Friday, July 12, 2013

Trash and treasures- stuff found in the river

For this post, I will be discussing the interesting and nasty things found in the river. Since my family bought this house in 1962, I have always combed the river and shoreline for interesting critters and objects. Since my husband I moved in, I have instituted a routine of fishing out any trash that floats up. About once a month, I have a large trash bag full of plastic and Styrofoam containers, beer cans, bottles and the occasional shoe which I mostly recycle.

Just a few weeks ago, a small refrigerator, complete with two scummy bottles floated up. Now, why would someone just throw this into the river?
Sometimes I hang on to the brightly colored or unusual things- and sort them out by category. This is some of the plastic stuff that floated in, including a rubber brain that the squirrels think is tasty. The two blue reflectors floated in a year apart.
Odd scraps of metal found along the shoreline-
Interesting bits and pieces of pottery-

Bits of broken glass

My big finds in the glass category are these 3 intact glass bottles, after finding one I started digging and unearthed two more. The small clear bottle is labeled Leon Hale, Apothecary, Tampa Fla, the larger brown bottle Warner Safe Remedies, Rochester N.Y. and the smaller brown bottle- Leonardi's Blood Elixir, The Great Blood Purifier, S.B. Leonardi & Co., New York and Tampa, Fla. I am thrilled by the two that reference Tampa, the original house was an old pharmacy building from south Tampa that was floated up the river on a barge, and I like to think these were somehow associated with that building. Unfortunately, the original house was destroyed in a hurricane in 1921, and the current house was built in the current location, further from the river on higher ground. Mrs. Rohrer salvaged a few bits and pieces and they still exist in a couple of doors downstairs.

Occasionally, toys float up- many still in a sealed package. I tend to keep them and give them away to visiting children, but here are a couple that remain. Our dog Sophie enjoys all of the balls that float up.
A few months ago two paperback books washed up on the shoreline. George Orwell's 1984 and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I fished them out because I found this curious- and imagined some young student throwing them in the river in frustration.
From childhood, one of my pleasures and treasures has been finding fishing lures and bobbins that some poor fisherman has lost to the elements. I have a tackle box full dating back to the 60's, these are a few of the more recent finds.

Occasionally, more unusual things float up such as the plastic wedding cake couple and the coconut spectacled monkey-
Some of the stranger things that float up, and that I don't mess with- are probably Santeria offerings-  roosters with the heads cut off, gourds with objects rattling around in them and mysterious bags with roots, bones and tobacco. Those I leave alone.

Since moving in, my mother and I have found and collected odd bits and pieces of fossilized coral. Large chunks which are fossilized coral heads probably around 35 million years old, and smaller pieces.

 My mother thought the large chunks were brought up the river as ballast (from Ballast Point) and thrown overboard as the river grew more shallow. But a find from several years ago now solves the mystery- a projectile point likely from the Florida Archaic period, roughly 2,000-5,000 BCE. A friend, Terry, who is an archeologist, helped identify and date this lovely knapped piece. The odd bits and pieces are evidence of ancient indians working on the chert (sometimes referred to as flint) found in the heart of the fossilized coral heads. Among them are several possible tools, and discarded worked objects. The projectile point (which shouldn't be called an arrowhead- bows and arrows had not been invented at this time)  counts as the most precious object I have ever found in the river.


  1. I find this rather awesome, and wish I lived in a place where I had bits of history wash up! Of course, I would think that some things are not so lovely....

  2. This is really interesting, especially since you can date it back to far! Thanks for sharing, and I agree, leaving the Santeria objects alone is a good decision.

  3. This is really fascinating, and I hope you do a regular follow up. The historical finds are amazing, but most of the rest makes me a bit sad when I realize how much "junk" people toss in our waterways. A fridge? Really? Sigh.

  4. I can see why you collect these items - they are fascinating! And that's a lot of stuff!