First Person Singular

(Walter P. Calahan - )
Sunday, July 22, 2007

When I moved here, I brought my boat. I noticed some days it would be kind of trashy, so I just started picking up trash. Picking up trash is just another excuse to be out on the water. You're hanging out on your boat in the sun, and it's nice. I could think of worse things to do.

A lot of people who are down on the river a lot, they know who I am. They're like, "Hey that's the trash man." And people come up to you, and they are like: "That's so great that you're picking up trash. How can I get involved?" And I'm like, "You see some trash, pick it up."

That's what I used to do in Texas. I would motor up the river, and people would do things like take a case of beer and take all the beer cans and stick them on the trees. Not only would they litter, they'd think it's kind of cute. It really dawned on me when I was motoring up this river, and you turn this bend, and there is a chemical factory, all 121 acres, and there were these eight-inch pipes, just street drains going into the river, and there's this guy sitting there fishing, right at the pipes. And I'm thinking, These people have no concept. That's what really kicked me into gear to doing this.

I go out almost every day. No schedule. You basically have a big pole with a little net on it. You're driving by, making sure you're going slowly, and there's just a little bottle up there. It's almost like fishing. People go out there and fish and don't catch anything. They're like: "Yeah, it's great. I'm still out here on the water. I'm fishing." It's kind of the same thing. I'm not solving every problem in the world, but I feel like I'm making a difference.

Interview by Robin Rose Parker

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