Senior grabs chance to help clean community

Senior grabs chance to help clean community
Linda Reeds

On an average day, Linda Reeds is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed well before sunrise. She doesn’t own a television, so she begins her day by listening to the morning news on National Public Radio. By 7 a.m., she can usually be found riding her purple bicycle on St. Johns Avenue near the Shoppes of Avondale, using a grabber to pick up trash and cigarette butts.

The 77-year-old began doing her part to keep Avondale clean when she heard the owner and manager of All Spiced Up having a conversation with other merchants about beautifying the neighborhood. Reeds enjoys Wednesday night wine tastings there, and also discovered truffle salt amongst their many wares. “I told them, ‘I’m a retired old lady who lives down the street. “If you get me a grabber, I’ll pick up some trash.’ Tenley Detrich, who owns a dress shop across the street, bought me my first grabber,” Reeds said.

Reeds fondly recalled her first street-cleaning foray. With new grabber in hand, she set out on her bicycle, which she fondly calls her “Cadillac,” and began to roll down St. Johns Avenue. “I managed to go on my side down Avondale to Dancy Street and come up the other side. I picked up trash and cigarette butts in the street, near the businesses, and even in the flower pots,” she said. “I didn’t think it would be as hard as it is. I was trying to check my physical capacity because I haven’t had a job for a long time.”

Within a short time, Reeds wore out the grabber, but she was gifted a new one by Ana Hernandez of All Spiced Up. Without missing a beat, Reeds was back out on the street, using her eagle eyes to spy cigarette butts and small pieces of trash. “My eyesight is still great – I don’t even need glasses,” she said. 

Famous for her purple bicycle that she calls her “Cadillac,” Linda Reeds keeps the streets near the Shoppes of Avondale free of trash and cigarette butts.
Famous for her purple bicycle that she calls her “Cadillac,” Linda Reeds keeps the streets near the Shoppes of Avondale free of trash and cigarette butts.

A couple of years ago she received a Christmas gift that made doing her civic duty a little easier. “Ana, Bronwyn and Jason (of All Spiced Up) presented me with panniers for my bicycle. I line the panniers with plastic sacks, and that is where I put the trash,” Reeds said.

She is also a big fan of Open Road Bicycles. “When my last bike got stolen, Holt (owner of Open Road Bicycles) helped set me up with this one – my purple bicycle. It was affordable for me. The shop owners and the people in this community are lovely. It’s a wonderful place to live.”

Reeds, who hails from the Ozarks, moved to Jacksonville 23 years ago and has lived in Avondale for the past 10 years. She was a telephone operator for 28 years and retired when her job was phased out by technology. Thirty years ago, she got rid of her car and decided to rely on a bicycle and public transportation to get her where she needs to go. She divorced many years ago, but shamelessly brags about the many men in her life.  “I have five men in my life, and I love then all dearly – they are absolutely marvelous,” she said. “I have two sons and three grandsons and they are all wonderful.”

Her hobbies include swimming at the YMCA, watching good movies and listening to great music – preferably classical piano. She owns a Steinway Model O Grand Piano that is more than 100 years old. “It is old like me, and I love to play it. That’s probably the most enjoyable part of my day,” she said. Additionally, she rides her bike at least five miles a day, because it’s “absolute lunacy to sit around when you age.”

Reeds is currently on a hiatus from her daily trash duty, because she has worn out her second grabber. “I’m too old to stoop over and pick things up. I’m 77, and I call it pushing 80 – I’m just trying to get used to the idea that I’m old. But as soon as I get another grabber, I’ll be on the job again,” she said.

By Kandace Lankford
Resident Community News

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