The death of his daughter's prize cow from internal bleeding was the last straw in 20 years of dairy farming that saw Grimes lose $50,000 worth of cattle, senselessly. They all died from internal bleeding when they scooped up broken glass along with their feed.
The glass, Grimes says, came from bottles tossed along the roadside adjoining his large dairy farm east of here, at the south end of the Willamette Valley.
Now Grimes is spending as much money as he lost to litter to fight litter. He has spent more than $10,000 just in making a 2S-minute color movie about the problems of litter. He has given the State of Oregon 26 copies for distribution among the state's schools.
The dairyman prowled the legislative halls in Salem for six years before he succeeded in getting tougher anti-litter legislation.
Grimes was making the pitch in the days before it became the fashionable thing to do. "I was all alone in those days," he recalled.
To drive home his point, Grimes would haul sacks of roadside litter to Salem to dump on the table before a startled legislative committee. He wanted them to see what he was talking about.
Grimes has other ideas about fighting litter, too. He is conducting a statewide contest among high schools in the state's 13 community college districts to see which can do the best litter cleanup job. He will give ice cream-at the rate of 100 gallons per winner-as an incentive. He also promised to send two state youth representatives to the annual Keep America Beautiful, Inc., meeting in New York City.
His contests have attracted so much interest that the state's community colleges are now challenging each other in a cleanup campaign. Grimes is pledging ice cream to these winners, too.
In 1969 Grimes was successful in getting the laws he wonted to stiffen penalties for people who litter. The penalties in Oregon now include up to 30 days in jail; one to five days of compulsory roadside cleanup work; up to $500 fine; suspension of a driver's license, hunting, or fishing license, or boat registration for up to 90 days.
Grimes said he isn't much interested in the fines. He'd like to see all judges impose the litter patrol penalty. This would have much more impact, he thinks. He spends some of his time traveling around the state talking to judges about this.
His 60-cow dairy herd is not forgotten during all this litter fighting. Grimes finds the time he spends milking his herd "gives me a lot of time to think."
He remembers returning from Salem one day where he heard testimony that no public official ever get out and pick up litter.
I came home," Grimes recalled, "and all the while I was milking I was thinking about that statement." So at 9 o'clock that night he phoned local legislators and county officials. The next morning a group of them were out cleaning roadside litter near the Grimes farm.
If he hadn't had the curiosity to get an autopsy on some of his cows, Grimes might never, have suspected that broken glass was the cause of death. One of the prize cows he'd lost was a national champion valued at $25,000.
"I'll bet there are thousands of cows, sheep and even wild animals that die this way each year in Oregon," he said.
Another personal campaign waged by the dairyman is the awarding of "Keep Oregon Clean and Green" roadside signs to organizations around the state. They must pledge to keep the roadside litter-free for a half-mile each side of the sign.
There's much talk now In Oregon of restrictive legislation to ban non-returnable beverage cans and bottles.
Grimes doesn't think much of the idea. "I don't feel anyone should state his opinion until he has spent a half day picking up litter," he explained.
After 20 years of litter pickup Grimes finds that "60 to 70 per cent of the bottles break anyway" so that a high deposit requirement would not eliminate the problem.
Grimes has gradually reduced his farm from 1,100 acres to 350, and he has only three miles of road frontage now.
But that is "90 per cent litter-free," with road side signs at each end of the Grimes farm that proudly proclaim, "Entering litter-free southern Linn County."