May 17, 2009

On Garbage Picking, the Sheeny Man, and the American Rust Belt

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Left: How long before this discarded ceiling fan gets picked up from the street?

While visiting with my grandparents the other day, my grandfather mentioned an expression I had not heard in some time: "the sheeny man." Originally "sheeny" was an ethnic slur used to describe immigrant Jews, but in the Detroit area "the sheeny man" referred to anyone who patrolled the alleys looking for value in the trash of residents.

In other words, a "garbage picker," though these days such people are more likely to be referred to as urban foragers, curb shoppers, or recycling entrepreneurs.

In Detroit during the 1960s and 1970s, the sheeny man was just as likely to be black as white, and this was one of those expressions passed from generation to generation that lost its ethnic connotations. While being called a "sheeny man" was certainly less glamorous than being called a "rock star" or "MLB starting pitcher," in the blue-collar Detroit neighborhoods in which I grew up "sheeny man" was just a work-oriented moniker, nothing more.

I recently remarked on another blog that I have spent almost the entirety of my life (with the exception of vacations and a brief stint living in Dallas) in the middle of the American Rust Belt in cities like Toledo and Detroit. I do not know if urban foraging is as prevalent in wealthier cities, but it is clear that plenty of people in decaying Midwestern cities derive a significant portion of their incomes by sifting through the trash of others.

What I find especially interesting is the rapidity with which items I discard get snapped up by folks driving through the neighborhoods. At times I scarcely return to my house before a rumbling old pickup appears to take away an item I place at the street, hauling away material that I considered trash but which has value to another person.

Of course, I am not immune to the lure of someone else's unwanted materials, and over the years I have procured from the trash objects that still possessed value and utility. These ranged from bikes to lawnmowers to snowblowers, though my wife will argue that much of the "wealth" I brought home merely collected dust until a yard sale or an inevitable garage-cleaning.

So pick away, ye dumpster divers and refuse gleaners: our landfills are less full and our garages are less cluttered for your efforts.

45 comments:

historymike said...

For the record, the ceiling fan hit the street at 2:12 PM EST Sunday 17 May 2009. I'll post when it gets picked up

Hooda Thunkit said...

Mike,

I recently posted a similar blog entry calling thees modern day "sheenies" scavengers, a close cousin to the traditional dumpster divers.

You know Toledo has addressed this activity with legislation that makes it illegal to "acquire" anything someone sets out either for garbage or recycling.

In their mind (I know, "mind" doesn't exactly seem appropriate) anything set out for garbage pickup or for recycling is legally the property of the City of Toledo...

The original intent was to curtail the scavengers from picking out the most valuable recyclables, and, as it seems to have recently happened, causing the value of the curb side recycling to turn from a minor profit center into a loss (and therefore a cost incurring expense).

Needless to say these entrepreneurial urban scavengers (and aluminum/copper hoarders like me) have done just that and cut significantly into the recycling profits stream, so much so that we (Toledo) now has to pay for recycling instead of making a modest income from the effort.

This could easily be corrected if the Police were assigned to patrol...

(What was I thinking??? We've just recycled 75 cops.

Never mind. . .)

;-)

mud_rake said...

My wife tells the story of 'rag men' who drove their wagons down the alleys of her neighborhood [Cherry/Central] when she was a young girl.

One of them was known as Red the Ragman who, in fact, befriended her father who, by the way, took book on horses. Interesting set of characters, the two of them.

Red coincidentally was a Jew who earned extra money by sitting shiva in funeral homes.

Unfortunately, my wife does not know his real name, only Red the Ragman. May he rest in peace.

David said...

Great Blog. It was always the willingness to grab used mattresses that I found the most disturbing. All the rest of it just seems like a good idea if you've got the eye for it.

Mad Jack said...

Last summer the local underground scandal sheet ran a one page article on furnishing your apartment with discarded furnishings you can find next to the sidewalk. Many college students throw away furniture and housewares rather than carting the whole mess back to Kansas, and a person can find pretty much anything they need either for free or at garage sales.

It doesn't surprise me that Toledo would pass legislation against rag picking. After all, if government can oppress the less economically fortunate with yet another law, why not?

I hope Carty gets run over by a lawn mower.

El Zebra said...

when i was a toddler i used be deathly afraid of 'the sheeny man'. i think my parents or grandparents must have said something about him at some point. that was like 30 years ago. i always thought i must have made up the name sheeny man but recently found out he was real. i also found out, from your article, it was primarily a detroit thing which is where we lived.
thanks for sharing.

Dufuss said...

I remember the "sheeny man". I'm from a small farming town in Ill, and in the 1950's I remember a tall old man with a pronounced limp pushing an old wooden cart with big steel wheels down the street and all the while whistling as he went. I just called him, "The Whistler", but now I know he was the Sheeny Man. He was a very likeable, happy and friendly person. Wish now I would have got to known him better. We still have them here in Az, and when the City has Big Trash Day, the pickups and cars with trailer come around and scavage a lot of the stuff that would normally go to the land fill. They are the "Sheeny Men" of this era. Their efforts today, as in the past, has brought the Planet into the Recycling Age; Green is Good.

Ramonas Voices said...

Wow, can't believe I found this. My husband and I were just talking about "sheeny men", and I googled it to see what it actually meant. (Haven't gotten there yet, as I stopped here first.)

I lived in Highland Park, MI in the 50s and our sheeny was black and sat in a horse-pulled wagon. He went down the alley blowing a whistle and singing "Sheeny Ma-an". As I recall, he actually bought things like newspapers and rags--probably anything he could pick up cheap. (If he were simply picking, why the whistle and the song?)

Great post. I do remember reading that it was a derogatory term disliked by the Jews, but to me they were, as you said, simply men making a career of recycling.

bullhocky said...

My sheeny man bought junk and loaded it on a horse drawn wagon 1940's and fifty's.
Lived in what is now called Warren, Mi

dixiedoug said...

Having grown up in Warren and Center Line near Detroit in the 50s and 60s, I heard my mom talk about the Sheeny Man. She lived and worked in that area from the 1920s to 1950s. I never knew until your blog that sheeny was once a racial slur. We just thought of the person as a recycler.

Sheeny said...

I'm 63 years old and have been called Sheeny for the last 30 years.

Once had a cap with #1 Sheeny on it; a woman came up to me at the flea market in Tulsa, OK and said, "You're not a Jew", to which I replied, "And you're not from Oklahoma."

She was from Chicago.

My wife and kids and even my grandkids call me 'Sheeny'.

I sell online as 'Sheeny's Shack'.

Ahhh, those were the days.

garebear said...

Seriously, The Sheeny Man is an important subject.

My recall of seeing Sheeny Man was that of a horse drawn wagon on auto tires. The horse was big like a Percheron. The horse also wore a bell of somesort and the team traveled the street in only one direction. The Sheeny Man's prime interest was in rag cloth. Hemp, cotton or linen. The fibres from these plants is

garebear said...

Seriously, The Sheeny Man is an important subject.

My recall of seeing Sheeny Man was that of a horse drawn wagon on auto tires. The horse was big like a Percheron. The horse also wore a bell of somesort and the team traveled the street in only one direction. The Sheeny Man's prime interest was in rag cloth. Hemp,cotton or linen. The fibres from these plants is ideal for paper manufacture and produces the highest quality papers.

james said...

my parents (long time residents of
detroit's eastside) (the city airport)told me of a sheeny success
story, arthur fleischman, a jewish
ragpicker form the thirties, became
a very suuccessful carpet merchant
(many detroit locations, starting at gratiot near houston-whittier in
detroit) his son larry carried on and expanded the business into the late 90's. we never thought of the
term (sheeny) as derogatory. our's
was an older "black" man driving a
horse-drawn wagon down the alleys,
tooting an old tin horn to announce
his arrival. additionally i remember the knife-sharpening puchcart man (in the street, not the alley) the horse-drawn milkman's wagon (the horse was gentle and we'd feed it sprigs of grass pulled from along the curb)
everything about our live's then was more tactile (the senses)
rather than now, where all seems dependent on a battery or button or electricity ...but we do have
our modern sheenies (beat-up old
pickup trucks combing and sorting
the stuff at the curb on trash day
or behind the st.vincent depaul and salvation army stores for their discards)many of these guys have lost their jobs and their un-
employment bennies and do their recycling to put some food on the table (or worse).

billoliver said...

This is great. I made my first sale to the "Sheeny" - waited for hours and when he came down the alley he gave me a penny for a tire. I was five and lived on Clairmount(4022)in Detroit of course. My dad used to sing a song which went something like this. "Ollie Kazinski, The sheenie washed the winski, The winski broke, the sheenie got soaked. Goodby to Ollie Kazinski". or maybe it was Ali, or Ole, but does anyone out there know where that came from? I got to get it out of my head. billoliver@bellsouth.net

esteban said...

I lived in Detroit near Chandler Park (Dickerson and Warren Ave.) until 1958 and the alleys were always well-scavenged by the Sheeny Man. He terrified me and I would run into my house on Lenox if the word came out he was somewhere around. He was a very low-key black man that really had never done anything to frighten me but the sight of his horse-drawn wagon, pulled by a sway-backed horse with blinders on, sent shivers down my spine. We moved further North in the late 50's staying in the confines of Detroit, (my father worked for the city)but to an area without alleys and lost out on the history of the Sheeny Man.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Grew up in Detroit 7mile/Mound and the sheeny man with his horse was a highlight of the week. This was in the 50's and the movies and TV (rich folk had )showed us cowboys,but the only horses we knew were the sheeny man's, milkmans,mounted police, and the horses rich folk could ride on Belle Isle.

David D. Wronski said...

Thanks for the article. I found your blog and the Sheeny Man post in a search preparing my own blog piece on the sheeny man remembered from my younger days in MoTown. (http://wronskiwrambles.blogspot.com/2011/02/xxxxx-sheeny-man-this-is-about-being.html)

You might also like my reference to your lovely Toledo where every year we would drive down from Detroit to load up on pyrotechnics. (http://wronskiwrambles.blogspot.com/2010/09/me-and-my-cars-and-some-sideroads-along.html)

Not so much historical, admitedly.

David Wronski

prehner said...

I grew up in Windsor, Ontario during the 50's and 60's. We had a Sheeny man. I was born in 56 and the guy scared me to death. I was afraid he would pick me up and try to sell me, so I stayed at a distance. He would make his weekly trip down the alley and pick up and sell garbage. I would see my old toys down the block, sold to some other kid who saw value in what mom would throw away. The funny thing is that I now work for an insurance company and am in charge of selling salvage from claims. Either to people or at auction. I guess that makes me a Sheeny Man!

prehner said...

Great article! I grew up in Windsor, Ontario in the 50's and 60's and we had a Sheeny Man. He would make his once a week trip down our alley and pick up and sell garbage. I would see my old toys, that mom threw out, down the street the next day making some other kid happy. I use to be afraid of him and his horse. I thought he would snatch me up and try to sell me. Funny thing is I now work for an insurance company and part of my job is to get salvage picked up from claims. We then sell it or take to auction. That makes me a Sheeny Man! ...Sheeny Pete

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in Windsor, Ontario however the Sheeny Man only came down our alley once a month. He had his horse drawn wagon and the horse wore a huge bell and blinders. He would shout"SHEENY" as he rode along. Sometimes my mom would have a carrot for the horse. He was an elderly (at least to me as a child) man with white hair and a long beard. Almost reminded us kids of Santa ...lol

Patricia said...

I am amazed that these folks remember, as I do, the sheeny man. I lived in the 7 mile/Woodward neighborhood and heard the sheeny man often. He had a horse drawn wagon and picked up junk. I also remember the fruit and vegetable wagon going down the street...Leo Salvaggio I think. These were golden memories and great pieces of the culture. mcdaisy..

catpayne said...

I grew up on Phillip and Kercheval in Detroit in the mid to late forties. The sheeny man came down the alley in a horse drawn wagon on a weekly basis chanting, "Any rags, any bones, any bottles today..." Then he would expand that to, "Any tin, any paper, any bags, any sacks today...", then back to "Any rags..." and repeat the chant the horse's hooves clip clopped every house or two. A few children feared the sheeny man because of their parents threat, "I'm going to give you to the sheeny man if you aren't good." Mercifully, my four sisters and I never heard that threat so as soon as one of us heard his chant begin, everyone would freeze, then race excitedly from our backyard play to the alley to catch up with him. If we were playing in the alley, all play immediately stopped as we raced to swarm his cart. (The alley was a favourite play area for all the neighborhood children, as alleys then were clean, concrete, and dipped in the middle for rain water drainage. Alleys were a fun safe place to play ball, tag, or to roller skate.) With his horse drawn wagon, we children loved seeing the sheeny man come. Always a kind listener, we would talk to him while he waited to collect his goods and of course always to pet his horse. Other common neighborhood vendors were found at the front of the house. The scissors sharpener chanted, "Knives, scissors sharpened today..." while pushing his cart down the sidewalks. In the afternoon, the horse drawn flat bed truck loaded with vegetables came, calling out his chant, "I got beautiful omatooooes, carrttots, cucumbers, lettuuuuuce today." The early morning brought the horse drawn milk truck delivering glass bottles of milk, the thick cream separated at the top to be made into butter by us children later that day. The ice man also came in the afternoon, minding how many blocks of ice one wanted for the ice box by noting which coloured card was placed in the front window. In the humid summer, we snatched chips of ice from the back of the truck for a treat in the humid summer. Ah, such a delicious treat, best eaten while sitting on the curb with friends. We children also followed the mailman as he walked his route, hand delivering mail to every house on the block. Sweet memories!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in St. Paul, MN in the 50's. We remember a man with a horse drawn wagon going up and down the alleys. I never knew what he was doing, but remember a story of one of the kids in the neighborhood being run over by one of the wheels of the wagon. We called him, "the rag sheeny".

Larry Gedunk said...

I also grew up in the Detroit area (Berkley) but my Grandmother lived on Helen south of Harper and had an alley behind her house. The "Sheeny Wagon" went by weekly and I loved to follow the black man "the sheeny man" who drove it for a few blocks to see what he would get from the trash bins. Now whenever I see a truck filled with recyceld home goods (trash) I call it a sheeny wagon. Although I live in a suburban area of Cincinnati, the sheeny men and women comeby every Sudnay night to pick through the trash for metal and other useful items. I have recycled several of my neighbors items over the years including a perfectly good set of wrought iron patio furniture...which then went out front aof my house and are probably b eimng used by some other family with another coat of spray paint. It wasn't until much later that the word sheey was in my mind associated with Jews. I think the Jews in Detroit were often the buyers o the scrap metal and cloth. I had several clients who were in that business and many were Jewish.

Charitart said...

I distinctly remember my Grandmother using the term "Sheeny" but in reference to someone's house. I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin. My Mother said she grew up hearing the term in the 50s & 60s too. My Mom and I have often talked about this word, and how we were not totally sure what it meant, but it is in our family's vocabulary. All we know is that she always used it in reference to a run down house, or family that had a lot of junk in their yard. She would say something like "Pick up those toys, you don't want this place to look like the sheeny house do you?" I actually thought it was someone's last name, until I started looking up the term. I am pretty sure her comment had nothing to do with a reference to Jewish people, as she was not like that. I am positive, now that I read this, it is in reference to a garbage picker. That would make sense. Thanks to all for helping clarify this long time mystery for me. Now that she is gone, I thought I would never understand the term until I stumbled upon this site. :)

KenMo said...

I came to this blog after reading a reference to the "Sheeny Man" on the Detroit Memories discussion group on Yahoo and then doing a Google search for the term. I grew up on Concord a few blocks south of 8 Mile Rd. in the late '40s, 50s and 60s. (It took me a long time to grow up, assuming i really did.) If I ever saw the Sheeny Man, I don't remember the experience, but I remember talk about him and understood that he drove a cart up the alley collecting junk that could be re-used. I remember there was something a bit scary about him but had no idea of his ethnic background. Incidentally this is the first time I've seen the term spelled out and back then I probably would have spelled it "sheenee" or something like that.

Anonymous said...

My mother and grandmother always threatened to "give us to the sheeny man" when my sister, or cousins, and I were misbehaving. I never knew exactly what a sheeny man was, but the thought of being given away to him was terrifying.

John Martin said...

I grew up in Toronto Canada and lived next door to last existing blacksmith shop owned by Mr.frank Sherley seen the Sheeny man and the breadman and milkman on a daily basis. Our sheeny man's name was Old Gula...he'd buy rags, paper, and metals. Many days were spent riding on the back of his carriage. I was told as a kid that Sheeny or Shinney was the name given because of the Sheen on his clothes caused by oils and dirt, because he always wore the same clothing...just another slant on the meaning of Sheeny. But it sure does bring back some good memories...Thanx

jm said...

Re Bill Oliver's post above: I'm not familiar with the Ollie Kazinski version, but my dad, who grew up in Cleveland, used to sing that song this way 60 years ago:
(First and last lines strictly phonetic, have no idea what they mean)
Eenda buggada belinda
Sheeny vasha da vinda
Da vinda broke
Sheeny got soak
Eenda buggada belinda
My sister and I have spent years trying to decipher those phonetics. Have only recently learned that in Old Prague there's a neighborhood that evidently used to be known as Belinda; maybe some connection there. Meanwhile, also only recently made the apparent Sheeny connection; growing up, we always figured that the window washer was a girl named Jeannie.
Regards/ J. Maeder

Anonymous said...

First let me say "What a great blog". Thanks.

Yesterday, I heard my grandson threaten to give my gr-grand-daughter to the "sheeny-man" if she didn't finish her dinner. Of course, she feigned terror, but finished eating. Then we entered a discussion of what the term actually meant. The "sheeny-man" was something my mother threatened me with, and I in turn used on my children, and so on. I thought it an expression my mom had acquired growing up in southern Indiana. As I tend to "Google" everything, I decided to give it a shot and see exactly what a "sheeny" was.

I knew it referred to a "junk-man/tinker" but not that it seems to have originated in the Detroit area. We moved to Detroit in 1945, 4114 Cass Ave., to be exact, and spent the ensuing 65 yrs. in the Metro area, half of that in Detroit proper. This blog brought back a lot of memories of the "old days". I remember playing in the alley, following the junk collectors, trying to beg a ride on the wagons, or get close enough to pat the horse; not that I was "allowed" to do any of the above.

But, in no way did I associate "sheeny" with any ethnic group. To me, it was just a generic term for a "junk collector".

Thank you all for the enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

I remember a sheeny man going up and down Harper in Fraser pulling a red wooden cart. This was in the 60's when I walked to school to Frost Elementary on 13 mile road. Kids threw rocks at him, which I thought was wrong. He picked up junk.

Anonymous said...

I loved your definition of sheeney man. I grew up on Garland Ave in Detroit and well remember the sheeney man coming down the alley; driving a horse and buggy picking up whatever was available. It is fascinating that entering sheeney man resulted in so many Detroit references.....

Sharon said...

I grew up in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s and I remember my grandparents and my mom talking about the sheeny man. When I room was filled with to much stuff or was too messy they would always say "this place looks like a sheeny shop." My great-grandfather on my mother's side was a sheeny man. I still have a large porcelain pitcher with a dragon handle that he brought home to my great-grandmother. He eventually got into buying and selling used furniture and my great-grandmother furnished most of her house from his finds. He would have loved Storage Wars and American Pickers!

Dan Kuchars said...

Thanks for the blog. I grew up in Hamtramck, Michigan. My friends thought I was making things up when I referred to recycling as the Sheeney men of today. I remember looking forward to weekly visit by this person with a horse drawn carriage. He performed a service in taking our trash and actually paid a small amount for it. Thanks again for validating my memories.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Detroit as well. My mother always threatened to give us kids to the sheeny lady when we misbehaved. Admittedly, I threaten my kids with the sheeny lady too. Never realized it was a Detroit thing. Thanks for sharing!

glv said...

Re Bill Oliver and JM posts, I recall my grandfather singing (circa mid-1950s:

Icky Bicky Belinda
Sheeny washed the winda
Winda got broke
Sheeny got soak
Icky Bicky Belinda

This in rather racist southern Illinois, in a small town with zero blacks and one (I think) Jew. I've wondered about the origin and whether this might be a children's rhyme for jump rope or something similar.

Suzie Queue said...

Wow, what a wonderful find! I have just begun my memoirs and wanted to talk about how when I was a kid in Indianapolis, IN, we had trash pickup from a horse-drawn cart. He would go up the alleys and pick up whatever we didn't burn in our backyard incinerator can. I would run out and pet the horse. He was a black man and the horse wore a floppy hat on his head to shade his face. The man sometimes would stop and put an oat filled bag around his muzzle as we visited. I was never afraid of him. Whenever I tell this story, no one believes me. People today can't imagine that in the 1950's many folks lived no differently than the 1930's. People kept things and did things the same as their parents and grandparents and we were all poor from coming out of WWII. Mother would wrap the garbage in newspapers and tie it up neatly with string because placing in the garbage can.

Anonymous said...

Our sheeny man in Port Huron, MI, 50 miles north of Detroit, was a tinker who fixed dented and broken pots and pans in the '40s and '50s. He sharpened knives and scissors on his horse-drawn cart and he took our newspapers and magazines. I always thought he was a hardworking Italian. There was no negative connotation to the term.

Anonymous said...

Am not sure "Sheeny" is just a Detroit thing. Visiting with an eighty year old friend who grew up in Minneapolis he threw out this moniker out of the blue. He described much like the Detroit version.

Anonymous said...

Hi",
I just came across the word "sheeny" as I'm reading Ulysses by J. Joyce (yeah, don't ask). I love your blog stories. In the novel the word is clearly used as a slur, referring to one of the main characters, Leopoldo Bloom, who is Jewish.
So probably the term traveled to America with Irish immigrants?

Bryan Whipple said...

At age 73, I forget what happened last week, but recall things from childhood. While trying to do some serious work this morning, the phrase "sheeny wagon" popped into my head, prompted by God-knows-what, but remembered from growing up in inner-city Detroit, 1946-1950 or so. I entered the term and found this blog. In my neighborhood (Pattengill School area), we had alleys frequented by sheeny men and sheeny wagons, horse-drawn, of course, even in Motown. I can perhaps lend a clue as to where the name "sheeny" comes from. I suspect that it is cognate with the German word "schoene" meaning fair, lovely, etc....... the verb form "schoenen" has, among its many shades of meaning "to clean up." Probably "Schoenemann" or something close to it is Yiddish for "cleaner" or "pick-up man."

Anonymous said...

Grew up (1950's) in an Italian/Polish neighborhood on a street off McNichols between Davison and Jos Campau (near the original Shields bar). Went to St. Augustine. Remember the Sheeny man coming down the alley in a horse drawn wagon. He always blew a horn when he was coming down the alley to let people know. Anyone remember Dexter's, the Bazaar, George & Mary's Bar, Sunnyside Bakery, Ned Phillips pool hall or Silversteins?

The French Boy said...

I failed to grow up after my birth on Richton Street in Highland Park in 1939 and then the following 27 years at 573 Drexel Avenue on Detroit's lower east side. I've been held to the discussion about the sheeniemen of that era. I read all the entries but waited to add my own response. My brain was/is going wild with pleasant nostalgia. First, with respect to the sheenies, my memory is of their appearance in the alley only on Saturdays. Joe the Sheeniemen ruled the alleys in our neighborhood along with his trusty stallion, Jake. My two brothers and I solicited the cleaning of our neighbors' basements and garages on Saturday mornings. We had to be done by noon as we would then sell what we removed in the line of newspaper, metal scraps, and other salvageable scraps to Joe and we would normally hear his tin horn right around noon. As time went on we felt that Joe was short changing us with the inaccuracy of his scale. As the statute of limitations has run out and Joe has probably passed away, I can tell you that my brothers and I combatted this unscrupulous deed with our own manner of equalizing the playing field. While two of us kept Joe busy with his scale on the back of the wagon, the third brother was stealing off the front of the wagon and then bringing the spoils to the back to be weighed. Now, we had to act fast as we wanted to go to the show and get there in time for the matinee at the Time, Lakewood, or Cinderella shows. The Admission to The Time, at Jefferson and Lenox, was 9 cents. It cost 15 cents to go to the Lakewood at Jefferson and Lakewood. The Cinderella, Jefferson and Coplin,had carpeting and nicer appointments but it cost a whopping 25 cents. The Hickory Log barbecue was at Jefferson and Lakeview and the huge barbecue was visible through huge windows on the corner of the building. Man, if I ever got rich I was going to take my Mom there for dinner some day.
Back to the sheeniemen,
Where did they come from and where did they go at the end of their rounds? I think their garage was at Orleans and Canfield. Correct me if I'm wrong.
There was another cleaning force in Detroit at that time. Those were the street cleaners in downtown Detroit. They had what amounted to a 55 gallon tub on large wheels, maybe 36 inches diameter, a pushbroom, and shovel. They would leave their quarters at Larned and Russell every morning, clean the streets, and return in the afternoon. I believe their garage was what was once a firehouse, perhaps Ladder 2. I'm going to look that up to be sure unless you can correct me on that. I type slowly and I'm not sure about how rapidly you can read so I'll stop now but can get back with memories of McNichols and of Silversteins.

Jim Sitko said...

I loved the blog on the "sheeny man" it brings back many memories of my days growing up in industrial and Polish Detroit. When I was 6 years old my older brother, he was 8, and I would grab our "Red Ryder" wagon and head over to the local Desoto plant a few blocks away. We'd crawl under the fence going up and down the rail sidings looking for rail spikes that had been discarded and thrown to the side. We'd load the wagon and wait for the weekly trip by the "sheeny man" blowing his high pitched horn blocks away. You couldn't miss the sound. We made decent money, at least decent enough to get buy some Pepsi and pretzels for dunking at the local grocery story. It was a good life and the beginning of a wonderful and productive life in auto engineering.