METALLIC MEMORIES

by Ann Angel Eberhardt

There once was a time when the word “metal” called to mind a chemical element, such as iron, aluminum, or tin, and not the loud, fast-paced music of distorted electric guitars. Here are two stories about the chemical kind of metal that played a part in my memories of 1950s Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. We welcome your additions or corrections.


The Tin Shop

The Tin Man in the "Wizard of Oz." Source: Pixabay.

The Tin Man in the “Wizard of Oz.” Source: Pixabay.

One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz, starring those memorable characters that Dorothy met as she tried to find her way home to Kansas from the Land of Oz. One of those, the Tin Man, would remind me of a tin shop that was located in the alley behind my childhood home in Sharpsville. It’s strange how the mind can connect two entirely different subjects by the presence of one thing in common. In this case, tin.

Between our house on Second Street and the Casino, there was Y-shaped cinder alley where we kids sometimes played baseball. One leg of the alley led to Main Street and the other to North Third Street. The tin shop I remember was a black wooden two-story building among several similar outbuildings, dark and mysterious as to their use, although I recall that one of them had a large sliding door and was used as a garage.

Peering through the shop’s grimy windows we could see cobwebs strung about the machinery and dusty piles of tin things. My brother Mike remembers that “all kinds of items were made there that were outdated such as candle molds. I guess that’s why they went out of business. I only remember one time I saw people working the shop. The rest of the time the place was locked up.”

Angel family dog in back yard with alley buildings in background, May 1954.

Angel family dog in backyard of Second Strreet home; alley buildings in background, May 1954.

(Mike has a much keener mind than I do about our past. He also recalls another tin shop “down from Crick’s Drug Store, I think that was on Pierce Avenue. That shop was well known for making the long spouted oil cans used to reach oil fittings on locomotives.” )

The existence of the tin shop in the alley was further confirmed by Donna DeJulia: “I lived directly across the street from the tin shop on 27 North Third Street. Mom said that tin shop used to be a livery stable at one time….”

Donna submitted a photo of the tin shop to the familyoldphotos website and wrote that the tin shop was owned by a Mr. Clark. “His son was in the Breed motorcycle club [which] taught my older brother to throw knives.” It was eventually torn down by the owner of Cattron Communications, a company that, in the 1970s, had its home office in what was once the Angel family home and printshop on Second Street.

Google Maps Street View shows that the space is now cleared of most of the old buildings and houses and completely paved over. The place looks tidy now but lacks the character it had in the old days. Maybe the tin shop still sticks in my imagination so many years later because it was a silent relic of an even more distant past. Or maybe because the Tin Man would have been at home in that place during its heyday.

– Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ
– Mike Angel (SHS 1960), London, KY
Donna DeJulia (SHS 1960)


Collecting Scrap Metal

Source: Pinterest.com

Source: Pinterest.com

Scrap yards or junkyards of old now have the more respectable name of “recycling centers,” but they achieve the same useful purpose of providing a place to properly dispose of unwanted metal material, such as cars, household appliances, and other products, large and small. Some of us kids would go about town collecting smaller metal items with the goal of turning our finds into the local scrap yard for some spending money.

It was like a treasure hunt as we searched for metal items in fields, along roads, or in neighbors’ trashbins. With Dad’s help, we would then load up the family’s 1949 Ford pick-up truck with our collection, mostly cans, tubing, wires, and an assortment of unidentified pieces of metal. We’d pull into the yard and onto a scale that weighed the truck and its contents. After the truck was emptied it was driven onto the scale again to determine the weight of the metal. Then the best part came when the employee would pay us in cash for our delivery. According to my brother Mike,

Magnet souvenir from J.r. Goldberg Scrap Yard., Sharon, PA, c. 1950s.

Magnet souvenir from J.r. Goldberg Scrap Yard., Sharon, PA, c. 1950s.

[S]crap metal collecting was one of my ways of making extra money. Every time I found a piece of metal I would add it to my stash until the pile was big enough to take to the scrap yard, usually J. B. Goldberg Co. in Sharon. Usually, Dad would drive me there. Incidentally, in front of me as I’m typing this e-mail is a magnet the company gave out as advertising items. The engraving on the magnet depicts, “J.B. Goldberg Co. Sharon, PA -Diamond 7-7390 – Scrap Iron & Metal.” I’ve had the magnet about 60 years now.

Irene Caldwell O’Neill also recalls that “Jack [my brother] and I used to save every piece of scrap metal we could find and take it in our wagon to the scrap yard where it was weighed and we collected our cash.”

The junkyards, then and now, use the scrap metal to re-make metal – a process which is more cost-effective than producing new metals. In the 1950s we kids didn’t think about this aspect of junkyards or that they benefited the environment in the long run. We just enjoyed the treasure hunt and the little bit of money we earned for our efforts.

– Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ
– Mike Angel (SHS 1960), London, KY

– Irene Caldwell O’Neill (SHS 1960), Escondido, CA – April 2012


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