OUR "BEST DUMP"
Among the hundreds of California cans on my shelves there is a lone row of Chicago cans. Actually they are cans from the Best brewing Co of Chicago. These were the cans that got me into dumping. I have since upgraded the oringinal dump cans but heres's the rest of the story.
Back in the Spring of 1974 , in Suburban Chicago, beer can collecting was all the rage. A great deal of kids in my jr high were collecting cans. We all were trying to outdo each other by aquiring as many cans as possible. In those days it was quantity instead of quality. These were all pull tabs. At the time I thought the coolest can was the white Hamms perferred stock . We "hated" the kid whose dad was an airline pilot because he was always coming up with "exoctic" cans.
My brother and I were introduced to dumping by a weird kid who had just moved from Texas. His name was Joe Herdzina. He had hundreds of cans. His collection were very impressive. We saw brands like Bulldog , Pearl and Lone Star and others that we had never seen before. He stacked his cans parymid style with playing cards near the corners to allow the whole wall to be filled up. My brother knocked them down at least three times that summer much to Joe's dismay! He showed us cans the had to be opened with a can-opener and he had lots of types like that. He also knew where to find them. After school we would jump on our bikes and head out to the near by farm dumps. We dramatiacally increased the size of our collections that way, although our mother threw away our first dump finds. She didnt want those dirty cans in her house!
After the farm dumps were exhausted , we had to ride further and further for our quest for flat tops. Forest preserves proved to be a good source for cans. It was near a forest preserve that Ed and another kid found a huge dump. It seemed to be solid beer cans down the side of a hill. it was also very long. The top of the dump had lots of obsolete tabs like Drewrys (3 dif), Drewrys bock , Falstaff (3 dif),Stags (3 dif),Schmidts. One had to go through 2 feet of tabs to get to the Flat tops. Ed had grabbed some cans and took them home. He showed them to Joe who couldnt' wait to get out there. One great can Ed brought home the first time was a nice grade 2 Maverick by Best. Ed traded it to Joe for a Budweiser malt Liquor 16 oz!!!!YIKES!.
There were literally thousands of cans in the dump and the most predoment can was Best beer from Chicago. Well almost all the flat tops were cans from the Best brewing co of Chicago. There were Tudors beer and cream ale, 7-11s,Red Foxes and Hillmans. We worked this dump all summer finding more cans like Best ale, Best 16oz,Embassy club beer and ale and Hapsburgs. Since this was our first major dump we made lots of mistakes. At times we dug were pitch forks! We also shovel killed a lot of cans. At first we would carry the cans home in plastic garbage bags , later we learned to use boxes.There was also lots of food items in with the beer cans. It was great fun to break the half jar of 20 year old mayonaise in our buddies trench, releasing an awful stench.We called them mystery jars because you never knew what it was or how bad it would stink once we broke them open.We kind of made a game of that. We eventually found almost all the cans made by Best except never did find an Easy Life. The Mavericks were the scarcest. Never did find a better one than the one Ed traded to Joe. The only other non-Best flat i rememebr finding in there was a Hoff Brau from Allied brewing of Chicago. Since we going to that dump a couple times a week,we had lots of traders now. Much to the upset of mothers , we were filling lots of kids collections with rusty dumpers!
After all the "cream" was removed the condition of the cans suffered greatly. We werent finding the quantity or quality as earlier. One day Ed had hit some tar paper and uncovered 6 Best quart cones. Those were the best cans ever uncovered out of there. It makes you wonder if those sold into the fifties because I dont remember any IRTP cans in that dump. Also there were no Meister brau or Canadian Ace Brands either.
That summer of 1974 sure was fun. We went back to that dump in 1996 and there was nothing left ,just cripsy peices of rust. It was a little hard to find because now there were lots of housing complexes around wiping out our old landmarks. At the time the cans then were only 20 years old and showed their age so after another 15 years ,forget it ! It was great to find a dump of that size to introduce us to the joys of