Photo Credit: David Fulmer

Services and Service People in My Life

I don’t have much going on here as far as service to my home. The fuel people come about monthly (and oh my is it scary the prices that are being charged this winter for oil) but come to think of it, that is about all. No one knows I’m here. Over the years only two Evangelists found their way back to number 13 that I can remember. It is soooo nice to be private and anonymous.

But, now if I go to my childhood memories, well, I made a list and since women at home had no transportation to get them out in the daytime, the service men came to them!

The most memorable of them was Sam, from the Gildersleeve store in the village about three miles from us, owned by Bunny’s relative, “Billy” Gildersleeve. I suppose he decided it was more profitable to get a truck and one of his staff to go out to the outlying districts of town to the orders rather than to sit there in the store all day waiting for the customers to come in.

It is Thursday but we called it Sam’s Day and we waited patiently until Sam Baines came by in his reddish-brown truck. He was a patient, slow-spoken man, not at all pushy or obtrusive to the new or younger stay-at-home-women of the time. He sat at the head of the table in Grandma’s kitchen and we all sat opposite him as he ran down the list of possible “staples” we might need. He had many of them on his truck and kept a list on his little pad. When he had exhausted his suggestions and Grandma couldn’t think of anything else that she needed he would go out and bring in the supplies and something very special. Something that we kids had been waiting for all morning — a box about the size of a large shoebox, only square. He would sit there by the table with the box on his knees and open it with a flourish. Inside was a collection of candy bars, many of them are still around today. One by one we would go up and make our selection, the big decision of the week. I had trouble with this so I went last. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to get the Necco roll and have a sweet treat that would last several days or a Milky Way or Mounds Bar that would deliver a super sweet treat only this day and for just a few minutes. The Mounds Bar usually won out. That was our treat for the week and at a nickel a bar I would say the price was right too. The total bill for the week was about five dollars and if there was an item that wasn’t on the truck as sometimes happened with the perishable kind of foods, Uncle Ed would stop by on his way home and get it. An aside — if Sam stayed a little long at some voluptuous woman’s house…well, the gossip mongers would have a hay day with that! I say “hay” because I come from the farm!

To many people who were without transportation of their own this service was a godsend like Uncle Will just down the road and they really relied on it to bring the staples of life to them. It was a wonderful feeling to KNOW that we could exist though on our own what with jars and jars of preserved food from last summer’s garden and all those root vegetables in the big old rowboat down there. Also, nuts, jams, jellies, pickles, and honey stored in the house too. We were so self-sufficient and didn’t even realize it as so was everybody else who lived on farms around us! Oh, and I forgot our fresh meat was in the barn any time to be eaten and eggs were to be laid. What a life!

Other service men. How about our insurance man? Who was he? Well, his name was George Hale. And, he came around monthly to collect on life insurance. I think that it was way under a dollar each time he stopped by. He was also a nice person to have come to the house and would chat about the latest happenings going on in town.

And then there was the rag man. We kept a cloth bag on the back of the door going to the “back way” where we would put our rags, only after we could no longer find a use for them and every so often a man would come to pick them up. I remember reading about such people in Charles Dicken’s novels.

Oh, and the Watkins Man. He was friendly — OH, was he. One day I was sitting at the kitchen table, coloring, and suddenly I felt a hand and arm placed around my body! I screamed and ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs. I stayed there safely perched on the top of the staircase, waiting for him to leave. Thus, started my fear of strange men who happened to stop by…even Rev. Clapp! I would take off and listen to the conversation, sometimes he was rounding up someone to be a Sunday School Teacher or just came for a friendly “come to church” visit.

There are probably more folks like the man named Clark who wanted to start a school bus store in town. I remember him for a while and then he was gone. I probably remember more who came before 1939 as that was when I started school and wasn’t around our new house very much in the daytime. So, these memories are from when I lived in the old house…

Oh, yes, the WW II memories…the air raid wardens, the strange planes overhead that we could identify with our Weekly Raider diagrams, the scrap metal collectors and the used fat collectors.

And, the magazine club women. A group of about five women would each subscribe to a different magazine and they would pass them around to be read. It was a great idea, only until one woman wanted to have True Story as part of the collection. I remember reading that “risqué” periodical and one of the stories changed my life. Enough said!

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Gardener, artist, and keeper of family history

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