We love it when one story bumps into another, and when someone sends us an idea that makes us smile whenever we imagine it.
That’s what has happened with our first Tacoma Quirk Contest and our Workplace Garden Challenge.
If you will recall, we ran a photo of Tacoma Weekly writer Steve Dunkelberger hugging a large item made of red plastic. There was a flower on top of it.
We knew this was a toughie. Only people with personal knowledge of it, or fond remembrances of state liquor stores, would have a clue.
But Patsy Sweeney had a theory, and an answer for each of the questions we asked about the object.
“I'm going to guess that this thing is the basket from a cherry-picker truck (designed for a small person),” Sweeney wrote.
“Where was it first seen in Tacoma? I suppose it was first seen when something needed to be removed from a high place. Perhaps when they were trying to rescue the dog "Tubby" from the car stuck on the collapsed Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940?
“How did you get it? Did one of your enterprising but underpaid staff members find it while reconnoitering at the dump?
“What are we using it for now? Steve D. seems to be holding a little tree that he intends to plant in this vessel. I think this is a red herring, because the tub probably has no hole in the bottom for drainage – needed in Tacoma with all the rain we get. Without a drainage hole, it would be hard to tip it to release excess moisture. Perhaps this would be less of problem if you position it under an awning (if you have one). You might better use it as a wishing well where people like Debbie Friedman could deposit small flat stones inscribed with their dreams.
“Does it, heaven forfend, have siblings? As for sibs – there are/were a lot of cherry pickers in this area, so I would say, cautiously, yes, but transporting them would be difficult.”
Given the challenge, one correct answer out of five is worth two tickets to the Rainiers. The image of Dunkelberger trying to rescue Tubby from Galloping Gertie is worth two more. Sweeney gets to pick her game.
One of our enterprising staff members did, in fact, find it while reconnoitering at a neighborhood clean-up, which is the next best thing to a dump.
It was in the back of Jenice Glassman’s pick up truck. She used it as planter-yard art for years after rescuing it from the waste stream at a state liquor store. It, and a lower matching piece (the sibling) were displays for Maker’s Mark whiskey. They mimic the red wax seal on the bottle cap.
She was happy to rescue it, one more time, from that waste stream, and give it to an enterprising reporter/gardener.
We are using it as a planter, and as an ashtray. The Weekly’s smokers drop their cigarette butts down a hole under the flower pot. It beats the old jar they had.
The sibling will soon be planter in our workplace garden.
We’ve delayed the actual implantation because someone has been dropping by on the weekends and evenings and taking home the other cool stuff we got at that neighborhood cleanup – a garden cart, a drawer full of flowers, an ammo box, a tool box/stepping stool. Given that history, we believe they will make off with an attractive bright red planter filled with nasturtiums. To prevent that, we are working on an anti-theft system: We have been training our garden snakes to nap in it.
This is the happy spot where this story bumps into our Workplace Garden Challenge: Glassman is the daughter of the late and greatest Charlotte Valbert, the community heroine who rescued Blueberry Park from oblivion and led the effort to turn it into a unique free public U-pick (and U-maintain) treasure.
Charlotte’s grandsons, Travis and Gabe Valbert, own Gardensphere with its workplace garden and chicks in the Proctor District.
The photo of the big red planter thing struck terror into Gabe’s tasteful heart, though he thinks Travis might secretly covet it.
You can read their story on the opposite page.