Remembering the “Peddlers”

Pearl Harris

I wonder if any of you older people remember when peddlers used to come to the countryside to sell their wares. When I was small we lived pretty far in the country and when we would see a person walking down the road with a pack on his back – or maybe riding a horse with saddle bags, or even a buggy, we would run in the house and tell my Mom. We were afraid it was “gypsies”. But there were usually several of them – both men and women. They didn’t have anything to sell, but you had to be very careful or they might pick up something. Anyway, I always liked to see what the peddlers had to sell. Mama would always wipe her hands and take a look. They brought everything – books, cologne, glassware, belts, jewelry, and the Watkins man who usually was in a buggy had a lot of articles for sale. My Mom always bought vanilla flavoring, spices, black pepper, Watkins liniment and some sort of salve in the big tin box. It was good for everything – just like the liniment. Another peddler brought “Rose” cream – sort of like Vaseline – but the can had a rose on it. I think maybe Watkins might still have salesmen – its been a few years since I have seen one. But in the 50’s when I kept books at Preaus Motor Co. there was a customer who still sold Watkins products. I was small, but I was always glad to see anyone come down the road to our house – cause it was lonesome. Sometimes vagrants would come through asking for food. My Mom always fed them, but it was always on the back porch and we were not allowed to talk to them. People couldn’t jump in the car and get little items that they ran out of – so it was convenient as well as a nuisance. Now we can get in the car and go get what we want. I told a young man who carried my groceries to the car about us ordering our groceries over the telephone and the store would deliver them. I recall ordering groceries from Westbrooks and Martin’s when we lived in Bernice. I have lots of good memories of when we lived in Bernice and I still have friends over there. There will always be a special place – because that’s where I met my beloved husband. Thank God for little towns like Bernice and Farmerville and all my friend of today and memories of past friendships. And God bless the ” peddlers” if there are any left.



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