A closer look at Glenn ?the Can Man? Whittaker


Dan Roberts, Kristine Young, And Megan SchiferlReporter, News Editor and Juice Editor

Brookings man continues to be a familiar face around recycling services and recognizable to college students.

Many people would say that aluminum cans are not worth the time it takes to collect them. Glenn “the Can Man” Whittaker is not one of these. Whittaker is often seen around Brookings on his bike collecting cans, or downtown at his favorite hangout spot. Although Whittaker is a familiar face to many in Brookings, he is also a mystery to some.

Whittaker has a sister who lives west of here and a brother who lives in Phoenix, Ariz. Both of his parents are deceased. Whittaker has lived in Brookings for the last “20 years or so.”

“I don’t really remember how old I am. I figure about 75. You can only keep counting so high before ya just give up,” Whittaker said.

When Whittaker turned 18 his parents told him it was time to leave and get a job. So he left and worked on a small farm in Lake Mitchell for 14 years. After working in Lake Mitchell, he ended up in Brookings working for the state.

“I’ve worked for the state in the (SDSU) Administration Building, cleaning up after students.” Whittaker said.

Upon entering retirement, Whittaker began collecting cans a secondary form of income.

“I’m retired, or supposed to be. But I don’t know enough to quit,” Whittaker said.

Whittaker claims he was able to roof his house located by the grain elevators a few years ago with profits made from his can collecting. He has a regular route he uses to hit areas with lots of cans, but varies routes depending on what is going on in Brookings.

“I will go downtown for Hobo Day. … I need a new cart,” Whittaker said.

Whittaker isn’t sure what he would do if cans were to lose their value.

“Oh I don’t know,” he said. “I figure I’d find something else to collect. It’s all I know.”

Whittaker said he generally enjoys the college students in Brookings and said he wishes he were a college student.

“Oh, you treat me pretty well. I can’t complain,” Whittaker said. “There are a few that give me trouble, but I don’t let that bother me much. I got my flag for my bike stolen a few days ago, but I got me a new one. Testing her out see if they go for this one too.”

Whittaker has business cards that were made by an SDSU student.

“I got them there at the place by The 9. Someone from school (SDSU) made them up for me. Oh, and they haven’t been a’ working just yet but that’s cause I got my number on there disconnected.”

While Whittaker has never been married, he has many friends in town, including members of the SDSU Police Department.

“The cops are my buddies,” Whittaker said. “But they don’t tell me everything.”

Whittaker has been saving up to buy a new police scanner with the profits from can collecting. He hopes to listen to the scanner to know when parties are being broken up by police. Once these parties are broken up, he can go to the house and collect the leftover cans.

Whittaker has been a friendly and familiar face in the community and hopes to continue to be so, especially to the SDSU students.

“If you see my bike or trailer, come say “hi.'” Whittaker said.

#1.1743566:3535650864.png:Glenn Whittaker 11-03-2010 55:Glenn Whittaker, a familiar face around Brookings, can often be found roaming the streets of Brookings in search of cans to collect. Whittaker normally goes can collecting in the evening. :Collegian Photo by Brittany Canales