The historic garbage on trash pick up

By Joan Baxter

The City of Xenia is changing the manner of garbage pickup for all residents. No longer will plastic bags be placed at the curb and no more open containers for recycling. All will be in closed, provided containers which will make it much easier no doubt for those who do the collecting.

There was a time, however when each resident was responsible for getting rid of their own household trash and garbage.

Before 1951, a small bonfire could be built in the yard to burn the garbage and trash. There were some residents who preferred to load up the trash then transport it to the dump located on Towler Road. This was a land fill area where all items no longer desired could be dumped and then at a later were buried.

Many folks took advantage of that dump, but in time, as would be expected, it became a health hazard with rodents of various kinds providing the potential of spreading disease.

A new service was begun in August 1951 which would facilitate the gathering and removal of trash as well as garbage.

The city purchased three new trucks. A rotating schedule was designed so that garbage would be picked up one day a week while paper, cardboard and so forth would be picked up every two weeks, on a rotating schedule. The city manager was hopeful that residents would enjoy not having to make trips to the landfill and would appreciate having the garbage picked up on a regular basis.

The newspaper printed advice to the residents for the best ways to enjoy this new service.

Each homeowner was to purchase his own metal trash can. It was suggested that the street address numbers be painted on the side of the can so that it would be easily identified and returned to the rightful owner. Housewives were instructed to carefully wrap the garbage in paper before putting it into the can, since this would prevent the can from rusting out too quickly, and in the winter months, it was suggested that the garbage, if loosely thrown in, might freeze to the can, causing even more problems for both the homeowner and the people doing the pickup.

Since this was something very new to the citizens, the first three weeks of the program were offered at no charge. This was an incentive to the residents to comply with the new procedures, and learn more about how the program would work once completely implemented. Therefore the program began in August, but no bill would be issued for the service until after Sept. 1.

Residents were asked to break the bottles before putting them in the cans and to crush the cans in order to conserve space. Only one trash can was allowed per household.

The city manager asked for citizen cooperation in this new venture. He suggested that residents place the cans where they would be accessible to the collectors. For those who were able to do so, it was requested that the garbage can be placed in plain sight in the alley or beside the house to more easily be retrieved.

The first week, people forgot or simply did not put the cans where they could easily be seen and retrieved. This meant that the collectors had to search for the cans. This caused the city to pay considerable overtime to the workers that first week. The city manager told the residents that this would not be acceptable. Furthermore he stated that the workers did not have time to search through each yard for a can, it was the responsibility of the homeowner to have the can in the visible place.

The new system would eliminate many of the problems at the Towler Road site. The site would continue to be used, but a trench was dug which could be covered as soon as all the trucks had completed their pickup schedule. This new system allowed the trench to be covered in a timely fashion.

Remembering that Xenia was much smaller in 1951, only three trucks were necessary. There were two packer trucks, one to be used downtown for commercial establishments and nearby homes, the other for “outlying” areas. The third truck was a stake-body truck which was used only to pick up burnable materials.

The Towler Road site remained open for a short time for residential use, but after the new pickup program had been in place for a couple of months, public dumping was no longer allowed. Only the city-owned dump trucks were able to drive in, and the dump was closed to the public. The dump had become a health hazard for the residents, and closing it to the public made it much safer.

Items which had previously been burned were collected on the same day as regular trash collections, but only once every two weeks. Residents were permitted to burn their own trash between the hours of 6 a. m. and 9 a.m. if desired. However, “any offensive odors or smoke originating with the fires can bring a clampdown.” Under no circumstances could garbage be burned.

Today a regular schedule is enjoyed throughout the city. Garbage and trash are collected in covered containers and larger items may still be left at the curb with prior notice.

The city still has a no burn policy in place.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and long-time historical columnist.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County resident and long-time historical columnist.