Bob wages war against careless litterbugs By Bob Karolevitz Now that the snow is gone, the trash shows up like warts on a toad.
It's hard to believe how many cans, bottles, plastic containers and paper can accumulate in five months. Obviously they were thrown out of car windows to be covered by the next winter storm.
Our country lane did not escape its share of junk-dumping, and Phyllis didn't like what she saw when the melting occurred.
"You've got to clean out those messy ditches," she said, volunteering me. "They're unsightly, and besides that you can recycle all those aluminum cans."
I do what I'm told, of course, so off I went on my environmental beautification mission. In the half mile between our mail box and the hardtop road running by our place, I collected enough discarded stuff to fill our pickup truck one-third full.
I found beer bottles, wine bottles, hard lemonade bottles, empty cigarette packs, a snuff can, one old tire and enough beer cans to convince me that Budweiser and Old Milwaukee have nothing to worry about.
It was sort of embarrassing, though. Neighbors and total strangers drove by, wondering what that old duffer with the white plastic bucket was doing in the ditch.
One even stopped to see if I needed some sort of assistance. He didn't join me in my tidying task, but it was nice of him to inquire about my health and mental stability.
Grandson Sam and his mother cleaned out the ditch in front of their place, too. I think he got points as a Cub Scout, but more than that, it taught him a good lesson about the evils of littering.
As for me, my ditch-walking brought back memories of those early days in the Army during World War II. That's when we learned what "policing up" really meant. Back when we were buck privates, our sergeant lined us up every day in the battalion compound for the demeaning ritual which kept our area spotless.
When he ordered us to move out, he would shout: "All I want to see are elbows and bottoms!" (Actually he used a more earthy term for that latter part of our anatomy, but since this is a family newspaper, his real expression must be censored.) We picked up everything, though, even little twigs and anything which might stir his wrath if we left it.
Young men who smoked � and almost everyone did � also learned how to field strip their cigarettes. There were no filters then, so it was possible to rip open the butts, throw the remaining tobacco to the wind and wad up the cigarette paper into the tiniest ball so even the sergeant couldn't see it.
During our training, he also told us that we should leave a bivouac area cleaner when we left it than it was when we first got there.
I suppose that ingrained instruction came back to me when Phyllis sent me out to that dirty roadside ditch. I didn't do the "elbows and whatchamacallit thing," but I picked up all the trash just as though that mean old sergeant was following me.
My wife was right. I got a lot of aluminum cans to recycle. Little did the litterers know that their throwaways would add to our college scholarship which is growing year by year, thanks to those aluminum cans.
At least some good can come from an obvious bad habit!
© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz