My Gram Martin was my best customer when I came up with another money making scheme. She smiled and reached for her little snap purse and dug out the coins for whatever new product I was peddling at the time. Of course, now that I am working daily for Miss Hobbs’ there is no time for the door to door selling and probably the neighbors are glad.
You see, Ma and Dad had friends who had a son quite a few years older but who liked comic books. When he was through with them, they were stacked in a pile and while visiting, were given to Ma and Dad to bring home for us. There were all those little ads on the back cover and on a page inside that told of the wonderful prizes one could win if x amount of product was sold.
One product was very attractive to me because of its name. Rosebud Salve. Now who could resist buying something as wonderful as that even sounded? I asked Ma and she said, well, if you want to try it, you can, but don’t you order more than five tins. I think she was mentally tallying up how many neighbors I could pester to buy one and then added a couple on for herself. Oh, the day that Johnny Howe, our mail man put those in our mailbox, I was in heaven. I turned the cap on the tin and the smell of roses just filled the air. BUT, it not only smelled wonderful, but it had a list of wonderful uses as well…it had to be like Cloverine Salve but smelled like roses!!
I took the box of tins and sauntered over the path in the field to Grammy’s so I could get her ideas on the salve. Ma wouldn’t be home from the mill for awhile and Gram would tell me the truth. I took the pretty little tin out and explained it all to Gram. Well, my goodness, she said,smoothing her apron down. I never smelled anything as good as that , except my own roses. She poked at her glasses and sat down in the rocking chair on the porch and read the list of all the wonderful things this salve could cure or help, at least. I am thinking, Sandra, I should have two of these. I can use one now and have one on hand. Well that was easy. Why don’t you go down and see Grace, Gram said, I bet she would take at least one. At this point, I was getting really excited. Nine year old sales people get excited at a big sale right off the bat.
Grace was watering her flowers in the little nook below her house and she put her hands over her eyes to shield from the sun and said, What have you got there, Sandra? Well, let me tell you. I went through the same spiel and let her smell the salve and I’ll be darn but she took my hand and into her house we went. Out came her black purse with the big snap on top, and she dropped enough change for another two tins in my hand. I had sold four out of five of the tins! Ma would be some surprised, that was for sure.
Making sure I thanked her, I went home, peeled potatoes and got everything in order for Ma to come home and then I’d surprise her by showing her the one tin I had left.
Supper on the table; Dad with his coffee and Ma with her tea. Timing was everything. I gave Ma the big news and she was some tickled. She smelled the tin of salve and went to the cupboard and dug out the change for the last tin. What’s this, Dad said, sipping his coffee? Maybe I’d like a tin of that salve too. You never know when I might need something to put on my hands. They get mighty dry and sometimes a fish hook snags a finger. Ma told him he had better things to do than walk around smelling like a rose bush. I knew Dad was kidding because he was tapping his foot, the way he always does when he is pulling my leg.
Now I could send the money to the company and keep the rest for myself or select a prize. I decided I’d keep t he money and order a guitar from the Sears Roebuck catalog that Gram gave us. You don’t want that, Ma warned. That is a toy guitar and not like your brother’s guitar. You won’t be able to play it. Nothing she said would convince me otherwise, so she made out the order and away it went the next day.
Each day I watched for Johnny Howe and waited for my guitar. Ma was right. What was I thinking? Ma was always right. The “guitar” was maybe a foot and a half long and the strings were plastic and it was plastic and oh, there was all my Rosebud salve profit in that thing. She didn’t say I told you so. She told me to hang it on the attic wall for a decoration. That’s what I did…and I think she knew it would remind me to listen to her next time I wanted to order something sight unseen!
Oh, the way I have earned money through the years. Pitching and treading hay, turning the grindstone for my Uncle Louis, mowing Gram’s lawn ( but I was not allowed to take the dime she offered), picking potato buds off Grampa’s potato plants and that field of potatoes was BIG, peddling the Grit, selling Cloverine salve and Rosebud Salve. I stopped short of selling greeting cards. Ma said enough was enough.
I think she and the neighbors had a secret party the day I started working for Miss Hobbs. All but Grammy Martin…she would buy something right this day if I were to go see her with a tin of anything.
I know my Gram.