Spring clean-up in Mt. Pleasant
What’s more exciting for kids than a day off from school in the middle of winter when the snow drifts are piled high, and there are plans for snowball fights, forts and building tunnels? It’s a two-hour school delay for fog when it’s spring clean-up in Mt. Pleasant.
The neighborhood kids were all up and ready for school, then boom — they didn’t have to go for two more hours. They were already outside getting ready to walk to school. Whammo, they looked around and it’s like Christmas in July — there was junk everywhere! What more could kids ask for? The junk man cometh.
The kids went berserk, running from pile to pile in the fog, hauling old picture frames home, an elliptical exercise machine that didn’t work (it took three kids to drag it), and an old Big Wheel. One family of kids from the Moeller clan had their dog, Chloe, a Cairn terrier, pulling them on the Big Wheel. Chloe’s tongue was near dragging on the ground.
Scavengers in pick-up trucks pulling trailers also were out and about, and it was a race between kids and scavengers to the piles. “Hey, look! Seashells!” “I saw ‘em first!” “Nuh-uh!”
Jeff Moeller, the father of one of the clans, roared out of his house, stocking footed on wet grass, to holler at the kids to quit hauling stuff home. Of course, he had a pick-up full of old landscape timbers he had scavenged himself. Like papa, like kids.
The big catastrophe happened when the garbage truck came roaring down the street and the kids ran screaming from it like it was a monster. The trouble was that all of the stuff the kids had drug home consequently didn’t get picked up. Uh-oh. The kids were in big trouble now, and they knew it. Their faces fell. They looked back at father, Jeff. He was beside himself, hands on hips, shaking his head. There was nothing he could do but throw the crap into his truck (on top of the landscape timbers) and haul it off to another part of town that hadn’t gotten picked up yet. Fun to watch, but frustrating for Jeff. I’m just tickled to see kids out of the house these days doing outdoor things instead of indoors two-thumbing electronic gizmos.
It even got Holly Dog and I going. We were out for Holly’s morning constitutional and got caught up in it all. Chloe and Holly are great friends. Chloe is still a pup, while Holly is going on 14. “This is the way we pull kids on a Big Wheel,” Chloe seemed to be showing Holly. Holly Dog just ignored her. “Oh, how boring.”
The kids began pulling on old clothes from boxes along the curb. I wanted to join them in their game of Wizard of Oz. Chloe was Toto. Fun!
The kids call me Mr. Swarm. I feel like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. (If you remember that television show, you are dated.) I ran to the house and got a bag of M&Ms for the kids, which really rocketed them into hyper space. Michelle Obama would never approve.
Relief and sorrow struck almost simultaneously at 10 a.m when the kids had to disperse for school. A hush fell over the neighborhood, the quietness screaming. It was like the aftermath of a tornado. Crap was strewn everywhere — wet cardboard flapping in the breeze, waving goodbye to the kids. “Come back, come back another day, so we can play.”
Every year the town debates whether to continue with spring clean-up and whether to allow scavenging. I say yes, what the heck? It’s one of those defining moments of a small town. It gets old codgers like me out and feeling young again.
Have a good story? Call Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at (319) 217-0526, email him at email@example.com or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.