When I was a very young kid, about three or four years old, I stayed with my widowed, Italian immigrant grandmother, on many occasions. There was a rag picker that pushed a cart, by hand, up the street. He had a sing-song chant of "cash paid for rags". This fellow was scary to me and I ran to my grandmother, whining about the rag picker and that I was afraid of him. She told me not to worry. If he bothered me she'd cut his ears off! (making a motion as if to slice off an appendage). That placated my young sensibilities and I was never afraid of the rag man again. Nanu would take care of it!
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