BRONXVILLE -- On a sunny afternoon, Charles Fike digs deep into Bronxville's rubbish bins, moving from one to another on his Trek bicycle, pulling out from them all the bottles and cans he can find. Often he lets out an "Ah ha!" as when he discovers a full case of Mike's Hard lemonade, the jackpot.
He does it almost every clear day, sometimes by car, aiming at the five cents apiece that stores like C-Town, A&P and Stop & Shop pay for recyclable bottles and cans. He thinks of the environment too, taking his time to separate the non-refundable bottles and dump them into a recycling bin.
"Sometimes I even collect old cartons," Fike says, holding an empty milk package. He explains that he turns them into bird feeders.
"Squirrels climb on them too," he says. "I like when the squirrels climb on the bird feeders."
Wearing sneakers, a green sweater and green denim pants stuffed into his socks, he looks more like a boy than a 40-year-old, despite some gray hair. His face is tanned from many sunny mornings working at the Bronxville village tennis courts, where he does a variety of tasks, but mainly keeps the place clean.
"He is more capable than we may think," says the tennis court's manager Mike Virgilio, 59, who hired Fike 16 years ago.
After a 90 minute round that included stretches of Palmer and Kraft Avenues, Parkway and Pondfield Roads, and Park Place, his plastic bag already full, Fike goes to the A&P supermarket at Cedar Street to fill the recycling machines and collect his bounty. He earned $5.40 for 61 plastic bottles, 14 glass bottles and 33 cans.
He can't wait until July comes, so he can again sing patriotic songs at the band concerts in front of Bronxville School , as he does every year. He carols a chorus, just to show he is ready.
"Three cheers for the red, white and blue."
Then he opens a broad smile, pedals his bicycle and rides home, but not without stopping by the school's yard and emptying its rubbish bins.
Do you return the bottles for the deposit, just recycle them, or throw them out? Comment below, or tell us on Facebook.
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