Letter: Plastic-straw debate reminds of past litter experiences

Published 11:43 am Wednesday, August 29, 2018


Reading your reader comments about plastic straws and litter brought to memory some “litter gems” from my past.

Back in the early ’60s I was attending a technical trade school near Philadelphia. One of the instructors obtained tickets for a Limeliter’s concert in the city. They were a popular folk group at the time.

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After the concert, five 19-year-old guys were in our car and decided to stop for hoagies and Philly cheesesteaks at “originals” in Chester, on the way back to school. After eating in the car, three of the occupants opened their car doors and threw their trash on the street under the car.

As the driver left the scene, red lights appeared on a police car from behind us and pulled the car over. We followed the officer to the magistrate’s office and the three litter bugs were charged.

It gets better.

None of the three had bail money and were facing a night in jail unless their parents could come to the magistrate’s office with cash or the deed to their house. By now, it is almost midnight. Two of the fathers came with the deeds or cash but the third father said, “You got yourself into this mess, get yourself out of it.” I guess that was an early form of “tough love.” One of the other fathers put up bail for the third student.

At their hearing, they were given fines and picked up trash on the streets of Chester for several Saturdays.

The moral of this story is not to follow the crowd. In your heart, you know the right thing to do.

My second encounter with litter happened on my way home from work near Smithfield, Virginia in the 70’s or 80’s.

I was following a car full of teenagers as they rolled down their windows and threw out a boat load of trash from their recent visit to a fast food restaurant. It scattered everywhere and was not a pretty sight. A few minutes later I pulled up next to them at a light and rolled down my window.

I looked at the teenagers and said “Do you know that it is against the law in Virginia to throw litter on the highway? “You better go pick it up!” They did not answer me but at that moment I had a silent wish that the policeman from Chester, Pennsylvania would appear.

If you have ever eaten a “good” Philly cheesesteak the memory of those encounters will last for over 50 years. Last week I took my grandson to Jersey Mikes in Kitty Hawk to give their cheesesteak a try. I told the manager it was my first visit and would let him know if I would be back. After eating, I informed the manager that on a scale of one to 10 his steak was an eight. He told me that next time it would be a 10.

By the way, I believe that all of the original Limeliters have gone to their final folk-singing reward in the sky.

George J. Pitonyak, Kitty Hawk