can Carrier Conventions. One was in Reno, and another in Monterey. My first impressions came when we were parking our car. Our car was by far the cheapest in the parking lot. The next impressions were that everyone at the convention spent a lot more on their clothes than I did. And then I saw the California Can Carrier lapel pin.

The California Can Carrier lapel pin was basically a big solid chunk of gold fashioned into a garbage can. The garbage can was dented, and was twisted to the side with its lid askew. Out of the can dripped “garbage,” consisting of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc., not a cubic zirconium in the lot.

I thought the symbolism was pretty clear. In California, the 49'ers shouted, "There's gold in them thar hills!" The California Can Carriers lapel pins shouted, “There are fortunes in all that garbage!” Alice would agree.

To prove that point, in a few short years all the families were bought out by big national companies like Waste Management Inc., and as far as I know, California Can Carriers is no more.

Has anyone seen one of their lapel pins anywhere? E-Bay?

No comments: