"Can you help determine when the term Arabers began to be in common use? Did it originate when someone wrote about Baltimore history and coined the term, or borrowed it to be a blanket term for all the street vendors?"
To clarify: In The American Language H.L. Mencken dates the term, which he spells Araber, to his youth in the 1880s and 1890s. Grant Barrett points out that the specific application to vendor dates from 1935 in the Dictionary of American Regional English. In my time, the past quarter-century, arabber specifically meant African-American street vendors who sold produce from carts drawn by ponies.
Can anyone help with Ms. Lightner's query? Did arabber once include the junk man, the rag-and-bone man and any other street peddler, or was it restricted to a specific group of produce sellers? Testimony from memory would be welcome. Evidence from printed sources would be invaluable.