Last week I took a load of scrap metal to Anniston Scrap, which is a couple of blocks from Broad Street in downtown Rome. There is one several miles closer to us, but I chose Anniston, as I have in the past, for nostalgia. Anniston Scrap used to be owned by my great uncle, my paternal grandmother’s brother, Charlie Carnes.
I had 580 pounds, which netted us a cool $27.55, for which I got a check. The scrap metal business used to be a pretty informal thing, but these days you have to show identification and sign a statement that you actually own the scrap you’re bringing in.
Anniston Scrap has been right where it is now for probably a century. Here is a Google Earth view of downtown Rome.
My father worked there off and on as a kid. When you come with a load of scrap metal, you drive up onto the same set of scales that were there when I went there with my father, more than 50 years ago. The office is the same. I think the dirt on the floors and walls is the same.
The office is the building at upper left with the shiny roof. Some of the buildings adjacent to the scrapyard are not faring very well.
To dump the scrap, you drive right into the yard and toss everything onto a big pile of metal things surrounded by a retaining wall of old appliances. I added some paint cans, a box of rusty nails, my broken stationary bicycle, my father’s old cast-iron table saw, and a large amount of unidentifiable things.
I have taken scrap metal there three times since my mother died. It had been a very long time since I had been into the office. I asked the woman behind the counter if she had heard of Charlie Carnes. She hadn’t. I told her he used to own the scrap yard a long time ago. She didn’t seem impressed.
There is a scene in the movie Nebraska that reminded me of my visit to the scrap yard. Bruce Dern plays an elderly man who thinks he has won a million dollars in a contest like the Publisher’s Clearing House lottery. On his way to pick up his jackpot his son and he stop in their old hometown, where they visit the garage the old man used to own. He asks the current owners if they recognized his or his partner’s names. They had never heard of them.
But that’s the way things go. Old times get tossed onto a pile of useless scrap and forgotten.