Our last horse drawn attraction of that era, was the sheeny man. We could hear him calling from the next block up… “Sheeny Man Coming” and then toot his little tin horn. His wagon would be seen often enough, but his collections didn’t seem to be on a regular schedule. It was wartime and he would patrol the alleys where we played kick the can, sometimes hours on end. The alleys were distinctively large, paved and generally a safe place to play. Our sheeny man was a kind soul and liked to tease us. We would reward him from time to time with a handful of cherries off of the tree in our backyard.
The sheeny man was looking for rags, paperbags, newspapers, junk metals of any kind. So we would on occasion see some very interesting salvage. And during the war, I’m guessing, the sheeny man contributed to a huge national salvage operation. involving the collection of scrap metals. These materials were then turned into tanks, airplanes or machine guns… all went to the war effort. The factory where my Dad worked, just a few walking blocks away, made wheels for every kind of war machine you could imagine. We as kids had great imaginations in that regard. The most visible difference of the Sheeny man’s rig was that this wagon had balloon tires and he used a long handled whip with a short string attached at the end. It helped manage his one horse engine and, his engine wore bells.