life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage


All those horses...

by Bonnie (Hazen) Nelson

reprinted from Issue #15, may 2001

Anyone remember the Sheeny Man? — a rather portly gentleman, but a vital part of Olde Walkerville’s past. For extra money, the neighbourhood kids would collect newspapers and bottles, bundle the stuff up, and then on Saturday morning we would await the Sheeny Man.

His whistle was our signal to be in the alley ready with our collection, in the hopes that he would buy from us. Sure enough, he was usually more that happy to pay us nickels and dimes for everything.

He was quite the character, with his huge old wooden wagon filled to the brim with all the back-alley cast-offs. His big old plodding horse would look for a cut-up apple when he saw us. I think I was there more for him than the money.

Another horse-drawn wonder was the milk wagon. I can still hear the glass milk bottles in that wire basket making a racket every other morning, and my jumping out of bed because that was my alarm clock to get ready for school. And I remember the aluminum tumblers of cottage cheese and once in a while chocolate milk for a treat, plus the unspeakable butter milk, which to this day I cannot stomach.

And then there was the ice wagon. On those hot Walkerville summer days, it was the gathering place for all the neighbourhood kids.

We watched while the ice man grabbed a big block of ice, slung it over his shoulder and headed towards our house– he would be in and out of our kitchen in a flash. Then all the kids would clamour for a hand full of ice chips.

I remember the day our old ice box left and the big white fridge arrived and the wonder of the ice cube trays entered our life. We were, however, sad to see the end of the ice man.

I have a collecter’s plate here at my B&B, (see inset), depicting an old horse-drawn ice wagon with children gathered round. When I look at it, I always smile and think back to the good old days, and remember when.

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