‘If we can just instill this in the kids, it will help us as we go along.’
Cecil Pill worked at several jobs before finding a successful career in sales. In retirement he found a cause and a new job with a broom as part of a Saturday morning clean - up crew. Pill and his wife, Lucille, live in Studio City.
We’ve lived in Studio City since 1971. While I was working, I would always complain that Ventura Boulevard looked like a pigpen because there was so much litter scattered around. People didn’t give a damn.
So in 1983, when I retired, I figured, now that I’ve got the time, I’ll do something about it. Irwin Stanton, David Vowell and a couple of other people had already spun off the beautification association from the Studio City residents’ association. They were the ones who spearheaded it.
We took about four weeks to get merchants lined up on our litter basket program. The city furnishes the baskets with the plastic trash liners, and the merchants sign on to take responsibility to empty the baskets as needed. It took quite a while for the merchants to start emptying the baskets. In the meantime, we did it every week. Finally, we put it to the merchants that “either you guys do it or we will take the baskets away.”
If we could get the merchants to pay as much attention to the outside of the store as they do the inside, then we would really have a nice community. There are a handful who are sweeping the sidewalks and hosing down in front of their stores, and they twisted their neighbors’ arm so there are three or four in a row who will do it. We hope it will catch on.
We also go out and clean up the public sites we see covered with litter. This morning we cleaned the area between Lankershim and the Vineland on-ramp. These are out-of-the-way places, but they are public areas.
We’ve tried to discourage a lot of the real estate people and people who advertise for nightclubs and rock concerts from posting their circulars on public poles and palm trees. We’ve written to these people, and some of them have given us cooperation. With others we’re going to have to do a little arm-twisting, but we’ll get it done.
We have a small 4-by-6-foot trailer with a canopy over it, and on the side is painted, “I Love a Clean Studio City.” We park it on the boulevard where we will get some exposure, and people have become aware of what we are doing. Most of the people on the street are glad to see us doing it. But it’s the old story, let George do it. So some of us changed our name to George, and we’ve done it. We’ve announced publicly that, as of July 4th, Independence Day, we’re going to have to get more people involved in order to continue the program. We don’t want to spend the rest of our lives doing this every Saturday.
Carpenter School had a carnival in May, and we parked our trailer over there. We sold about 50 T-shirts that said, “I Love a Clean Studio City” on the front and “Eyesore Hit Squad” on the back, and we gave away about 200 buttons. A lot of the kids said, “We won’t throw our stuff on the streets. We’ll try to keep it clean.” If we can just instill this in the kids, it will help us as we go along.
I like retirement. I look into different investment ideas. I do a little exercising. I rediscovered the library. When I was working, I never had time to read. I have this somewhat nosy nature. I like to talk with people and find out what is going on in my neighborhood. I have very few days when time hangs heavy on my head.
I spend one day a week cleaning up the trash in Studio City and one day a week doing volunteer counseling for the L.A. County Consumer Affairs Office in Van Nuys. The rest of the time is for me. We have a little property which I take care of, but, outside of that, we just do what we want to do.
I get a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing that people are starting to take an interest in the cleanup program. I can drive down the boulevard and see that most of the merchants are fulfilling their end of the agreement and emptying the trash cans. And those that don’t? I send them a little post-card reminder, and they do it.