THE DUMP AT SHORT BEACH

Those that grew up in Lordship during the period when the dump at Short Beach was in full operation still remember the stench that emanated daily and would cover vast sections of Lordship when the wind blew the wrong way. The choking smell and usual fires from the dump kept property values in that section of Lordship down for decades. Today the area has been capped and is now a landfill for biodegradable brush, leaves and trees.

April 25, 1947: DUMPING SITE SHIFTED: The town has made the usual spring shift in the site for dumping refuse in order to develop parking land. Deposits were made during the winter at the rear of the Short Beach cottages; now they are being made adjacent to Short Beach Road and Main Street. The ground filled during the winter will be available for parking autos during the coming season and next fall the dumping will return to that region for the cold weather.

April 16, 1971 - CITY STUDYING DUMP SITE: The city of Bridgeport may require the town of Stratford to halt dumping operations at the town's Lordship dump off Short Beach Road, Stratford. The city attorney's office has asked the city engineer to survey the dump and see if it's intruding on Bridgeport-owned land. City attorney, J. Edward Caldwell said that if it is found that dump operations are trespassing and if no conditions of the deed are found to permit this, he will ask the town to halt the trespass. "If they don't stop we'll take further action" he said. Mr. Caldwell said the city previously transferred about three acres near the dump to Stratford ownership for dump purposes. The land is near the Bridgeport airport, situated in Stratford. He said he recently received complaints that dumping operations have extended outside of this area, onto certain land still owned by Bridgeport. The announcement comes following complaints yesterday that a fire at the dump produced enough smoke to severely handicap airplane landings and takeoffs. Acting Superintendent of Operations Morgan Kaolian said yesterday that "the smoke was the worst we've had in a long time." As a result, air traffic was diverted from the "cross winds" runway near the dump, Mr. Kaolian said. A number of flyers reportedly were preparing appeals to Stratford Health, department director Chester Haberlin, Town Manager Joseph Venables, state Health department Solid Waste director Charles Kurker and elective officials to seek an end to open burning at the dump. They will also seek support from Protect Your Environment club of Stratford in their efforts, a spokesman said. Stratford officials stated that the town must conduct open burning at the dump in order to reduce the volume of dumped materials. They explained that the town is rapidly running out of space to deposit the materials and open burning is utilized as a reduction method. Stratford fire officials said that yesterday's fire occurred when burning operations under a Health department permit got out of hand and reached a pile of trees, causing the black smoke to billow into the air. Firefighters were at the scene for nearly 10 hours until 7:55 p.m. to insure that the flames would not erupt again. Firefighters also returned to the town dump one half hour later at 8:27 p.m. and remained until 9:05 p.m., wetting down the area.

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May 2, 1975 - A WORKERS IMPRESSION OF THE STRATFORD DUMP by Bob Sorenson: At 8:00 am our red pick up truck rolled through the gate of a ten foot high page fence into the town dump. Our boss who was driving swerved right and bounded along close to the fence. I could hear bottles hidden in the weeds smash under out wheels. We ran over heaps of paper and bounced over rubber tires. Then we stopped. OK I want the area from the fence fifty yards in towards the dump to be cleaned up where the tractors can not get at the stuff, yelled our boss. He was short with straight black hair. A red and grey dump truck pulled up alongside him. Throw all the stuff in here, he pointed at the dump truck and then he will go and dump the stuff up there where it is supposed to be. He pointed again. My eyes followed his finger. Up there was the middle of the dump. My eyes scanned ever growing heaps of garbage until I noticed two yellow tractors like ants on a hillside pushing and burying the waste. Lets get moving cried our boss. I slipped on a pair of gloves and walked through some weeds to the metal fence. There were six of us, all college students on summer employment in the town highway department. We found that part of the departments work was cleaning up the dump. That morning it was warm. It was mid-May. The spring rains had rolled off the mountain in the middle of the dump and settled along the fence. We waded through the muddy green water picking at stacks of paper and sheets of plastic with rakes. The dump truck could not back down all the way. Its wheels started sinking. We had to scoop up the debris and trek back up to the truck to deposit it. As I was working, I noticed a steady stream of traffic flowing into the dump. The cars stopped at a station, close to the entrance where men inspected the cargo. Then the men directed the townspeople in various directions. The cars climbed the mountain. At the top they backed up to a cliff, then flipped open their trunks. Cans came flying out, white papers and magazines floated down into the gulleys. Old metal chairs, bent and rusty rattled down the hillside. Another car backed up to the cliff. The man opened his trunk and pulled out pieces of wood. He flung old aluminum windows into the air, their glass shattered when it hit the pile. I turned back to my work and dug my rake into the water. I fished out an old paint can and walked up the hill and tossed it into the back of the truck. I pulled out beer bottles and a large plastic toy rocking horse. I dug deeper and brought out a pair of jeans, brown and heavy with water. As we unearthed the garbage, a stagnant sour milk odor permeated the air. The sun baking down on our backs made us nauseous. A thought struck me. The earth is growing sick from all the stinking waste shoved below her surface. Barges brimming with garbage dump it in the sea. The earth can not digest all that rotten material. The earth keeps throwing the garbage back up and we keep cramming it back down. We push the waste and add on weight. There are tons and tons of excess waste each day. I looked back at the dump truck. It was already half full. Someone tossed a tire into the back of the truck. It bounced around, water sloshing from its inner rim. Another guy called to us for help. There was an old pink couch sitting upright its cushions soaked with water. It took six of us to lift it onto the truck. When we tossed it in, the back of the couch ripped open and a stream of water and worms flowed out. I looked back up at the mountain. The town garbage trucks were now filing into the dump. They lumbered along like red and yellow elephants. There was a special road which led to a different cliff on the mountainside. They whined open their mouths and arched their backs. Bags of grass clippings tumbled out. I thought that was a good idea. The grass would decompose, but the plastic bags would never break down. The earth will choke on them and spit them back up. Our truck was full. As it rode away we threw aluminum cans at it. They were everywhere. The white and red Budweiser beer cans glistened, while the faded red Pepsi cans seemed lost among brown sandy soil. Green 7-UP cans were camouflaged neatly in the high weeds. I watched the dump truck shift as it meandered up and around stack of garbage. One of the tractors was sitting waiting for the truck to dump. After the truck disgorged its load the tractor plowed through the trash. Another town truck came and dumped dirt on top of the garbage. The tractor rolled over it, smoothing the dirt over both the couch and the cans and piles of paper and plastics. It was covering up the evidence. But it was wrong of us to mass produce glass and stamp no deposit-no return on each bottle for the sake of convenience. We are not going to get away with it. No deposit-no returns will continue to pop up on our landscape and haunt us. My boss came walking by me. I said, Hey Jake, what do they do with all the refuse they collect in town each day? They dump it at the incinerator where it is burned in ovens. Have you ever smelled the black smoke coming from the brick chimney at the incinerator? I shook my head no. His eyes opened wide and he grinned. He pointed at the murky pools of water lying under the fence. You think that is bad, you would not want to work at the incinerator, he said. After lunch I strolled around the dump. I had to be careful where I walked. I noticed sharp rusty pieces of metal sticking out of the dirt that could easily slice through my shoes. I followed a path that took me past a hill of rubber tires. There were thousands of round tubes sitting in the hot sun. That could they do with all of them? I heard the town sells the old tires to a rubber company which melts the old rubber down to make retreads for tractor trailer trucks. I have seen the greenish-black smoke of rubber burning, bellowing into the sky. The smell always makes me choke. I came upon rows of shining white ovens and refrigerators. Some had been stripped their doors ripped off and the insides gutted with rust. The sun gleamed on the silver dials of the ovens. I came upon a heap of old bicycle parts. It was like a mound of metal bones. Twisted handle bars, bicycle frames and bent cross bars sat still, collecting rust. A car pulled up and was inspected by one of the town employees. The man got out of his car and opened the trunk. Venetian blinds, old curtains, a suitcase filled with old brown books and plastic bags with leaves were stuffed inside. The employee directed the man to take a sharp right and continue straight toward the tractor. The man slammed his trunk close and said it has changed since last time I was here. I used to go up in back there. That is all filled up now. Can not go any higher or we will go over the fence, said the employee. The man said, I hear the town is already looking for another spot to make a dump. Would not doubt it. I will give this place another year and we will be dumping somewhere else. I figured it was time to be getting back to work. I ran through some weeds and up a small hill. Finally I got back to our truck. They were just picking up the shovels and rakes. I grabbed my rake and went down to the fence. We figured out a system which would alleviate a lot of leg work. The crew with rakes would dig the garbage out and the other crew would shovel it onto the truck. I looked to the fellow next to me. The prongs of his rake dug into a cardboard box. Hey the guy at the entrance says this dump is going to be filled in a year. Who cares, he replies and then kicked the box off the end of his rake.

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