Henry Senyak is a retired communications and electrical contractor and lifelong resident of Cleveland. He served as past President and Board officer with the Tremont West Development Corporation, and continues his community engagement in the Tremont and Near West Side neighborhoods. He is currently Chairperson of Lincoln Heights Block Club. He’s also an avid beer can collector.
Bruce: When did you start collecting beer cans?
Henry: I started collecting when I was 10 years old. My dad and uncles would get me beer cans when we went on road trips. We’d check the dumpsters at rest areas for empty beer cans. I stopped collecting when I turned 18 and went back to collecting in1996. I bought an inventory of beer cans from a dealer in Fairlawn who lived in a small little bungalow house with his wife. She wanted him to sell his entire inventory. He owned a business called B&B Sales, one of the biggest beer can selling outfits in the country back in the 70’s and 80’s. I ran into him at the Hartville Flea Market. I started to buy his inventory in 1998 then he passed away a year later. It took me about forty-five trips with my van to go to Fairlawn and bring his inventory back to Cleveland. I’ve sold a lot of it since then on eBay in early 2000. I supplement my personal collection by buying and trading with other collectors across the country.
Bruce: How many cans were in his inventory?
Henry: Over 50,000 beer cans. I paid about $2,600. A lot of people might say, ‘you got a bunch of junk here’ which collectors might agree with but everybody has junk. If they only knew that I sold and traded some from his inventory to build my personal collection, they’d understand. My personal collection is now more than 45,000 cans and I still have about 40,000 duplicates from his inventory available to trade.
I worried about visiting my parents for the Memorial Day weekend because of COVID19. I hadn’t seen them since last December. They live in northeastern Pennsylvania. We weighed the risks, watched the weather forecast carefully so any visit would remain strictly outdoors. I rented a hotel for two nights nearby in a renovated 1930s train station. A few days before driving the seven hours east to visit, I still had my doubts. I was uncomfortable knowing that I might have been exposed to the virus and not know it. Both my parents are 89-years old and their health is what you might expect at that age.
I phoned dad to ask him what he thought.
“I have old A.G.E,” he said with humor uniquely his own. “Whatever you decide is fine.”
This is not the typical story I have penned about rising property taxes or real estate developers seeking variances for new apartment buildings. This is not about potholes or bicycle lanes, protests at City Hall, the Green Party or Democratic Party meetings. This is not a story about tax abatement policies. This is a story about my 89-year-old parents.
Walter and Evelyn live about 400 miles east of Cleveland along Interstate 80. To get to where they live, you have to drive past the Plaza Restaurant at the Emlenton Truck Plaza off Exit 42 of Interstate 80 in Venango County where you’ll find America’s Worst Apple Pie. The menu lists two choices; regular, with a plain crust; and Dutch, with cinnamon and brown sugar on top. The deep dish pie is thick with fresh apples and a flaky crust. I’ve tried them both but that’s another story.
With the COVID-19 pandemic in full force, Walter and Evelyn are amongst the most vulnerable age group according to every scientific and health expert in the world. The hell with what Trump thinks.
Living so many miles from them is difficult. I can’t easily drive to their house and wave at them. I can’t leave food for them. Luckily, my brother lives close enough to check in on them daily. Many families are in a similar situation.
Don Crane, IKORCC Director of Ohio Millwright Local 1090, explains his organization’s TAPPIN Picket Line with comments from the Mutt Hutt and Sustainable Community Associates; TremonsterTV report by Bruce Checefsky