- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - As a junk hauler, Erik Hughes has picked up plenty of items that register high on the “bizarre” meter.

He wasn’t prepared, though, for what he found about 18 months ago when he showed up to clean out the house of a Worthington resident who had recently died.

“He kept mice, and, every time one died, he put them in a cardboard box,” recalled Hughes, the 39-year-old co-owner of a Junk King franchise in Dublin. “This went on for 10 or 15 years. There were tens of thousands of boxes stacked up along the walls.

“We took 10 trucks of mice boxes out. He loved those mice. He might have been as crazy as the day is long, but he took care of those mice and honored each one.”

Many other central Ohio haulers - with 373 licensed in Franklin County, according to the county health department - have believe-it-or-not tales to tell, too.

The business, after all, tends to draw them into others’ worlds at transitory times.

“You’re dealing with all different types, and you never know what you will find day to day,” said Alex Foster, 46, owner of At Your Disposal Hauling on the East Side.

Amid the flotsam and jetsam of customers’ lives, stories inevitably surface.

Here’s a sampling:

Arming the family

Some of what Hughes has run across defies description.

“I’ll get weird-shaped devices that I can’t identify - like the things you see on Cracker Barrel walls,” he said. “I have found everything from cannonballs to musket rounds.”

Ammunition, he said, seems to be popular in Ohio.

“I think I have yet to sweep a basement after a job and not find .22(-caliber) ammunition.”

Lamenting a loss

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