It’s National Walking Day, so today we have the story of the guy known as the “Walking Man of Annapolis,” Carlester Smith.
We don’t know a whole lot about his life, other than that he came to Maryland’s capital city as a kid, one of eight.
Some news reports said he had developmental disabilities, that he went to vocational school and worked for a time as a janitor.
There were also unfounded rumors that he had given away a fortune before being permanently injured by a car.
Smith eventually became well known in and around Annapolis for his daily routine.
He would speed-walk through his neighborhood and clean up trash, with plastic bags hanging out of his pockets.
Sometimes he’d wash a few windows, too.
Local business owners gave him some money for the work.
Along the way, he’d wave at cars, and flash a big smile at people on the sidewalk.
It was the kind of life that often doesn’t attract a lot of attention, or at least a lot of positive attention.
But people in the neighborhood came to appreciate Smith’s quiet, kind presence,
They kept an eye out for the Walking Man when they saw him, and if they didn’t see him, they’d ask around to make sure he was ok.
People wrote songs about him.
They raised thousands of dollars to help with his medical bills when his health made it too hard for him to keep walking.
And the governor of Maryland declared Carlester Smith Day in honor of a “beloved Annapolis icon who has been devoted to keeping the streets clean.”
In March 2021, Annapolis dedicated a mural celebrating Smith on the side of a store where he used to buy himself sodas after cleaning up the area.
It shows the Walking Man with a black plastic bag in hand, still keeping things clean for his neighbors.
A tour operator in London has something called the Rubbish Trip.
Participants learn about the history of collecting garbage as they walk through the city.
But they don’t have to clean up as they go.
Carlester Smith, the Annapolis ‘Walking Man,’ has died at age 63 (Capital Gazette)
London Rubbish Tour (University College London)
Photo by Sonja via Flickr/Creative Commons