Digger Odell Publications

One of the more amusing aspects of bottle digging is the reactions of people when they see us digging. We get a familiar litany of familiar questions. Sometimes people mistake us for workers. Now don't get me wrong we are working and working harder than most work crews and doing it all by hand. In fact, you couldn't pay me to do the work we do when we are digging. All too often we spend hours moving tons of dirt out of a hole and then more hours moving it back in.

The bottles, if any are almost always on the bottom. It take hours to get to bottom which gives us time to come up with creative ways to dig out old privies. One of our favorite day dreams is to start from the bottom of the hole, where the bottles. Other times we dream of a giant fire hose like contraption which we use to blast the dirt out of the hole, leaving the bottles while removing the dirt in a slurry. Actually this idea we think is practical, except for trying to get the dirt back into the hole.

Passer-bys often stop and ask what we are doing. They are shocked when the fellow out of sight in the hole answers. One peek down the hole, which might be anywhere from four to ten feet deep prompts the question, ‘How did you did dig that out?” When we explain that we did do all the work by hand, immediately a suspicious look crosses their face, because they believe no one would do all that work for nothing. We must be finding something valuable or be paid to fix a sewer line instead of just digging for bottles. Which explains the on-lookers next question, ‘Did you find any gold?” as if they still cannot wrap their mind around the fact that we are just digging for bottles. It takes a while to make clear that more likely than not we are going to go home with a sore back and little else.

Last weekend, we dug in the backyard of an affluent 1860s dwelling. The owners had granted us permission to dig. Probing indicated the privy was in the back corner of the lot and under a rather large burning bush which we were to move as part of the deal for digging. I wish I had a camera, to record the look on the owners face, when this turn of the century outhouse started yielding bottles by the dozen. They just kept coming and coming until we had piled up over 100 of them. Most were common and to us relatively uninteresting, but to the owner it was as though the fable of buried treasure was played out right before their eyes. I knew that look in the owner’s eyes.

Digging is addicting. I maintain it has all the qualities of any substance which might be habit-forming. I suspect that my physiological response to digging would be of interest to psychologists. There is an adrenaline rush, there must be to keep us moving the quantities of dirt we move in a day of digging. Like most things in life, it is the process that is enjoyable. The bottles are secondary. I guess that is What I am digging for.