Ann Rose believes in getting her hands dirty. The 61-year-old retired Shaler Elementary School librarian started picking up trash near her Squirrel Hill home late last year. But soon enough she was joined by Bicky Goldszer, Ceci Sommers and Barbara Grover from the neighborhood. Together the women founded a litter patrol called Citizens For a Litter-Free Squirrel Hill. In early April, they kicked off their campaign to much fanfare. Neighborhood residents were invited to sign up for the beat and earn a broom.
How did you get started?
I was inspired by Boris [Weinstein, who launched a group in March 2005 to pick up trash in Shadyside]. I always did our street when I walked our dog. But there are not a lot of examples on our street, so I started going around.
What is your role in the group?
I'm just a mouse in the corner; I can't organize. I said to Bicky, "I just want to pick up trash."
Why do you do what you do?
I guess there is a little bit of compulsive neatness in me. I like to be in a pretty, tidy and well-functioning neighborhood. I'm offended by trash, broken bottles. I feel that the small things need to be done by us. It's also good exercise.
What are some of the worst things you see?
The worst thing for me is broken glass and bottles. You know, people smash a beer bottle at the bus stop. I really can't deal with that. It is not something I'm equipped to deal with.
What were some of the most peculiar things that you've picked up?
Oh, let me see. I had a wallet with $116 and wonderful, wonderful credit cards ...credit cards that I would never qualify for. It [belonged to] a 14-year-old young woman. She apparently had been at a sleepover.
About a month ago, right over there [in front of the Sixth Presbyterian Church on Forbes Avenue], I found a check for $1,500. And I went home and looked in the phone book thinking that maybe I can call the person to whom it was written. But I couldn't find his name, so I just took it to the bank on which it was written and turned it in. It was the simplest thing to do in that case. And, sometimes, financial matters you just don't like to get into.
What area requires more work?
Now this area [the corner of Forbes and Murray avenues] is the part I try to pay special attention. Usually I go around the corner where the Carnegie Library is with some trepidation. This bus stop is often an eyesore.
How do you prepare yourself for the rounds?
I drink a lot of coffee, a few cups of very strong coffee, then I'm ready to go ... but it's so easy. In the winter, I put on two pairs of pants and a very heavy coat, so I guess I look like a marshmallow woman.