My informant was my 94 year old grandfather. He is a very wise man that has gone through a lot in his life from having polio to creating a multi million dollar company. However, he did not tell me about his life. He discussed one of the motto’s that his father, my great grandfather, held very dear to him which is “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”.
Collector: “Do you know of any proverbs that hold any significance to you?”
Informant: “Yes, my father would always say ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’.
Collector: “Why was this important to him?
Informant: “Throughout his life, particularly in his old age, he would always collect trash from the junk yard or from other places that had what looked like useless junk. But, he somehow found a way to sell these things to people and people liked it. He was a man that hated waste and to see all that stuff being thrown away just killed him. So he made use out of it and collected it and sold it to people that might need it. He made pretty good money doing it too.”
This was awesome to find out because I got to learn more about my great grandfather, his personality and the things he did. I never had the opportunity to meet him so this was very beneficial for me. After doing some research on the origins of this proverb, I found that it originated during the late 17th century. It was first seen in a bound publication of The Athenian Mercury, as “one man’s pleasure is, another’s pain”. This proverb, clearly having the same meaning, was noted again just a few years later, except this time it was “one’s man’s meat is another man’s poison”. Both proverbs communicate the same message as the modern use.