The "Rag Man" 

He'd ride his horse drawn wagon up and down the streets of Bridgeport calling out, "Hey---rags" and would pay you for your old rags, paper, and scrap metal, all of which went into his wagon.

Here is his story: 

His real name was Hyman Charmitz, shown here in the photo with his horse "Bob" sometime  in the late 1940s. Hyman Charmitz lived at 270 Nichols Street, in Bridgeport, across the street from Franklin School. Hyman Charmitz lived on the second floor of that house, and a daughter and his son-in-law, Sol Diamond, and their family lived on the first floor. An interesting side note: Hyman's son-in-law, Sol Diamond, sold fruit and vegetables from a truck he drove around the streets of Bridgeport. Thus, many Bridgeporter's might remember Sol Diamond as the "Vegetable Man" or as "Sal" (which the majority of his customers called him, because they did not know his real name.) The back yard at the Nichols Street home held a horse barn, which was used for "Bob", as well as a garage for the vegetable truck used by Sol Diamond. 

The following comes from our East-Enders' Alumni member Gary Diamond, the son of Sol Diamond, and the very proud grandson of the "Rag Man": 

        "My grandfather, Hyman Charmitz (photo shown below), died at the age of 70 on March 12, 1951, after having worked hard all of his life. I guess he had a heart attack -- he was lifting something very heavy, passed out, and his horse brought him home. He was slumped over in the wagon, but the horse knew the way home. At he end of the day my grandfather would say "Go home" and the horse would find his way no matter what part of Bridgeport they were in at the time. My mom said he had married at about 18 years of age, and that my grandmother was 25 years-old at the time. Of course, it was an arranged marriage. One of Hyman's daughters, her husband, and six of his grandchildren were killed by the Nazis in the holocaust during World War II. The oldest of the grandchildren was about 13, and the youngest only 2.  

        My father was Sol Diamond, Bridgeport's "Vegetable Man", (photo shown below) but few of his customers knew his last name. In fact, 99% of them called him "Sal".  I saw "Charlie the Bums" picture on the East-Enders' web site. He used to come over to my Dad's vegetable truck and my dad would give him over ripe fruit to eat. In fact, I can remember clearly one time being with my dad as we drove pass "Charlie" who was sitting on someone's steps. My dad stopped and got some tomatoes out of the truck and gave them to him to eat. My Dad had a rough life as a kid growing up in Russia during the Russian revolution. He used to tell us how he went hungry and how it drove him nuts to see someone else go hungry. My own son has recorded my dad's history of his youth in Russia."

When Hyman Charmitz passed away in 1951 there remained only one other "Rag Man" riding the streets of Bridgeport in a horse-drawn wagon. He is thought to have lived on either Davenport Street, or perhaps Beardsley Street, both in the East End. If anyone has any information (name, residence location, etc.) of this last "Rag Man", please send it in to Jim Sullivan. 

Bridgeport's "Rag Man" -  Hyman Charmitz:

Bridgeport's "Vegetable Man" -  Sol "Sal" Diamond, in 1952 (Yellow Mill Village in background):


(Our THANKS to member Gary Diamond for sharing these photos and this story with us!)

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