Oh wow, this is a treasure: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 – 1940.*
There are 417 stories in the New York City collection. In one titled Brooklyn Streets the worker (that’s how the WPA writers were cited) William Wood describes The Hundski Pickers he heard many tell about:
The Hundski Pickers were a strange occupational group whose scattered membership plied their business in Brooklyn during the early years of the present century. Their calling was definitely unconnected with the harvest fields; nor was it related with the garnering of some strange genus of flora. In terms of today, it cannot be regarded as having been either an alluring or a romantic profession. It is not believed to have been especially lucrative. Admittedly odoriferous, the Hundski Pickers diffused a redolence in nowise suggestive of the autumn woods; and this is one of the reasons that persons of delicate sensitivity avoided rather than courted their society.
Wood goes on to explain that Hundski Pickers collected dog droppings to sell to a “company who manufactured pills and powders”. Hmm? Wood’s descriptions of German Street Bands and a prosyletizing fruit peddler are just as rich.
*Thanks to Ann Hepperman for engaging my curiousity!