Remember when you didn’t need to venture far from home to see and learn new and wondrous things? It was a time when all manner of cool stuff came right to your door.
Though I was not usually the target customer, I loved the visits we had on occasion from various folks selling this and that. A frequent caller was the Fuller Brush Man. "Hello, I'm your Fuller Brush Man, and I have a gift for you!" Usually, Mom didn't buy anything, but every now and then...
I still have an inherited Fuller Brush clothes brush that is almost as old as I am. It's bristles are bent and it's a bit ratty looking, but I love it. I’m so glad Mom bought that one. Written on its hardwood handle is $2.49, but the service that brush has given me? Priceless. I'm terrified something will happen to it. They just don't make them like that anymore.
The best smelling door-to-door salesman wasn't a man at all, of course, but the Avon Lady. You remember. "Ding dong. Avon calling!" She was one of my favorites, because she gave us all these neat samples: creams and lotions and, sometimes, cool little tubes of lipstick! She had everything a girl needed to be beautiful.
Of course, there were also people selling things we never bought, like that guy selling vacuum cleaners. I can’t remember his company, but I remember the way he dumped a bag of dirt on the floor. Oh-oh! But his vacuum cleaned it up, lickety-split! Wow! Who wouldn’t want that? But we didn’t buy one. We didn’t buy the knives, the encyclopedias or the sewing machine either.
Of course, sometimes I was the target market. For example, there was the guy with the horse. He came through the neighborhoods with this little pinto horse, enough costume stuff to trick you out as a cowboy or cowgirl, and a camera. You put on the chaps, the gun belt and six-shooter, and a cowboy hat, and got on the horse. He took your picture, and in a few weeks: it came; a portrait of you sitting astride your trusty steed, looking just like Roy Rogers or Dale Evans! Yippee ki-yay kay-yo!
And, oh, the ice cream man! The tinkling music of his truck on the next street over on a hot summer day sent all the kids running inside to beg for a nickel. I remember standing there, twitching nervously, waiting for my mother to find her purse and dig out a nickel. “Hurry! He’s coming!” My favorite Popsicle was banana. (In fact, my favorite Popsicle is still banana.) Root beer and that unnamed blue one were yummy too. Though they are not as ubiquitous today, I’m happy that ice cream trucks are still around. Like an old fire horse, the sound of the truck’s music sends me running, rummaging for a nickel, and another nickel, and another nickel and… How much is that Popsicle these days?
But my all-time favorite was the bookmobile. Remember them? During the summer, I anxiously awaited the bookmobile’s weekly arrival. We'd all stand outside at the curb as the scheduled time approached. You went in through the front door, and browsed your way through the stacks on both sides of the center aisle. When you reached the back, the driver would stamp your books and library card, and you went out the back door with your selections. Having those books in my arms was like holding a ticket to exciting new lands. Thanks to the bookmobile, I learned to love to read, a passion that burns brightly to this day. Whatever happened to bookmobiles?
Nobody ever comes to the neighborhood with cool stuff anymore. I kinda miss that.