Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Peddler

He drove a 1953 Chevy pickup with a canopied wooden produce stand on the bed. The truck was the color of a gun barrel and clean as a hearse. On Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer months, you could always count on him to come by about 3 p.m. He would toot his horn a little before he got to West Pratt and when he made his stop in front of our house, the kids swarmed like yellow jackets to a watermelon rind.
His name was Mr. Vandiver and he wore a pith helmet like the ones worn by rich Englishmen on Safari in Africa. His kaki pants and shirts were always starched and ironed. He was a soft spoken man with a keen eye for picking out tomatoes, squash, green beans and cantaloupes. He also had his finger on the pulse of what the kids liked. He had a section of penny candy...Mary Janes, jaw breakers, and rolls of Bazooka Bubblegum as big as a cigar. He carried potato chips, snowballs, and moon pies. In the very back of the pickup he had a number 3 washtub full to the rim with chipped ice and underneath the ice were bottles of Orange Crush, Nehi Grape, Dr. Peppers, CoCola's and RC's.
After the kids bought their stuff, the adults would come up and browse through the cucumbers, tommy-toe tomatoes and the fruit.
I'm not sure where all Mr. Vandiver served, but he came by our house for years until our town moved to the highway and the wheels of progress made his work obsolete. I was thinking about the peddler on my way home today and it occurred to me just how much life has changed over the years. Nowadays I can go to the Super-Mart and buy anything I can imagine, but I think that today there is more emphasis on the bottom line than on selecting tomatoes that make my mamma smile. I also don't believe a Super-Mart could ever leave a memory like a simple peddler selling Cracker Jacks and Dr. Peppers to dusty kids in a mining camp.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Thanks for giving me my Dr. Pepper memory. I would write about it for the website, but my sister would never forgive me.


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