100th COLUMN

By Ken Martin

MILESTONE: CV Side Trips has reached a milestone. This is my 100th column for the Forum. The first one was published on November 20, 2002. I’ve covered a variety of subjects and I hope you have enjoyed reading about them as much as I have enjoyed writing about them. It has been a nice “trip”.

RECYCLING ISN’T NEW: Some people just don’t seem to get their rightful place in history. One such person is the “Rags! Bottles! Sacks!” man. “The what man?!” is the usual retort when he is mentioned. Read on.

When I was a young boy, before I even started school (in 1935), there were people that came into our neighborhood that really intrigued us little kids. They seemingly came from nowhere and left to the same place, but while they were there, they had our attention. One of these was the “Rags! Bottles! Sacks!” man.

Patty and I were having breakfast with a group of friends last week when the subject of the “Rags! Bottles! Sacks!” man came up somehow. I remember him from the neighborhood in Albany where I lived at the time, but some others remembered similar people in East Oakland where they were growing up. I suppose they showed up in other neighborhoods so there must have been more than one of them.

The RBS man (I’ll use that abbreviation for convenience) would come down the street shouting “Rags! Bottles! Sacks!” The residents would give him those items plus old newspapers, scrap metal, cardboard, and whatever else he would accept. I guess he was a sort of early day recycler and sold this stuff to places that could process it and he apparently made some kind of a living from this activity.

The first RBS man that I remember came down the street on a horse-drawn wagon. His basic appearance was about that of a homeless person but, sitting up on his wagon, he looked like he was important. Probably either this, or the fact that he had a horse, attracted us little ones. We would follow him up the street until he got too far from our homes for us to continue. Later on he acquired a dump truck but that didn’t diminish his status with us and he drove slowly enough that we could still follow him.

I have found that most people that I talk to don’t know about the RBS man, never saw one, or don’t remember him. Rumor has it that Henry J. Kaiser was once an RBS man. I just thought you’d like to know this.

JUST DROP IN: Everybody loves a freebie, right? Here’s one for you that sounds pretty good. On Saturday and Sunday, April 21 & 22, the Southern Alameda Music Teachers Association is presenting piano recitals at the CV Performing Arts Center (19501 Redwood Road) at 11:00 AM. Here’s the best part: Tickets are free at the door!! If the Southern Alameda Music Teachers are anywhere near as good as our CV music teachers this should be a real treat. It sounds like a good way to spend a great April afternoon