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Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2012

40 years ago: New trash policy mostly successful, city workers say

April 3, 2012

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for April 3, 1972:

On the first day of the new citywide trash pick-up policy, most Lawrence residents had remembered to put their garbage containers at the curb. According to sanitation department head Don Purdy, the new system, designed to save the city $60,000 a year, was also saving time; however, a valid evaluation would not be attempted for at least a month. City ordinances did not require that residents remove their empty trash cans from the curb by a specific time, but a pamphlet on the new policy said that city administration was "confident that the people of Lawrence have sufficient pride in their homes and the appearance of their neighborhoods that they will take their containers in from the curb promptly after the collector has passed." In case homeowners had forgotten to do so, high winds this week were helping to remind them by blowing the empty cans around in the streets. Lawrence trash collection occurred twice weekly in 1972, with a bulk item pick-up once every five weeks.

Comments

Pywacket 2 years ago

I grew up in another state but I'm old enough to remember the metal trash cans being kept by the back porch--and the trash collectors going up the driveway, carrying the cans back to the truck, then bringing the empty cans back around to the rear of the house and setting them neatly in their place--and even replacing the lids.

Everybody knew the "garbageman" by name (ours was Harvey) and the housewives or kids who were outside would chat and exchange pleasantries with him as he went his rounds. If it was hot, they would offer him a drink of water from the kitchen. People didn't carry plastic bottles everywhere in those days.

Harvey came by three times a week when I was little. I remember the ladies' dismay a few years later when the service was reduced to twice weekly and they wondered how to cope with the trash and the flies during those longer intervals. I don't know what year it changed from backyard to curb service in my home town and "service with a smile" was exchanged for "nameless efficiency." I don't think things are the better for it. Who knows the names of their trash collectors nowadays? And how many of them make sure the containers are returned upright, much less set neatly by the back steps?!

Back then, kitchen trash was thrown into brown paper grocery sacks, not plastic bags. We had metal, oval-shaped trash cans in other rooms and those were emptied into the paper bags, which were then taken outside. I imagine the paper bags made it a lot easier for everything to biodegrade in the landfills of the 1950s and '60s. (And earlier, no doubt.) Now we seal everything into the ubiquitous plastic bags, where it will remain forever, the piles growing skyward.

In those days, milk and butter were still delivered to little silvery-colored boxes on the back porch. The boxes were imprinted with the name of the dairy, as were the glass bottles in which the milk was delivered. In the summer, we would beg chunks of ice from the milkman from his truck. Free ice chunks were almost as good on a hot summer day as a popsicle from the ice-cream truck. We even had an egg man--a little old farmer who brought eggs every week, right to our front door. I miss those amenities and personal interactions and feel a little sad that my kids grew up in much more impersonal and rushed times.

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Sarah St. John 2 years ago

Ahhhh, the distinctive sound of metal garbage cans hitting the pavement! They were more difficult for the winds to blow around, but what a cacophony of sound when they succeeded! I don't think I've seen a metal trashcan on my block for a long time.....

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