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Homeless Man Calls Off Crusade to Clean Up Connecticut City

Reader: The problems facing the city are bigger than one bum and his broom.

Editor's Note: Everyone in Middletown has seen the slim fellow striding around town with a broom over one shoulder and a leaf-blower on the other, with brightly colored bandannas in his back pocket. Here, in his own words, Fred Caroll explains why he's retired his cleaning tools.

Not for nothing am I called Dr. Freddy H Carroll.

For more than three years, Middletown has been my personal laboratory for an experiment in social consciousness-raising, a project I called “Bums with Brooms.”

The idea was simple enough. Could one “homeless” man (me) armed with the most common of household cleaning implements and assorted garden tools shame an entire city into cleaning up after itself?

Relentlessly, I went about my self-appointed mission, hunting down litter wherever and whenever I saw it: bottles and cans, tattered newspapers, candy wrappers, coffee cups, banana peels, cigarette butts (salivatory goodness!), leftover sandwich makings, discarded clothing (Don’t go there!) syringes, auto parts — in short, the detritus of a society hellbent on suffocating itself on human waste. When I wasn’t filling trash bags I pulled weeds.

Why? You ask. I needed something to fill my idle hours. Middletown is my home. And it seemed like the right thing to do. I got a little attention for my work, even won official kudos from other Middletown do-gooders, which I admit fed my not inconsiderable ego.

As satisfying as the experience was — and make no mistake about it, the experience was all that and more — I am hereby and forever more calling it quits, hanging up my broom and moving on to other pursuits. I leave it to others to decide how successful my experiment has been.

So, why has this bum chosen to sweep no more?

To be blunt, I’m scared. Many who once cast me a curious glance before moving on to go about their business, now pause to mutter threatening asides. This is true particularly in the North End, which seems to be going downhill despite the city’s best efforts to clean it up.

Kids on cell phones stroll casually down Main Street, transacting their nefarious “business,” seemingly unconcerned by the presence of police and of anyone else who takes a dim view of such activities. It’s a situation that needs cleaning up, to be sure. All I can do is look away. It pains me to look away.

If there’s a message I want you to take away from my words it’s this: in a free society we’re all responsible, in some way, for the actions of our neighbors. We’re all involved. Indeed, no man is an island. We can’t afford to turn a blind eye, but none of us can afford to act alone.

The problems facing Middletown — drugs, crime and the poverty that spawns so many of our social ills — are bigger than one bum and his broom, bigger than this bum, anyway.

The solution will come only when we act together to in good faith — together — to clean up a mess that has been piling up on our doorstep for many long decades.

Dr. Freddy H Carroll, Middletown

Robert Lenzzo July 15, 2011 at 07:35 PM
I use to clean up the town as well for about 6monts to a year.The citzens did not apreachate it and started to savatoge my equiptment.I was born here at Middlesex Hospital.I lived in Middlesex county,DeepRiver,OldSayBrook,Westbrook,Cliton,Old lyme,Essex,Haddam etc. I've been in Middletown for 21 years now as a resident and homeless on and off.A few years ago I decided to remain homeless so I can help others in need and to pay my tithes and offerings to the churches around town.I cleaned up all over town where ever I walked.Main St. Washington St. Newfield St. And other streets where ever I traveled throughout town.My Lord and Saviour gave up everything so that we can live our lives and I'm doing the same for others.Bob(Robert Edwin Lenzzo Jr.)
John Kilian July 20, 2011 at 04:32 PM
The king is gone, but not forgotten. When is your memorial service being held?
Robert Lenzzo July 23, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Freds second and secret reason to clean up Middletown was to smoke weed.He was not homless when he did the homless report he never talked about the homeless all he did was complain about the Main St artIt should have been called lets boo hoo about stuff.And as far as mattail arts go I have much more self traing martail arts in my little finger than you do in you'r whole body.I proved this at klekolo when I through a back kick and a side kick and withdrew them without falling on my head like you did. You are but a "dr. of nonsencial bull shit. the only thing you are good at is wit and chess.You've been nothing but a pain in everyones butt since you showed up. Did you realy have to move into my home town? Why don't you move back to the town and back under the rock that you cralled out of.Bob
Robert Lenzzo July 23, 2011 at 03:23 PM
To John Kilian At least when I die I'll be going to heaven to be with the King of Kings where will you be going in the other direction I hope. You are nothing but a fool to mock me or God because He sent me into this town and if your stupid enough to be my emanie the your stupid enough to be Gods emanie because what you say and do to me you also do to Him I'll keep you in my prayers and put in a good word for you and maybe you'll make it.Bob.
John Kilian July 25, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Rob, I was quoting Neil Young's ode to Elvis Presley in reference to Fred's abdication from his place of prominence. Did not mean to reference you or any other sovereign entity in any way. Sorry for the confusion.

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