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The Beat #32: Found Objects

Guest Contributor, photographer Karl Heine

What’s Left Behind Tells a Story

This week, our friend the photographer Karl Heine takes a look at found objects. These curiosities, discovered on his ramblings along the coasts of Rhode Island and Connecticut, are stark yet beautiful reminders that what seems vital in one moment can very quickly become history. This is the first of a two-part series.

Side Mirror

How did this get here? Where’s the rest of the car? Do crabs use it to check their makeup? While whimsical and mysterious, this object also reminds us that our seas and beaches bear the indelible mark of human wastefulness and neglect. The act of saving our oceans begins at home, which is appropriate, because by saving our oceans, we’re ultimately saving ourselves.

Listerine Bottle

Found: Block Island, RI, ca. 1920s

Created by Joseph Lawrence and named after Joseph Lister, Listerine was formulated to be a surgical antiseptic. Later, it was distilled and marketed as everything from floor cleaner to a gonorrhea cure (keep that in mind next time you’re gargling it). It was originally sold by Lambert Pharmacal Company of St. Louis, MO, and appeared in these glass bottles and sealed with a cork. It wasn’t until the 1920s that it was sold for the purpose of curing bad breath, as well as for preventing cold sores. An interesting sidebar, for a brief time, the company also sold mentholated Listerine Cigarettes.

Toy Car

Admit it, at first glance you thought this was a real VW Beetle. We did. How this bite-sized bug found its way here we’ll never know, but it does conjure images of childhood trips to the shore. Whether you had Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Micro Machines, or the generic diecast cars found in drug stores and dollar stores, you can relate to the the pure joy that could be found in a simple toy.

Enigma Pocket Watch Dial

Found: Block Island, RI

ca. 1930s

It’s easy to imagine this Swiss-made Brevets Enigma watch in the waistcoat pocket of a 1930s sailor or perhaps being pulled out and checked by a man at the beach for a secret tryst — he will later lose track of the watch somewhere in the sand. Wherever it came from, this watch face simultaneously evokes early 20th century glamor while reminding us how time leaves its mark on everything.


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