Business in the neighborhood


MISSOURI, March 3, 2014 —Do you remember the merchants who brought their wares, goods, and food products not only to our neighborhood but also sometimes to our very door?

Remember Sam, who had a push cart with a sand stone mounted for sharpening the knives for the housewives? He pushed his cart all over town shouting “knives sharpen.” Housewives heard the message and brought out various knives to him to sharpen. Today where do you go to get a knife sharpened? Perhaps in our disposable society, we throw them away when they get dull and buy new ones. Or maybe we just don’t use knives like we used to.

How about the iceman? You put a card in the window to let the iceman know if you wanted 25 or 50 pounds of ice. The ice went into an icebox with a drip pan that you had to constantly check to make sure there was no overflow of melted ice. A familiar sound was one of the parents saying “shut the ice box door” so the ice didn’t melt.

There was the milkman who delivered the milk “in Glass bottles” and other dairy products. “Don’t forget to sit out the empty milk bottles for the milkman.” How about the treat of chocolate milk?

The insurance man called on clients in their home and became one of the advisors of the family relative to finances. Families paid their 35-cent premium and sometimes had to borrow on a policy. The insurance man was part of the community and was respected. He was always offered a coffee or glass of water and would visit time permitting. He always carried a large amount of money, but he was never robbed.

Bakery trucks sold doughnuts and bread. Inside the white trucks were men dressed in white with black bow ties. When he visited the neighborhood, you could also give him orders to fill in the coming weeks such as a cake for a birthday party or some other event.

The vacuum man came to your home to demonstrate the qualities of a vacuum. There were all kinds of weekly payment plans as vacuums were considered a luxury item for the home because linoleums covered most floors.

The Jewell tea man who sold the jellies, soaps and other products also came to the door. He would knock on your door and have a small basket with some specials for the week. He would take your orders for the next time he visited your neighborhood.

Farmers with fresh produce delivered and sold at your front door. The farmers would come to the city and stay until their fresh corn, string beans, potatoes and other produce were sold.

All of the above were part of the neighborhood scene. How safe, simple and uncomplicated. Time has marched on and now we have progressed to the big super stores, the service stations which sell groceries, the stores that sell everything from paint for the house to canned goods.

Many of us Seniors miss those summer days where one could hear Sam saying, “Knives Sharpen,” the farmer shouting, “fresh corn” and even the “Ragman’” shouting “Rags” Rags.”

We have lost that simplicity of living. If we could have the simplicity of life gone by along with all the advances of today, this great country would-be Utopia.


However, that’s from a time and place I am from-

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