The Man Behind The Cart 

By B.C. Robinson 

For over 40 years residents of the 19th Ward were familiar with the famous sound of the bells that belonged to Tony Del Ciello’s knife sharpening cart.  When Del Ciello decided to retire to Italy, residents thought they would never hear those bells again.   

All hope was not lost.   

Retired fireman John Carmody decided to buy Del Ciello’s cart and take over the business. Although Carmody says he’s having a ball now, it didn’t start out that way. Del Ciello had reservations. 

“I don’t think this is for you,” Del Ciello told him. Carmody said he was pressing on the stone too much.   

“I had to let the stone do the work.  It had to be nice and easy.” But when it comes to work, Carmody has never done it nice and easy.  He’s always been on the cutting edge. 

After a month of observing and asking questions, Del Ciello allowed Carmody to sharpen a pair of scissors, thus giving him his approval.  But it wasn’t until the Easter weekend when Carmody himself felt he had made the cut.  Both he and his dearest, Aidan O’Conner, thought this was a good time to go to Crescent Park.   

“I thought I would ring the bell a couple of times, maybe get a customer or two.”   

To Carmody’s surprise, the park was having an Easter egg hunt. The children were intrigued by the machine.  

“I placed some of the smaller children on the seat, but the parents just passed me by, until someone said, ‘You’re not the same guy.’ No, he retired and I’m the new owner.” After that, people went home to get their knives.  “I sharpened over 60 knives that day.” 

Since then, Carmody has been busy on Saturdays. “People have been standing in line, waiting for my arrival.”  

You can find Carmody and his rolling cart between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Saturday, rain or shine, at Crescent Park, 108th and Bell Avenue.  

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