Thursday, August 4, 2011

Findings from Spectacle Island

Findings From Spectacle Island

1.) Porcelain. Due to the curved nature of this porcelain, I'm deducing that it was once a piece of a toilet from the ward rendering factory that operated on Spectacle Island. Mahum Ward's dock was a factory that used materials from dead horses to produce fertilizers, glue, hides, and leather softener. In 1903, the CIty of Boston comstructed a garbage processing plant and compressed garbage to extract grease and make fertilizer. This is likely one of the scrap pieces of porcelain that has likely been on this beach for at least a century. I can picture them throwing a toilet into a garbage area, and not being consciousness enough to gather all of the scrap pieces.

2.) Asbestos. Pieces of asbestos such as this one are seldom found on Spectacle Island. These pieces of asbestos are not native to the island but have washed ashore from an off island source. I am not certain this is asbestos but one of the island ranger's named Kim told me that pieces of asbestos are reddish beige and tend to sometimes be triangularly shaped. She said that it was more than likely that this was asbestos. If it is not asbestos, it is brick or clay from 1992 when "The Big Dig" was under construction. Pieces of clay and sediment excavated from the project were brought to Spectacle.

3.) Bottle Neck. This artifact was most likely once a liquor bottle. It could have got to the island from blue collar workers being saucy and drinking on their break. During the prohibition era there were seldom "raids" at the workplace. Where this factory was on an island, I would venture to guess that Spectacle Island was a relatively safe place to have a relaxing bottle of tub gin.

4.) Hardened Grease or Cyanoacrylate. At first glance I originally thought that this was simply a piece of broken glass but the air bubbles trapped inside tell a different story. Judging by it's light weight it is more than likely that this sample is a compound of hardened glue or grease. This could have been a scrap from a molding that workers didn't feel it was necessary to capture. It may of even been a bit of hardened glue that was scraped off of the floor and never made it to a secure garbage location. This specimen had a smoother texture compared to similar looking glass findings, and when I tried to scratch the surface of it, it was not peeling with ease but it had a very rubbery texture like a rubber ball. It also had a coating of sand stuck to it.

5.) Cup. This teacup could have found it's way to Spectacle Island any number of ways. It's edges are smooth so this is evidence that it also has been on the island for a number of decades. At first I believed that this was simply garbage dropped off circa 1942 but then I gave it a second thought and realized that this was among other similar looking cup pieces. It was no coincidence. This must have been a part of the same set. This set could have been used on an observation platform where a supervisor would overlook the grease pressing operation. Although this or something like this can be picked up at a Wal-Mart today relatively inexpensively, this was no doubt a luxary item reserved for those of an upper class.

6.) Plate. This plate could have been used by offshore civilians and wound up on the island simply as a result of the land fill. Or, this could have been used by the upscale bed and breakfast Inns located on Spectacle island. This was most likely used by citizens who were in an upper class and could afford such luxurious accommodations. In 1738, Spectacle made a legitimate effort to attract tourists as a destination for fun. Two summer themed Inns were open to wealthy guests until the late 1850s. This was before businessman Nahum Ward realized he could make a lot of money building a horse rendering factory on this land.

What Happens to My Trash?
After my trash is out out onto my sidewalk it is picked up by JC Waste Removal. Once it is loaded onto the garbage truck, the waste is carted off to Covanta Energy located in Haverhill Massachusetts. Covanta incinerates the waste using two, 825 ton-per-day waterwall furnaces with grates and ash handling system in order to have the most efficient and nature safe burning system available. Covanta burns 1,650 tons of waste per day. This may sound like a lot but people throw away a lot of unusable materials. These unusable materials sit on the lot of Covanta Energy's 147 acre campus until the can be properly sorted and incinerated. Covanta is aware of common negative associations with "dumps" so on it's website they mention that they dispose of waste responsibly using 5 random, yet re-assuring words. The words they chose are
  • Protection
  • Compliance
  • Conservation
  • Qualification
  • Commitment.
The workers at Covanta are "Certified" and that combined with the aforementioned 5 "principals" we are assured that as citizens of Lynnfield, we do not have to worry about our trash being washed away to an Island 3 miles off the shore of Boston.

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