The Flowering Vine: Harder Than Times in ’29

TRAVELING SALESMAN

During the years that my Mom, Uncle Jim, Aunt Joyce, Aunt Dot, and Uncle Leroy grew up—as the young folks say these days— “The struggle was real!” Not that the struggle wasn’t real before the 1940’s and 50’s; oh no! I don’t think anyone would disagree with me if I said that, the 30’s, 20’s and all decades prior, were as hard as hard can get. However, I am privileged to first-hand accounts of the afore-mentioned decades from Mom and her siblings.

One aspect of those times that I love hearing about, is the tales of the traveling salesmen. I can remember a man coming to our home selling Hoover vacuum cleaners. He put on one heck of a demonstration. I was amazed by the wondrous machine that this man introduced to us that day. I guess Gramp was as amazed as I was because, if my memory serves me, she purchased that silver torpedo with the elephantine trunk that day.

That vacuum served a twofold purpose, in those days. The first being the obvious one of sucking up the dirt that I and my siblings had tracked into Gramp’s house. Its secondary purpose was as various space tools and weapons, during my imaginary journeys through the galaxy, and yes, beyond!

Also, I can remember the insurance salesman coming by Gramp’s house, or as he was commonly known, the “Insurance Man”. He came bearing a large black leather book with handles.  It reminded me of a Bible in shape, color and texture, but there was nothing else Biblical about it.  It was very messy and disorganized. Bits and pieces of what I assumed, were the lives of his clients, peeked out like little shy elves, trying to get a glimpse of me, while I did the same to him.  Then he’d sit, carry on idle conversation, with the big book opened on his lap. He’d shuffle the papers until he found the one with the lives of my Grandparents on it, then some more pleasantries and a small transfer of money from Gramps hands to his and he was gone.

THAT WAS THE 60’S AND 70’S 

During Mom and them’s formative years, things were different, but the same.

My cousin Gwin’s and my parents, lived and survived on practically little or nothing. As I stated before, times were hard!

The things they did have were bought from traveling salesmen. There weren’t any Wal-Marts, with row after row and shelf after shelf of Wranglers and what-not. There were no Footlocker’s for young feet full of fire. There was just that old traveling salesman.

According to the accounts of my Mom and others, there were several different types of door-to-door salesmen. For instance, there was the Watkins Products salesmen. His inventory of wondrous wares included, but was not limited to; liniments, hair products, and the pièce de résistance, Watkins Petro-Carbo Salve; used to heal cuts and draw out splinters.

Granddaddy Leroy and Mother bought, among other things, school clothes for their children from these salesmen. This clothing salesman hawked his habiliment from the trunk of his old DeSoto automobile. Granddaddy Leroy and Mother paid Mr. Macon (the salesman’s name) $2 per week. The salesman kept a “running tab” of what was owed him.

In relating these events, my mother expressed how excited she and her siblings would be to see and choose from crisp school dresses, and long-sleeved, striped, shirts & jeans. Mom’s favorite dress of all, from the trunk of Mr. Macon’s DeSoto, was a red, plaid one, with white lace pockets and white lace on the sleeves.

With a nostalgic tone and a wistful look flirting across her countenance, Mom told me how she was so excited and felt so pretty on the first day of school. At that time, she was in the third or fourth grade and I can tell you with a surety, founded in pictures that I’ve seen from those  years, that she was an especially beautiful child. It is easy for me to imagine how beautiful she must have been in that dress, smiling a smile, a mile wide!

Besides the salesmen like Mr. Macon who ventured in vestments, there were others who sold, sundry stock like: books; Bibles, almanacs, and encyclopedias. As a matter of fact, my own father—who taught school most of the year—sold encyclopedias during the summer. He even sold himself a set of Childcraft encyclopedias, when I was about 4 or 5 years old. In my opinion, that particular purchase was the best purchase he ever made. Before I could read, I spent hours just looking at the pictures. When my father would read the captions under the pictures to me, I would remember them, and quote them back, word-for-word.

When I learned to read, nothing could come between me and the knowledge those books contained. -Ron Brown

           

True Railroad Stories: The Peanut Man

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Hi Guys!

Some of you may remember that I previously posted a few of my Daddy’s tales from his 30-something year railroad career which spanned from the late 1960’s to the late 1990’s.

Naturally, he has a lot of amazing true stories to tell 🙂 

Just in case you’ve missed earlier posts, you can click on the links that I have included below. Trust me you will NOT be disappointed.

Today’s story is very inspiring and I am sure you’ll enjoy it!

Take it away Daddy!

LadyG 😘💋

 

Early on in my Railroad career, I worked as a flagman for a major railroad in the South.  At that time, I was assigned to a local freight train that operated daily between a large city and a smaller town in Georgia.

As the only black crew member in the late 1960’s, I was often exposed to racism–Many times to the point of depression.

However, the events in this story helped me to regain my faith and hope in mankind.

The person that I give most credit to restoring my faith was a white brakeman that I will call “Charlie.”

Although Charlie was not particularly fond of black people, we worked pretty well together.  He and I did most of the ground work when our train stopped in sidetracks to switch industries or pick or set-off railcars.

In one of the towns where we worked, we would often meet up with “The Peanut Man.”

The Peanut Man was an elderly black gentleman who rode around town on a three-wheel bike with a basket on the back filled with boiled and roasted peanuts.

Now, to the best of my recollection, The Peanut Man wore the exact same outfit every time we saw him–a worn and tattered black suit with a frayed white collared shirt.  A faded red bowtie, black fedora and horned rimmed glasses completed his ensemble.

Despite the ragged condition of his clothing, I often marveled at the way in which his deep dark complexion accentuated his smooth leathery skin.

Anyway, whenever Charlie and I stopped in The Peanut Man’s hometown, he’d start pedaling-feverishly- right toward us.  

Of course, we knew that he knew that we were his best customers.

 Why was that?  

Well, Charlie and I once asked The Peanut Man if he ever got tired of pedaling around town in order to sell his peanuts.  We wondered this because the town had several steep hills and, as I implied, he was well past his prime.

The Peanut man replied, “Yeah, but I need to make much money as I can.”

Though we didn’t say anything, Charlie and I both knew good and well that this man was too old to seek and find regular employment so selling peanuts was his only option for making a living.

With that in mind, whenever we saw him, we’d always buy as many bags as we could afford.

In fact, Charlie often bought much more than I did.

Here’s the amazing thing, I learned several years later that Charlie did not eat peanuts-nor did anyone else in his family.

From time to time I still wonder why he continued to buy all those peanuts.

Do you have any idea why?

-The Conductor

LOL!!!! Hey Da, I have my suspicions but I think I’ll leave it to my friends to try to hazard a guess in the comment section!

 

Other “True Railroad Stories” from Dad:

The Coal Toss

The Passengers

The Gathering of The Fireflies

 

 

Technology: 1960’s Style!

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Every now and then Lady G likes to poke around on YouTube.

Don’t judge!

You’re at work and you’ve probably just finished looking at it yourself 😉

HA!

Anyway, several years ago I ran across this video that supposedly illustrates a 1960’s vision for future technologies.

While I can’t confirm the authenticity, I can tell you that this little gem tickles the hell out of my inner geek!   🙂

Anyway, it’s only about two minutes long so check it out and let me know what you think in comments.

 

Video credit:   Clark7795

Remember to check out “My Jams 93” tomorrow at 5pm 🙂

Have a magnificent day!

LadyG 😘💋