A nostalgic story of a man who entertained us with adventures and stories.
|The Scrap Man
It was 1952, and we were fighting in Korea. Think war effort. Everyone collected pieces of metal, no matter how small, saved them until the day the "scrap man" came. The USA needed it after all, to make guns and such. Some things never change, eh?
The scrap man would weigh the metal and pay so many "cents" per pound. Any amount was a lot of money to me, but it wasn't the money I enjoyed most although it bought me many a snow cone (thick syrup over ice in a cone, not the cheap stuff like today), thick syrup.. cherry, grape... yum).
Anyway, the scrap man told stories, scary stories, funny stories but always good stories. Children and adults alike sat outside on anything handy and begged for a tale. He almost always accomodated us with a grin at first and, then, serious, even with severe features, thereafter.
He wasn't "much" of a man as my grandmother would say, maybe 5'4" tall, skinny as a chicken's neck, full of energy though, restless, always moving his hands or his head. His skin was florid as though he had a year-round sun burn. He slicked his graying hair back tightly but neatly. Some said he used lard as a hair dressing. I never saw that, but his hair didn't move in the breeze. Someone would bring him a drink, maybe coffee or lemonade, and he would "settle back" for a long tale.
He might give the next episode of his "Jack in the Pits" story or tell us how "Old Blue" came to live 19 adventurous years which was amazing, as Old Blue was a dog. There was "raw headed bloody bones" which scared hell out of me, and, of course, my brother Jimmy got that series down pat. Or maybe "Jack the Ripples." That's a prison story. For some reason, I was always a sucker for a prison story.
Whatever story he told, it was fascinating. When it was over, he would jump up and start moving again as though the only time he had rest and peace was during his story telling. He gathered up his scale and his metal and "hauled ass" as Uncle Bill would say. The children would wave and yell "bye scrap man, bye scrap man" until he was out of sight.
I never knew his name, but I remember every story. I wonder if scrap man is gone? I'm 63 years old so, if he's living, he would be near 100 anyway. I hope he is. Either way, his stories live on... in me.