Retiring street sweeper Larry Lieswald provided the final brushoff, but Mayor Richard Riordan supplied the send-off Monday morning when the Rosemead man ended 33 years of cleaning downtown Los Angeles.
Riordan surprised Lieswald by joining him for breakfast when he rumbled to a stop in his 15-ton sweeper outside Nick’s Cafe on North Spring Street.
Lieswald, 61, was profiled last week by The Times. He explained that while he has been robbed, attacked at gunpoint and has watched murders unfold in front of him, his street-level perception is that the city is on the rebound from difficult days of the past.
“Los Angeles is a lot better than it used to be, in terms of crime and everything else,” said Lieswald, whose predawn street sweeping covered parts of a 20-mile downtown route bounded on one side by skid row and on the other by the city’s glitzy financial district.
As usual, cafe co-owner Nancy Kelel had Lieswald’s regular order of ham, eggs and cottage fries on the grill when he and the mayor strolled into the 50-year-old restaurant. Riordan ordered bacon, eggs and hash browns and picked up the $13.40 check.
Before Lieswald headed back to the city equipment yard to turn in his sweeper for the last time, Riordan presented him with a street sign proclaiming him to be a “Monumental Street Sweeper, 1965-1998.”
“For 33 years Larry has worked hard to keep our downtown streets clean, picking up both trash and sometimes criminals,” Riordan said.