The transformation of trash to mini bar , featuring Motown, Italian immigrants, garbage picking, and good vibes.
What do you get when you blend an alcohol-loving Motown artist who likes their Razzle Dazzle, and the handed down cabinet of a long-gone lil Italian lady?
The working class Italians in Toronto
Somehow I never set out consciously intending to go trash-picking or dumpster diving, but I always seem to end up in luck. Could it be that the universe isn't ready for these objects to be discarded yet? Or could it be that I have a sharp eye for seeing something extraordinary that is ready for a new lease on life? This one sure is special.
Working on a location in Toronto's West End, home too many old-school Italian immigrants. (Those not familiar with the area should know there are many Italian families who were first welcomed here just like the rest of us).
In the early 1900s, Italians migrated to Toronto, and first settled in The Ward. But by the roaring twenties, most had moved west of Bathurst Street, resulting in College-Clinton becoming the prominent Little Italy in the city.
This same phenomenon occurred with my family arriving from Scotland: many Europeans moved to Canada for a better life and an opportunity to follow their dreams, bringing along their culture, traditions, taste - including their homemade wine - and overall lifestyle. In fact, it's easy to spot Italian households since you just have to go around and look into some backyards to find grapevines, tomatoes and plenty of empty bottles!
Years of a misspent youth with zero regret
If you were like me, who went to the Catholic school board, you certainly had several classmates that had Italian ancestry. There was usually one with far too much Drakar Noir, surely there was one with a Mustang, killer lunches, there was always one of them that had a system set up to grab bottles of that sweet summer grape wine, bottled in the basement!
The Italian lad in our year at St Thomas Aquinas was cranking out "Papa's" ,under his nose when he was out working construction.
We called it "rocket fuel", coming in at $5 a bottle and you were good for the night , if you could finish it. He was light years ahead of his time with his "Recycling Program". witch translated to bring your own 750 ml empty pop bottle to fill, as if I use Papas, " he will know and "Ill get the beats"
Cheers to Peter Albanese!
He see's He scores
(It had only been a few weeks ago); Before I took it, however, I asked the owners for its story as i always do I couldn't just take something away without knowing who was associated with it and why.
(The toaster is surely a toaster, but who put the bread in is the crucial factor)
This cabinet belonged to his Italian family's Mamma Mia, and had been in their kitchen as far back as anyone can remember. It held small trinkets,mail, newspapers, bread, needles and thread, and the typical items you'd find in somebody's kitchen (late 50s-early60s).
May I have your trash?
I had the honor of speaking to the man and expressed my sincere admiration for (in my eyes) his beautiful cabinet. When I asked if I could take it instead of watching it be sent to the landfill, he gave me a quizzical look. After I explained my vision—to keep the beloved family heirloom alive and continue its legacy—he gladly handed it over, almost as if he knew its spirit lived on.
I felt a little warm smile pass through the universe from an old Italian mother approving my decision. Now, this wonderful cabinet is part of not only my life but yours too!
It has to be a Motown tribute!
I noticed the mesmerizing details of a 1950s-1960s powder blue aqua mini bar. It was as if it had transported me to a radiant world with reflections of Motown music streaming through my head. The vibrant energy from the label color, as well as the remarkable musical movements that captivated millions of music lovers filled me with emotions of nostalgia and motivation.
"Motown is an iconic record label founded by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson that came to light in the 1960s. This historic music company has consistently empowered Black artists with creative freedom to craft timeless melodies that have revolutionized popular culture around the globe. To this day, these exceptional musical feats continue to be celebrated, inspiring us all to recognize our individual potential and strive for greatness. The sound of Motown always brings me back to my childhood, and dancing. It has an unmistakable sound that must either reach deep down into the core of a person’s being, somehow compelling them to move, our simply they don’t have a soul. (Donnelly. Anthony 2023))
But wait, there's more for the score!
It was probably because of a similar incident two weeks before: I had seen the daughter of Italian origin discarding an old blue globe light from that era, which after researching later on, had a market value of $595.00. but my intuition told me not to sell it , I had different plans for it - to bring more light, life and joy into another home, mine specifically. Maybe it was some sort of unconscious manifestation of juju. Sometimes these things just fall into place and take on a life of their own but the harmony of the colors and era matching were naturally formed.
Mowtown's final tour on the road to home
After receiving permission to take the piece, I loaded it onto a truck and transported to my West End apartment in Toronto. Though I wasn't worried about bugs or anything like that, given the amount of infestations that plague the city - cockroaches, bedbugs - the right thing to do was to thoroughly sanitize what I picked up before bringing it into the house.
So there I was in the parking lot behind my building, disinfecting the item from head to toe for the entire evening. Not that this family had any such insects nor am I implying their house was unclean - roaches and bedbugs don’t discriminate.
They can make themselves at home even in the cleanest places.I realized due to its color and style what I wanted to do with it - dedicate it to Motown, which symbolizes good times. Hence why it became a mini bar.
What else could it possibly become other than that?
Hit the thrift, if you catch my drift
I went into a frenzy of searching. Each time I passed a thrift shop, I went inside and check for pieces from that era. To my surprise, like magic, each time I laid my eyes on something, it was the perfect match for the theme.
It was like the past was coming back to life in front of me. Even more incredible was how the quest led me to this ancient mechanical timepiece with a knob, showing cocktail ingredients! It's an amazing example of one of the first computers ish booze google - something all alcoholics would appreciate! I couldn't believe my luck.
Get it together man
For the next two weeks, I carved out a few hours long window of time in the evening or early in the morning to make progress on putting together the project and changing its design.
My thrift shopping hunting for pieces led me to the craft section in the dollar store. I It was all about the blue velvet for the shelving, trimming, silver studs, and other decorations that added extra pizzazz to the bar. However, buyer beware!
The silver strips of disco tiles.are like glitter - the herpes of the craft world. Once you get them, they're stuck with you forever - I'm still finding some on my floor even now.
Even as it was annoying dealing with these things, adding them to the blue velvet shelves and interior along with installing lighting, made the inner wals look great in the end
It was a gradual process of repainting, scrubbing,covering, pinning and cleaning,
but eventually I found all the places for ther right pieces and arranged them into the finished product I present to you today.
If you have made it this far, I would be thrilled to show you the finished product.
Below this, you will find a time-lapse recorded video of the transformation of an old dumpster into a new showpiece.
So, if you come across something that captures your eye when you are looking at some trash, take a closer look. The item could have meaningful history that you can bring to life by repurposing it.
I'd like to express my gratitude to the two Italian ladies who are no longer with us for the pieces of their lives they shared with us.
Thank you Motown , the label has an enormous effect on our culture and lifestyles, including dancefloors, lovers, friends, and other good times.
As for alcohol, it's been quite a ride at times—sometimes I wish we never met but it's undeniable how influential booze has been in creating memorable moments.
Lastly, thanks for reading this article!
May you enjoy bringing new life
check out the finish line below here