An old friend writes a blog that I read every time he posts something and a couple weeks ago he did one that really sent me into an entire day of nostalgia. He referenced the Dugan man who used to come door to door selling baked goods. I knew exactly what he was talking about because the Dugan man came to our house as well and I can still see his panel truck pulling into the driveway and my mother grabbing her purse. He would take a few minutes to gather his goods into his large carrying tray and then walk up to the door, knowing what things he'd sell at this address. He always had bread and rolls and he always brought some extra goodies (like cupcakes) to try to entice Mom to spend a little more on this trip. My mother was a great baker so she didn't often buy extras, but the special order cakes she bought for our birthdays were an amazing treat I still long for: layer upon layer of luscious cake with wonderful butter cream icing in between. And the beautiful flowers on the top along with the birthday girl or boy's name were amazing to me!
There were other door-to-door salesmen in those days. We saw the Fuller Brush man at least twice a year, and Mom would always get new toothbrushes and sometimes a nice hairbrush, as well as the occasional toilet brush or other household item. There was a man with a heavy middle-eastern accent - perhaps Egyptian?-who came about once a year carrying two suitcases stuffed with beautiful linens. They were wrapped in brown paper with twine and he would open each package, bring out the tablecloths or napkins one at a time for Mom to feel and admire, turning each one over with care, then when she politely admired them and shook her head "no" he'd re-wrap them. I remember being fascinated with the knots he made in that twine - each one carefully tightened just right.
Mom rarely bought linens but she looked longingly at them all and sometimes picked out something special for the dining room table, which she then cared for meticulously. They must have been expensive and a real stretch for her pocketbook.
Living in the village meant we were visited by all the salesmen as they traveled up and down Montauk Highway. What a wonderful era that was and how I wish I could sit in my living room now and shop while being able to touch and examine those linens instead of shopping for them on my computer, or look at them through heavy plastic wrapping! Those were surely more civilized days.