Monday, September 23, 2013

OARS: Assabet River Clean-up, 2013

Volunteers enjoying pizza after the clean-up
Click on photos to enlarge

The annual river clean-up, which has been expanded to the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers - to reflect the morphing of the organization from OAR to OARS [website] - took place on September 21, 2013. The event was followed by free pizza and soda. As in past years, volunteers for the Maynard clean-up met at the Elks Lodge parking lot before going to locations scouted by OARS organizers.

The Assabet River was low and slow, which made for a good clean-up. There have been years in which the event was cancelled due to heavy September rains and thus dangerously fast-moving water.

Photos from this year's clean-up will be posted at the OARS website. Even though this was the 27th annual clean-up for the Assabet there still appears to be an almost infinite number of discarded tires.

Sixty year old bottle recovered from Assabet River
One of the interesting finds from this year's effort was an amber glass bottle embossed with the words CALDWELL'S RUM and the image of a three-masted sailing ship alongside a dock. On the dock, in the foreground, are barrels of rum. The bottle is seven inches tall, four wide, and two inches from front to back. The back is marked "ONE PINT."

Caldwell's Rum had a glorious history. The company was started by Alexander Caldwell in 1790, in Newburyport, MA. It was in the rum business until closed by Prohibition in 1919. After Prohibition was repealed, in 1933, the company was restarted by Alexander's descendants, but closed it's Newburyport operation in 1961. The company name (A. & G.J. Caldwell Company) still exists, but the only product - discount-priced vodka - is made by M.S. Walker, a Somerville, MA company.

Dating this year's river find was aided by markings on the bottom. "D-376" identified the distiller, in this instance, Caldwell's.  The numbers 9 and 53 signify the bottle-making factory and the year, making the bottle 60 years old. Between the two numbers is the letter H superimposed over an image of an anchor. This is one of the maker's marks used by the Anchor Hocking Glass company. From posts at Ebay and other sites the bottle's value is on the order of $10-20.

From my write-up just before the 2010 clean-up:

Corporate sponsors for the OARS clean-up efforts
"Clean-up tasks roughly divide into muckersheavers and drylanders. Muckers work in the river, either wearing waterproof waders or old pants, shirts and shoes that they are willing to get very, very, very, wet. Trash found in the river is loaded into canoes which serve as shallow draft barges to transport trash to the haul-out sites. Heavers work at the edge of the river. They remove trash from the canoes and either drag or heave it to the top of the riverbank. There, drylanders drag everything to the piles that will later be collected by Department of Public Works trucks. Drylanders also collect and bag trash that can be reached along the riverbanks without getting wet.

Part of the haul for 2013
"Tires are a perennial find. Ditto broken glass, beer cans and mysterious pieces of rusted steel. More unusual and harder to remove finds have included bus seats, a TV/stereo console, a dishwasher, a queen-size mattress and box spring set, and a three foot tall safe from the York Safe and Lock Company, with the door partially torn off. York made safes in YorkPA, starting in 1883, until it was bought by Diebold in 1946. How this safe ended up in the river is anyone’s imaginative guess.

"Independent from the OARS cleanup there is a National River Cleanup effort which was started around 1991 and involves the National Organization for Rivers and American Outdoors ( Over 300,000 volunteers participated nationally."