CONNEAUT, Ohio - John Myers grinned as the cool breeze rolled across Lake Erie and refreshed his face.
It was 9 a.m. and he'd already walked from his home to the lakefront, pulling a small grocery cart behind him. The cart held his ball cap, a wad of plastic shopping bags and a few smashed aluminum cans that Myers planned to sell to the scrap yard. At this rate, he was making about 10 cents a mile.
He shuffled from trash can to trash can at the public dock and marina, hopeful that under each lid would be a cache of cans left behind by soda-guzzling teens or beer-sucking fishermen. No such luck this morning; John said it looked like the refuse truck had beaten him to it.
Undaunted by the small take, Myers headed toward Conneaut Township Park, where the pickings are almost always better. Collecting is also good on the sandbar, where people like to drink and leave behind another man's treasure. And then there are the festivals -- that's when Myers can really clean up.
Myers, 80, calls himself a junker. He's full time, year-around. He starts from his home around 7:30 a.m. and spends 8 hours or more a day walking the streets and lakefront of Conneaut in search of working man's silver.
Retired from Brown Memorial Hospital's laundry department, Myers is a Conneaut fixture; just about every resident knows who he is, even if not by name. Folks appreciative of his recycling mission assist him as they can.
"These are brand-new shoes that were given to me," Myers said, proudly showing off his tan sneakers. "A fella said to me, `What size do you wear?' I said `9.' He had them in a box and gave them to me, brand new!"
There was a time Myers used a wheelbarrow to transport his booty to the scrap yard, more than a mile from his house on the east side of town. When a friend saw Myers' moil, he arranged to have a wagon built just for the task.
"Red Fuller had it custom built," Myers said. "He was resting in bed and got to thinking `that's a lot of work with those wheelbarrows, so I'll make his life a little easier."'
When the wagon, which is 7 1/2-feet long, is filled with enough scrap to make the trip worth his trouble, Myers pulls it across a bridge to the scrap yard.
"I made $49.50 one time, and $52 another, with cans and metal together," Myers said proudly.
He figures that each can is worth about 2 cents. But for this octogenarian, the walking and socialization offered by his pastime are priceless.
"I got to keep active. I got arthritis from my head to my toe. If I just laid around, that wouldn't be a good thing to do," he said with a grin.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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