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On this Day in... 1986

All we have to say is: Bring back the Marquis of Debris.

Wednesday, Jun 11, 1986


When the trash piles up
In your neighborhood,
Who ya gonna call?
Trash Busters!
When it don't look right
And it don't smell good,
Who ya gonna call?
Trash Busters!
"I ain't afraid of no rats! "

Eileen Moderski said she has been trying for months to get a city sanitation crew to clean the mounds of trash from the alley behind her two- story rowhouse on tiny Reese Street near Tree in South Philadelphia. Finally, the Moderskis decided to take the matter into their own hands.

"My husband cleaned the alley because I have a gas grill, but we couldn't even cook out because (the alley) was so ugly," she told the Marquis.

She secured eight brown city trash bags from the Department of Streets Sanitation Division, Moderski said, and her husband, Michael, filled them early last week and kept them in the back yard until last Friday - trash day.

Moderski called the Sanitation Division again early Friday and - having been assured that the trash would be collected - had Michael drag out the eight city trash bags and two green plastic bags containing "personal trash. "

Imagine then the Moderskis' surprise when they returned home to discover that the city trash men really did come. And imagine their shock when they realized that all the trash on the block had been taken - except the eight city bags, which continue to stand outside her house like new-wave gargoyles.

"There's dead mice in there and dead birds and all kinds of stuff," Moderski complained yesterday. "I'm going to end up with maggots all in front of the house . . . "

"My complaint is, if we take the time to clean the alley out, they should at least pick it up when they come around. "

Who ya gonna call? Trash Busters!

The Marquis learned of the problems on Reese Street via his newfangled Trash Busters Hot Line (854-2900) - a mildly amusing device that magically records the trash complaints of Daily News readers. In all, your humble servant had received 30 complaints on his new anti-grime gadgetry as of yesternoon.

Gadzooks! What's next, a video?

No! What's next, according to Streets Commissioner Harry J. Perks, is action from the city.

"Most people who want to clean up their neighborhood do it through the (Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee) program," Perks explained. "PMBC does those kinds of things routinely and we pick up right away, usually that same day. "

Since she decided to clean up the alley on her own, Perks said, Moderski's trash pickup apparently fell through the cracks - so to speak.

But, Mr. Perks, the trashmen did collect trash on Reese Street last Friday. Maybe they just "overlooked" the eight city trash bags? Or is there some ordinance prohibiting city sanitation workers from collecting city trash when it is bagged and placed at curbside by a private taxpayer who is unaffiliated with an officially sanctioned clean-city program?

"I have no explanation for that," Perks said. "But if I had that address I'd certainly get somebody over there to pick it up. "

The Marquis was only too happy to oblige.

"I hope to get it picked up in the next eight hours," Perks said shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday.

Oh, Mr. Perks, one more thing. There's a vacant lot at the corner of Reese and Tree that the neighbors have been trying to get the city to clean out for quite some time.

One of the neighbors' sons cleared the lot three weeks ago and placed the debris in two piles that have been sitting there ever since.

"(The lot) is basically a request that nobody here seems to know about," Perks said. "But, we'll get that (today). "

"I've been calling Mayor Goode's office for the last two years (about the trash-strewn lot) and they say they're working on it," said Mary Ruzic, who also lives on Reese Street.

"I've called L&I and they say they're working on it. I've called the Sanitation Department and they're working on it too. I think they're mad at me. "

Oftentimes, the Marquis gets those same vibes. And who knows? Somewhere out there, they might really be working on it.

Other calls on the Trash Busters Hot Line yesterday included:

* A caller who said numerous dumpsters are constantly overflowing along Frankford Avenue in Juniata Park.

* A West Philadelphia resident who claims a pile of trash at 52nd and Arch streets has been sitting on the curb since trash day last Thursday.

* A Mount Airy woman upset because she heeded news reports last Friday urging residents with Friday trash pickups not to put their trash out until Saturday.

"Doing my best to be a good citizen, that's exactly what I did, only to come home from having to make errands to find that the trashmen had been through the street and taken the trash - and my trash and others, naturally wasn't out because we were busy obeying what we were told to do," she said.

"It is ridiculous. It's in East Mount Airy with a Friday pickup and I'm sure you'll hear from other people. "

Who you gonna call? Trash Busters!