Home > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2017 >Daily Dispatch #240


Cardboard is the biggest money maker for VCRS. So an all-out effort has been waged to collect as much as possible. Vendors have been asked to set it aside for collection as have the maintenance workers. The response has been phenomenal. The cardboard just keeps a coming.

Yesterday was a slow day because fair attendance was down. Volunteers were encouraged to look in Red, Green, Purple, and Yellow trail nooks and crannies for cardboard – and they did, bringing it back by the cartload, some loads seemingly precarious because of their height, but carefully bungied in place. I assisted them in unloading their carts.

My primary job yesterday was to cut up and flatten the boxes that the maintenance people have been setting beside the dumpsters. I am now a whiz with the box cutter – I cut, flatten, toss. Sometimes I stomp, but not often. I’d be the champ if there was an Alaska State Fair cardboard sorting/cutting/tossing contest. Give me a strong wind, and an errant box, and I’m on it.

Due to low numbers, I had more time to think about the task at hand. These boxes – many were sturdy, well-constructed. It seemed a shame to me that they were being flattened. A volunteer who came in with a few unflattened boxes and when I said I’d give her a hand flattening them, said she was going to use them for moving.

Her sentiments and mine on the subject of boxes was the same. Like this hard working volunteer I have come to value a well-made box. As a child and teenager my mother, sister, and I moved often, usually in the same Rochester, N.Y. neighborhood. My mother thrived on starting things anew, and so this is what we did, repeatedly.

When Mother again announced that we were moving, my sister and I headed to Di Junes liquor store because they had the sturdiest boxes. We next went across the street and got a few more from Wegman’s Supermarket. And, if need be, we gathered a few more from behind Flanigan’s Furniture store.

The majority of the Flanigan’s Furniture boxes were far too large for packing. But the Muntz T.V. boxes were good for lightweight items such as clothing and blankets.

Ahh, but those larger boxes. After moving, we often returned and took those bigger boxes and constructed multi-level forts in our new backyard. Couch boxes were long and had wood frames. Recliner chair boxes had some height to them. Our building efforts were sometimes rewarded in that we were allowed to sleep outside on hot summer nights. Rain, that was a problem. Eleanor and I occasionally woke up surrounded by sodden cardboard. Nevertheless, we ate breakfast outside before heading in – usually Kellogg’s Cornflakes, which came in – cardboard boxes.

Cardboard boxes also came in handy my first semester of college. I attended the University of New Hampshire. I distinctly recall moving into a building that was a former nursing home. It was owned by a woman named Thelma Hooz. My room had absolutely no furniture. I hunted down a mattress. And I found cardboard boxes behind a local (you guessed it) furniture store. Two more boxes served as nightstand and another two as a desk top. I was further chagrined when I realized that I could also store clothes and books in boxes.

My cardboard décor was both functional and serviceable. I did, at the semester’s end, recycle. In a subsequent move, I used the boxes for moving again, this time to a new place, one that was just a stone’s throw from where I was then living. And it was semi-furnished.

The majority of the fair boxes are being recycled. Too bad they aren’t going to a cardboard warehouse, where those who need them could come and put them, in their entirety, to good use.

Next: 241. 9/2/17: Stuck in Fair Traffic – Taking it to the Streets
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