When I walk the dogs, a multiple times daily event, we frequently walk down the alleys that run in back of the houses in this neighborhood. You can learn a lot by walking down alleys. The people who throw all of their yard waste into the alley, creating a habitat. That’s a violation of city ordinance. The people who throw all of their dog waste over the fence into the alley, a tasty snack for vermin. That’s a violation of city ordinance, too.
Then there are the houses that are immaculate from the front but whose alley fences haven’t been repaired or replaced in thirty years until they resemble something you might see in a Third World slum. Slats missing, rotting, leaning precariously.
People throw away some pretty interesting things. Practically a history of technology. CRT-type monitors are a pretty commonplace find these days. On occasion I’ve found boxes of perfectly good, nearly pristine books. Not text books, either. This morning I found a small stack of dishes, Homer Laughlin. Judging from the style they were probably better restaurant or hotel dinnerware of the 1950s.
One day behind the house of a man, woman, and child I found a stack of burned men’s clothing. I don’t recall seeing the man after that. His car certainly wasn’t parked in the alley car park any more.
You can learn a lot by walking down alleys.