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The Sheeny

Keep it Real Wednesday

The “Sheeny’

July 15, 2020

Rosemary’s recollection of her past is flooded with stories.  What is fascinating to me is that she finds precious cracks and crevices in her memory and shares stories that I have never heard.  She never ceases to amaze me.

I am grateful for this blog to document them all.

Today’s story was quite interesting to me.

Bridget Cobain and Rosemary were close school friends and neighbors in the Irish Community growing up in Cleveland.   Rosemary said Bridget had a flair for fashion and would always wear very bright clothing with large prints on the fabric – such as flowers and pineapples.  It was sort of her signature style.  Everyone loved Bridgett’s sense of freedom in her clothing.  Plus, Rosemary added Bridget was shapely enough to pull off any style.  She said she had a bosom of envy with all the girls.

Well one day in the 1940’s, Bridget and Rosemary were in the kitchen of Bridgett’s house and they heard “the Sheeny” going through the alley.

What is “The Sheeny”?  That was exactly my question to Rosemary.

“The Sheeny” was the “Rag man” who would use a horse drawn carriage and collect old rags and newspapers through the alley.  The people would hear the “Sheeny” in the alley and run out and put their rags and newspapers in his carriage.  The “rag men” was one of many innovative ways people tried to earn a living in the middle of the depression. 

Back to the story….

Bridget ran out into the alley to bring the rags to the Sheeny and was walking alongside his horse petting him when, rumor had it, the horse mistook the vibrant fabric on Bridgett’s blouse for a flower or piece of fruit and bit a big part of her breast.

Rosemary said the Sheeny picked her up off the ground, blood oozing everywhere and rode her to the hospital in the horse drawn carriage amongst all the rags and debris.  They said the Sheeny saved her life.

After that day, Buxom Bridget only had one full breast and no longer wore bright fabric and large prints.

Rosemary did add a final note to the story.  She said Bridget eventually developed breast cancer and passed away from the disease.  What an insult to injury to poor Bridget.

RIP Bridget Cobain.

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Jenna Snyder
Jenna Snyder
2 years ago

Watch out for the Sheeny Man! Particularly in the dark allies of Detroit circa 1950.

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