It was a rainy, eight-elephant day with furniture on Oct. 27 at the Puyallup Tribe’s last community clean-up of the year. “We had excellent volunteers,” organizer David Whited said of the crew of eight, including Merrilee Satiacum-Combs and her family. Excellent, and lucky. “One of our volunteers has a nephew who just got a new house, but didn’t have furniture,” Whited said. The family was figuring out how to help when a woman pulled up in a rented U-Haul. She was moving, and there was no room for the six or eight chairs, two dressers and beds she had packed into the rented van. “It was all in good shape,” Whited said. “Half an hour after it got there, it was off to a new home. The pickup truck was too small, and they loaded it quick, so it looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.”
That, he said was the best thing of the day. The worst was a cooler. Something dead had spent far, far too long in it. The stench rose out of the container, one of five in the parking lot behind the tribal administration building at 3009 Portland Ave. It chased away the workers, some of whom stuffed tissues in their noses. It ambushed the people who dropped off stuff abandoned near a sweat lodge on Browning Street. It encouraged the hasty off-loading of 77 tires and the chunks of concrete that brought the day’s haul to 24.32 tons, including metal sent to recycling. That is worth eight three-ton Outta Here Elephants in the parade of junk gone from Tacoma’s alleys, yards and gulches.