Bill Hoppes has the kind of thick Pennsylvania Dutch accent that sounds just right saying things like “Throw Papa down the stairs his shoes” or “Throw the cow over the fence some hay.”
But these days, Hoppes is more apt to be saying “Do you have ID?” to those who are coming to drop off grass clippings and branches at the Upper Macungie Yard Waste Drop-Off Center.
Hoppes, 81, who retired from the machine shop at the Unicast foundry in Boyertown in 1992, has been helping to man the township’s yard waste drop-off center for three years. His job is to make sure the people who use the center are really from Upper Macungie and are following the rules for what the center accepts.
“We have people from out of the township that try to get in,” Hoppes explained one afternoon last week. He and another yard waste center worker, Forrest Hausman, were hired to supervise the use of the center because the township had a problem with people dropping off garbage and other waste when there was no one policing it, Hoppes said.
Most people are nice and understanding about his request for them to show a driver’s license but sometimes someone will be nasty about it, he said. “People should read the signs,” Hoppes said simply. More than a few get a kick out of his accent, which they can’t quite place.
“Everybody says to me, ‘What part of Ireland are you from?’” he said chuckling.
Some days he’s kept busy by a steady stream of cars at the yard waste center. On the quieter times he retreats into his little “house” at the site, which is equipped with a small fridge, a microwave and an air conditioner.
Hoppes, who lives in Maxatawny Township, served in the Army from 1948-1952 during the Korean War and was in Korea for “one year, six months and two days,” he recalls. He worked for nearly 30 years for the Unicast foundry.
He lost his wife and son in 2006 but the great-grandfather of five has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I’m always working,” he said. “I can’t sit around at home.”
"I like working here," he said. "They treat us good."