During the school year I am a high school history teacher. During the summer I am the manager of my family business.
My family owns a "C&D Processing Facility and Transfer Station." What this means is that we have a facility where junk removal companies, construction companies, etc. and even the general public bring us "clutter" they remove from attics, basements, garages, construction sites, etc. We even rent out large dumpsters that people fill with things they don't want anymore. We process and sort the material and then send it out for recycling.
Often, family members would rather throw out a loved one's belongings instead of sorting through it and bringing up sad memories. As you can imagine, we have come across some very valuable things. In addition, people can be very ignorant of the value/ historical relevance of things. Although I have yet to see it, I am sure there are people out there have seen a German helmet w Swastika decal... and they freak and would throw it out.
We always try to return lost items to their rightful owners, but often people do not care and do not want to be bothered by it...
We have found... puppies and kittens, wads of money hidden in mattresses and couches, jewlery, locked safes filled with stamp and coin collections, weapons, crates filled with unopened bottles of scotch from the 1940-60s...
"Big Box Stores" often bring us dumpsters FILLED with brand new items that went on clearance but never sold (lawn mowers, chain saws, snow blowers, clothing, etc.)... I guess it costs less for them to throw it out rather than reprocess it and send it back to their warehouses or manufacturer.
Of course we OFTEN come across weird and private things like "adult toys" and naughty pictures of wives, girlfriends, etc.
(Side Note: PLEASE properly dispose of/ SHRED banking documents, personal documents, and things like naughty pictures of you/ your loved ones... just because you put it into the garbage can does not mean it's gone forever. My family are good people, but I'm sure there are TONS of bad guys out there that could take advantage of your misfortune.)
From time to time we also find militaria! In the past I found an M1 Carbine, WW2 era USMC webbing, vietnam era M1 helmet, and of course numerous photo albums.
Unfortunately, our workers use heavy equipment and often valuables are spotted too late...
ANYWAY! I thought I'd share finds from the garbage when they come in. Militaria doesn't come in every day, but I'll be sure to post pictures and descriptons when they do.
Yesterday, a West Point cadet's hat came in. Unfortunately it was crushed by a machine before my cousin was able to find it. The metal badge on the front is a little bent, but is in good shape otherwise. The two metal studs on either side of the hat are also in good shape. I'm sorry the pictures do not show this, but the back of the hat is pretty shredded up. Inside the hat there is a paper tag with the cadet's name, his unit at West Point and his graduation year (1976). I found a website with an e-mail listing for the cadet (who is now at least 60yrs old) and I sent him an e-mail to try to get him his hat back.
I'll be sure to post more militaria as it comes in. Thanks for looking!