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Long gone are the days when men in vans would come round the housing schemes to sell their wares or to collect unwanted goods. Yes we still get ice-cream vans but we never get the rag man or grocer only, or a man selling only rolls. The ice-cream vans carry as much as they can hold from bakeries to vegetables, which now takes precedence over the sweets and the ice-cream they originally set out to sell in days gone by.
Years ago the roll man would come around in the evening with an old banger of a van (before M.O.Ts.)and sell his wares allowing us to have fresh rolls first thing in the morning without having to leave the house early to go and fetch them.
Another beat up old van was used by the rag man who went from street to street blowing a bugle and shouting "toys for rags" "toys for rags" then blowing the bugle again prompting the young children to ask their parents for any old clothes that was ready to be thrown out. A large toy, like a train or something similar would be in view at the far end of the van among a few other small toys to entice us further, and lead us to believe that one of these worthwhile playthings would be returned in exchange for the rags. Not so,because every time the rags were handed over a balloon was handed back and on asking about the more desirable toys was told that we never had enough rags to warrant one of these. This only made us more determined to produce enough rags on his next visit but, the same performance occurred regardless of the amount, or quality of rags we handed over. The same excuses like "that's synthetic; its wool we want" or "NAH! you'll need a lot more rags than that for one of these toys" and then the customary balloon was handed over once again. It never deterred us though and every time the bugle was sounded, we would once again go through the same procedure in the hope of receiving that elusive toy, but once again the rag man would carry on to the next street having handed out balloons only, with the toys still displayed at the back of the considerable bundle of rags he had by now accumulated from this con.