The Fuller Brush Man

1965 and the stay-at-home mom and housewife were common, so too was a door-to-door salesman. Grolier, Watkins, Avon, Kirby, and Collier.

My favorite was the Fuller Brush Man.

The memories are little gems of a young life mixed with Kodacolored head pictures and internal feelings of wonderment. His name was either Mike or Mark, about thirtyish, balding with wire-rimmed glasses, and always wearing a short-sleeved, white button-down shirt and skinny brown knit tie.

Being so young, I never knew if he had an appointed schedule, going from area to area at certain times, or if he showed up out of the blue, unannounced. My adult self thinks he preplanned his visits as he always came when mom had freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies.

I would not have cared anyway, because he always had fascinating gadgets in the big suitcase he hauled around.

Best of all, he would let me select one and give it as a gift to Mom. And that is where all of this is leading, my mother, Mrs. Arnold, and a childhood remembrance recently shared by Jeanie French, Mrs. Arnold’s daughter.

Had Jeanie never brought up how the same door-to-door salesman used to sit at her mother’s dining table and enjoy iced tea, I would have never mentioned how he’d sit at our dinner table and enjoy my mother’s cookies. In the end, I don’t know if he ever sold anything to our mothers.

What I do recall is the sweet, simple memory of our mother’s visiting porch-to-porch, laughing and clucking of how polite the Fuller Brush man was and how, if they had all the money in the world, they’d buy everything in his sample bag and help him through college.

We moved in the Fall of 1967, and with the enchantment broken, I never saw a Fuller Brush Man making the rounds after that.


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