The Eagle Meets Brooklyn Heights’ Captain Cleanup

BHB and its readers discovered Captain Cleanup, the Brooklyn Heights good samaritan known for painting and freshening up area mail boxes, fire boxes, fire hydrants and other objects, last year. As a matter of fact, he made the BHB Ten for 2013.

The Brooklyn Eagle profiles him today giving him the nom de bird, “Spencer Allen” (which btw is no CAPTAIN CLEANUP):

Allen’s work is bold when its repercussions are considered: Federal law states that vandalizing or defacing mailboxes is a crime punishable by fines up to $250,000, or by imprisonment for up to three years for each act of vandalism. But, in Allen’s view, it’s a mission to step in where the U.S. Postal Service has been unresponsive. Increasingly peeved by the incongruence of “tagged” (aka graffitied) mailboxes in an otherwise well-kept neighborhood, Allen woke up one morning in 2013 and decided to quell his vexation.

“This is absolutely ridiculous and I’m going to paint the thing because I’m tired of looking at it,” he recalls thinking of a green mailbox across the street from his apartment building.

One ebullient neighbor approached as he worked and said that for eight years she’d been trying to contact the responsible government agency to get the box repainted. Needless to say, she was ecstatic that Allen had assigned himself the task.

Photo: A USPS official paints over the Captain’s work last year.

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  • lois

    He should be arrested. It’s a waste of his time and money to be doing this.

  • MyShinyNewHandle

    Hope you got top dollar for that soul of yours.

  • Neighborhood mom

    Thank you to Captain Cleanup for his unselfish efforts to keep our neighborhood the beautiful, special place it is. He’s a neighborhood hero whose work is greatly appreciated. Even my kids always comment on how handsome and carefully painted his mailboxes are. Every time I walk past something he’s painted, I wish I could thank him. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that here.

  • AEB

    Fully understand the moment at which one recognizes that one can wait for “them” to do something about graffiti or take matters into one’s own hands.

    Liberating to choose to do the latter–and an act of responsible citizenship, in my opinion.

  • HicksOnHicks


  • Carlotta

    Happy to applaud an unselfish act.

  • ujh

    He obviously “defaced” government property. At least he could have chosen blue instead of green.

  • Louis Zamperini

    He’s a freakedy freaky freak. His work is graffiti, also.

  • AEB

    May I also add that several years ago I cleaned–rather than repainted–a graffiti-laden mailbox across the street from me.

    Within two weeks the box had been “tagged” again. Many punishment-fit-the-crime fantasies involving tagging the poip with his own spray paint.

  • MyShinyNewHandle

    You’re being silly, right? It’s a transfer box, not for public deposits—so green, not blue.

  • Louis Zamperini

    And his wife Kathy must be incredibly embarrassed!

  • Jorale-man

    Good for him. Although they may not be “regulation” colors, his work is generally quite muted and contextual. It’s not as if he’s painting them bright neon hues. We certainly need more people like this who devote their time to sprucing up the neighborhood.

  • ellymay878

    I commend the clean-up man for being a good citizen and acting to better our environment.I can’t believe the negative comments against the man. I had stopped reading the BHB because of the negativity and may do so again.

  • GHB

    I generally like his work, but why did he see the need to embellish the historic black lamppost near the Montague Street entrance to the Promenade with blue, green and white paint?