A).- The "Garafeiro" - bottle man - went down the street announcing his
presence by repeatedly singing "Ooooo Garafeeeiro". I guess we
already had recycling in Rio in those days as he would buy up all the
old bottles and newspapers. In our household the sale of these items
were negotiated by the maids who were then permitted to keep the
proceeds of the sale. This guaranteed the best price and gave the maids
an additional - be it small - source of income. Newspapers were
weighed on a hand-held scale and there was little haggling; however
each and every bottle was a source for intensive haggling - by size,
color, manufacturer, etc. These were then loaded on a pushcart and
carried away.
B).- The "Soldador" - the plumber or better the solderer. He carried two
containers swung over his shoulders: one carried the tools of the trade
and supplies while the other held a small metal can with glowing coal
embers. His goal was to repair broken cooking utensils, and re-apply
broken handles. This work was performed in an exemplary manner on
the sidewalk in front of the house.
C).- The "Vassoureiro" - the equivalent of the Fuller Brush Man (my
guess is that the current generation has no idea what the Fuller Brush
man represented to the United States), except that he carried his whole
inventory slung over his back - anything from a 10 foot duster to get at
ceiling cobwebs to the smallest most useless house brush. He was a
sight to behold as he ambled down the street hawking his wares and a
ten foot duster sticking up!
D).- The "Leiteiro" - or milkman. He came to the house everyday
pushing a cart which held a large white tank. My guess is that such a
tank could hold about 500 liters, which he dispensed from a tap at the
bottom of the vat into a graduated container. Its contents were then
poured over into one of our pots which were taken inside to
immediately boil the milk. It was said that for every liter of milk which
entered the city, two liters were sold - through the gentle use of water,
sugar, salt, etc.
E).- The iceman or "Geleiro" was a daily necessity as we did not have
an electric refrigerator until 1936. Instead we had a large brown
insulated ice chest with three doors on it. Each day the geleiro would
enter the house and refill the top compartment in the ice-box. A drip
pan at the bottom collected the water from the melting ice which was
then funneled to a small drain in the kitchen floor.
F).- You could always tell the "Peixeiro" was coming by the quantity of
cats which trailed him down the road. He had a long heavy pole draped
over his shoulders and at each end hung a basket containing a variety
of fish which had just been caught by the net fishermen on the beach
in Copacabana or Ipanema. The lid of each basket was made of wood
and served as a chopping block. He would clean and filet the fish in
the street while the cats fought and gorged on the leftovers.
G).- The "Padeiro" carried the lightest load as he pushed a small box
shaped cart along the street with various types of fresh bread and
cookies baked at the local bakery. The more advanced padeiros had
three wheel bicycles with the big box in front over the axel. They
announced their presence by tooting their hand air-horn.
H).- One peddler never used his voice to advertise his coming. Instead
the high pitched siren-like wailing produced by passing a special block
over a fast spinning leather belt told everyone that the "Amolador" was
in the neighborhood. The leather belt was wound around a big
flywheel while at the other end was a fast spinning emery stone. He
honed knives, scissors, machetes, axes - anything that needed a sharp
edge on it.
I).- And we had the "Mata Mosquito" - the mosquito killer! At the turn
of the century Rio had become a city besieged by mosquitoes and
consequently malaria. So the city started out on a dual program to
eradicate this plague: build drainage canals to drain the many swamps
which surrounded the city, and secondly to hire civil servants who
patrolled streets and individual houses searching for places where
mosquitoes might be depositing their larvae. They - the civil servants,
not the mosquitoes! - carried a little yellow flag which was placed on
the front gate of the house which was being inspected. They would
look for standing water or open drains and proceed to squirt oil on
such puddles. You might say the flag was his identification tag - but I
never knew the real reason for this symbol. And, no one would ever
have dreamed of not permitting the mata-mosquito access into your
J). - Late in the afternoon you might also run into the fellow selling
"Amendoim" - Peanuts. This was normally a six to ten year old who
carried a container with some burning embers which kept the freshly
roasted peanuts warm, which were carefully wrapped in yellow, green
or pink paper in the shape of long narrow cones.
K).- And, a feature which probably best describes the general
atmosphere in Rio at that time. As kids we would go to the beach.
Come around 11:00 AM we would get hungry and when the local
"Good Humor" man appeared on the beach (carrying the home made
ice-cream in an ice chest on his head) we would order an ice cream.
But as we did not carry any money we would give him our address (no
signatures! No credit cards!) and in the afternoon after he had sold out
his supply he would proceed to make the rounds in the neighborhood
to collect what was due him!
L).- Finally - Spectacular Advertising which was outlawed in the late
thirties. Sunday morning at around 11:00 the eyes of all beach goers
along Copacabana beach would start to search the sky for the
appearance of an old twin-decker airplane. Its appearance would bring
the kids to full excitement. At a far distance white confetti seemed to
descend in its wake! The race was on to establish what might become
the most favored place on the beach. As the plane approached at an
altitude of about 100 meters the pilot lifted a small box out of the open
cockpit and released it: an attached ripcord opened the box, and
suddenly the sky was filled with 50 little white paper parachutes. From
each parachute dangled a small item. I specifically remember two
items which came floating down from the sky to the bathers on the
beach: a small round tin (about 1-1/2" in diameter) containing three
"Pastilhas Valda", and a tiny miniature "Kolynos" toothpaste
containing about enough paste for one brushing. But, the idea was to
grab as many as you could. As the plane traveled from Leme to Posto 6
the pilot might drop 10 boxes of material during his sweep. As long as
the beach was not full there was plenty to go around, but once the
beaches got more crowded people running to catch a parachute
trampled on others and fights developed: net result - this type of
spectacular advertising was outlawed! It was fun while it lasted.


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