The scissors that Tony Moraes sharpens cut both ways but so, unfortunately, does the war. Tony is a young man with a ready smile and an idea, the latter born of the war and liable to be killed by it, which is an unhappy situation.

The death several years ago of Allen Kirk, who had been keeping Pittsfield’s shears sharp for many a year, left a lot of barbers, tailors and other scissors wielders in a quandary. Among them was Frank Scago, who now is about to swap his job at Carmelo Lopresti’s barber shop at 255 North Street for one with Uncle Sam’s Army. Mr. Scago shared his problem with his brother-in-law, Tony Moraes, and in practically no time at all, the two were experimenting with methods of scissors sharpening.

Out of that original get-together has come the City Sharpening Service, 31 Summit Avenue, Antone Moraes, proprietor. Until early last winter, Tony did his sharpening in his shop at home, but when the steel shortage became acute, Tony had his idea, to wit: What with steel being commandeered by the government, people would have to sharpen their old knives and shears instead of getting new ones. And sharpeners who come right to the door do more business than sharpeners who wait for the world to wear a path to their door.

So Tony got an old station wagon and set out to convert it into a shop on wheels. He bought a one-cylinder gasoline engine and plunked it down in the station wagon just south of the tailboard. Down each side he installed pulley shafts and on narrow benches above the shafts bolted his grinding wheels and vises. So now he’s all ready to go. But while the war brought the steel shortage which should — and has — boosted Tony’s business, the war also has brought a little situation called the tire shortage — not to mention the gasoline shortage. For the moment, Tony doesn’t think he’ll toss up his night job on the platform at the McCarthy Freight System. But he’d like to make a career out of his shop on wheels if he can figure out how to take advantage of one kind of shortage while avoiding a couple of others.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989. She can be reached at