The clean-up invasion hit the city at its most northern frontier on the morning of May 1, and began moving southward, conquering new territory each day, until it had swept the entire East Side. Then crossing the river the drive circled back to the north, ending victoriously with Harbor Day on May the fifteenth.
Before the allotted clean-up day district captains “Paul Revered” through their territories, marshaling their recruits and making plans for daybreak attack. Bright and early the companies assembled on the outer border of their districts and the battle began. Schools were dismissed so children might join. All day the smoke of bonfires curled skyward while the deadly charge on disorder, dirt and disease advanced. Forces met at noon at the most centrally located fire station where a luncheon was served by the women of the district and plans and progress of the drive were discussed. By nightfall huge piles of non-burnable rubbish were heaped along the curbs to be removed two days later (and in many cases weeks later) by the city street cleaning department.
Profits in Precaution
Children became doubly interested in the drive when Timms, Cress and Company of Portland agreed to buy bright tin cans. They planned to melt them, using the metal for sash weights and the like. Tons of cans reached the factory by way of the fire stations that served as market points.
The actual results of this city-wide clean-up campaign compiled from written reports of the district captains by Field Marshal Kanzler were: 8,342 (50 x 100) lots cleaned; 1,231 lots planted; 389 houses painted as a direct result of the drive; 113 shacks removed; 754 neglected premises improved; 459 lesser nuisances abated; 131 large unsightly places cleaned; 43,031 pounds of tin cans bought by Timms, Cress and Company from the children for $86.74; the boys and girls also received $743.46 from the sale of other junk; 396 five-ton truck loads, or 3,133 yards of non-burnable rubbish removed by the street cleaning department and thousands of yards of rubbish burned of which no record could be kept (41).
The success of the “Clean-up and Paint-up” drive prompted the Fire Prevention Bureau and the Civic Bureau of the Chamber of Commerce to enlist further public interest in fire prevention by conducting Portland’s first “Waste Paper Day” on July 25, 1916. A special appeal was made to every child in the entire city and a date chosen that would not interfere with the children’s school activities (38).
Captains of the fire stations were purchasing reception agents for the waste paper. That day the children of Portland collected $1,645.00 for 235 tons or about 15 carloads of waste paper (41)
Burning cigar or cigarette butts tossed out of windows in the downtown district caused so many fires in summer that an ordinance was passed making this thoughtless act unlawful (42). The Fire Marshal, always alert, stood literally at the elbows of the entire Portland citizenry with warnings and timely suggestions for the prevention of fire (43 & 44).