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Residents Fight Dumping in Strike : Garbage Warfare Waged in Streets of Philadelphia

July 15, 1986|BOB DROGIN | Times Staff Writer

"It's like a new city skyline," said Bob Kennedy, 25, peering at nearby City Hall and other downtown skyscrapers as he tossed several bags on the towering trash at 9th and Callowhill. "It's horrible," added his wife, Monica, holding her nose.

"I've been trying to keep mine in the freezer, but I didn't think it would go this long," James Boone, 38, a bus driver, said as he threw four bags onto the city site at 33rd and Oxford streets.

Besides affecting the quality of life, the strike could affect Goode's chances for reelection next year. The mayor is still struggling to rehabilitate his image after the MOVE tragedy last year in which 11 people were killed and 61 homes destroyed in a police confrontation with anarchists.

"Our city's a joke," said Ed Buck, a 26-year-old engineer dumping at a collection site by an office complex on Rhawn Street in the northeast area of the city. "First, they drop a bomb on row houses. Now this."

Some residents have taken to toting their trash to relatives in the suburbs or to summer homes on the Jersey shore. And not every street is filthy.

Residents Sweep Sidewalks

Down by Pat's King of Steaks, a landmark cheese-steak emporium in South Philadelphia, a closely knit community of narrow two-story row houses and Old World customs, gray-haired Bea Paolini, 62, carefully swept her sidewalk with a red broom and scrubbed her gray slate stoop, as she has every day for years.

"We have a lady in the next block who comes down every morning and picks up loose papers," she said. "That helps too."

And there may be some benefits. After years of discussion, the city plans to start a recycling program. And some enterprising entrepreneurs have cashed in on the city's garbage woes.

Carlos Taylor, 12, and his friend, Amin Montgy, 9, have earned about $40 apiece over the weekend. Dwarfed by their giant pushcarts, they roam the streets of North Philadelphia, charging neighbors 50 cents a bag to haul the trash to a nearby collection site.

Earning Money for Clothes

"I need clothes and sneakers," said Carlos, who wore a torn shirt and pants. "My mom says we'll buy food," added tiny Amin.

And, at the collection site near City Hall, Vance Simpson, 33, and his friend, Abdul Malik, 38, unloaded their fourth $50 load of the day from a battered blue van. At $1 a bag, the pair had plenty of work.

"This strike can go on forever and ever and ever," Simpson said with a grin.

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