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Fuller Brush man, the Pony Man, and other door-to-door salesmen

Posted by Dennis H 
Fuller Brush man, the Pony Man, and other door-to-door salesmen
September 27, 2010 12:02PM
It's been decades since I've seen a Fuller Brush man come to the door selling brooms, mops, etc. [The company is still in business, by the way.] My mother was always polite to these gentlemen whether she bought anything or not.
Who else came door to door selling goods? Seems like there was the occasional vacuum cleaner salesman or the encyclopedia salesman.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 02/20/2011 01:27AM by Dennis H.
Re: Fuller Brush man
September 27, 2010 01:45PM
Haven't seen any Fuller Brush men in years. All I get coming to my door are people wanting a hand out. Don't forget the "Amway" sales people. My mom got into Amway for a while.
Re: Fuller Brush man
September 27, 2010 01:45PM
You asked for examples of other door-to-door in Dallas. (By the way women worked for Fuller-Brush, etc. as well as men.) Three others I remember from the 1950s and 1960s were Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind, photographers, and Avon. The salesmen for Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind sold brooms, dustcloths, lightbulbs, etc. that they carried in a wire basket strapped to their bodies. I don't know if all of the salesmen were visually impaired, but some were, and it was amazing to see them go from house to house. A photographer would set up a portable backdrop and take portraits in your living room. I don't remember if he shot the photos the same day he wrote up the order or came back a few days later (most probably the later). Avon saleswomen now just leave a catalog on your porch, but there was a time in Dallas when they rang the doorbell and had a case of samples with them.
Re: Fuller Brush man
December 18, 2010 07:28AM
The last Fuller Brush Man died in Broward County, Florida in November 2010

Re: Fuller Brush man
December 18, 2010 07:30AM

The last Fuller brush man died in Broward County, Florida in November, 2010
Re: Fuller Brush man
December 18, 2010 09:03AM
I remember the Fuller Brush men and also the Kirby vacuum cleaner salesmen with their container of dirt they'd pour on your carpet so they could demonstrate the suction power of a Kirby. My mother finally bought one (they were hundreds of dollars back in the 60's and 70's when a Hoover or Kenmore was less than a hundred) when we got a house with green shag carpet in the den. It was so heavy she got sore shoulders from pushing it around. She finally went back to a Hoover for that reason.
Re: Fuller Brush man
December 18, 2010 01:15PM
I remember one photographer in particular. He came around every couple of years with a Shetland pony. My parents have photos of both my sister and I on that same horse, but taken several years apart. When my sister became engaged to her future husband we had dinner with is family. They lived miles from us but there on the mantle were pictures of both of their sons on the same pony. I don't know who the man was but I would love to find out how many people in Dallas were photographed sitting on that same poor horse. I think it would be fun to organize an exhibit somewhere.
Re: Fuller Brush man
December 21, 2010 05:19AM
Just to let everyone know. The Fuller Brush Man (who sometimes is a woman like me) is very much alive and well. I am part of the Downeast Winning Team. We are trying to bring Fuller Brush back where it once was. Alice
Re: Fuller Brush man
December 21, 2010 12:28PM
I am still using a hair brush that I bought from a Fuller Brush salesman in 1973.
I remember him. The hair brush is perfect still, but my hair has thinned to the max.
Re: Fuller Brush man
December 25, 2010 08:23PM
In addition to the Fuller Brush salesmen, there was Jewel Tea. I think JT sold all sorts of stuff like spices and vanilla, in addition to tea, as my grandmother always bought something from them.

Altozwei... The photographer with the pony came through our neighborhood every year and I still have several photos with me sitting on that paint pony.

Marilyn... Folks from Lighthouse for the Blind also came by every month or so and they made good brooms!

We also had the horse drawn wagons of watermelons, small dump trucks with either loam soil or cow manure, and farmers hawking their vegetables and fruit. They would all drive slowly down the street and had "runners" to go to each house and try to make the sells. The farmers would have runners carrying small straw baskets showing the variety and quality of their wares, such as green beans, squash, tomatoes, peaches, plums, etc.

Those are my memories from the 1940s-'50s in Oak Cliff. ...........Fred
Re: Fuller Brush man
January 31, 2011 05:06PM
Altozwei sez <<I remember one photographer in particular. He came around every couple of years with a Shetland pony. My parents have photos of both my sister and I on that same horse, but taken several years apart. When my sister became engaged to her future husband we had dinner with is family. They lived miles from us but there on the mantle were pictures of both of their sons on the same pony. I don't know who the man was but I would love to find out how many people in Dallas were photographed sitting on that same poor horse. I think it would be fun to organize an exhibit somewhere.>>

This would be a great thread throughout all of America, it's universal. I'm sure many horses would have envied that "poor horse" toting (sp) a child momentarily for posterity. Maybe the Dallas Museum archives could be contacted for a potential local exhibit. I doubt that the men or horses of that era can ever be identified, but wouldn't it be neat if they were? Could any world famous equine celebrity ever have achieved as much celluloid documentation as a single one of these trusty props? Nope.
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 01, 2011 11:35AM
I think we have a photograph of my father taken on a pony in his neighborhood around Willomet in Oak Cliff. It was taken in the late 1920s.
I certainly have a photo of him looking like Tom Mix Jr. (sans pony)!

On a related note, does anyone ever recall seeing an Organ Grinder Man?
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 01, 2011 03:44PM
I've got a picture from the Pony Man, and I remember an organ grinder guy with a monkey who used to come to Walnut Hill Village once in a while... the monkey would come take coins from the kids (my mom would give me a penny usually). I was amazed at the monkey's little tiny hands.
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 02, 2011 11:28AM
The knife and scissor sharpener used to push his cart down Normandy Ave., blowing his multi-note flute. This was around 1945.
The housewives, or the young children would bring out what was needing sharpening to him, and watch him. The flute had a multi-note shrill to it that was distinctive, and you instantly knew he was coming. The man looked Italian, foreign,with a floppy fedora hat, and pushed a pedal that powered a huge stone grinding wheel, upon which he placed the blades upon and sharpened perfectly.
This was not a young man. I guessed he was in his 50's.
His price was high, as my Mother said, but lasted a long time.
Today, as an old man, I take time to sharpen my knives, and I think of him.
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 03, 2011 02:56PM
anyone remember airway vacuam cleaners sold door to door
Re: Fuller Brush man
February 03, 2011 03:07PM
i still have a good collection of jewel tea dinnerware it was called autum leaf the hardest pieces to find are the water glasses and the bread boxes in dood shape the water glasses were easily broken and not many survived that were in daily use and the paint flaked off the bread boxes easily i wonder if it was lead based

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2011 08:01PM by rojinks.
Re: Fuller Brush man
February 03, 2011 03:10PM
i still have a good collection of jewel tea dinnerware it was called autum leaf the hardest pieces to find are the water glasses they usually were broken and the paint flaked off the bread boxes easily i wonder if it was lead based
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 04, 2011 05:03PM
Some of this has been covered in earlier threads I think, but the search feature is not always useful.

Since the original subject was door-to-door salesmen I’ll ask admission by noting that I remember the Fuller Brush Man and the salesman from the Lighthouse for the Blind. My mother brought all her brooms from the latter and am sure some items from the first named. Our milk delivery and bread delivery were off trucks that came through the neighborhood. (One thing that has always struck me as odd: Oklahoma City, or at least the area near the Oklahoma State Capital Building where our relatives lived, was served then by horse drawn milk wagons. That would have been during the War years, whereas Dallas had motor trucks.) Sometimes there were ice cream trucks in my neighborhood during the summer, probably later. I can barely remember vacuum cleaner salesmen throwing dirt on the carpet and cleaning it up but could not have named them as Kirby reps. I don’t remember anyone selling vegetables. There might have been cutlers sometimes, but I’m not sure.

So far as vegetables were concerned , there was a vacant lot next to us and my mother grew a Victory Garden at least one year. One of the things she had were berry vines for which my father made a light low trellis. My mother had lived in a small town as a child. Her mother grew a two acre garden every year and canned the produce, fed her family during the winter that way. On road trips my parents would stop and gather poke weed in the spring. Later in the year they would gather wild berries and we all got a lot of chiggers. I also remember them gathering pecans beneath large old growth trees – that would have been at my paternal grandmothers, I think - and tossing wooden poles like rake handles up to knock down more nuts.

Really though, this thread and others just revived called up a lot of childhood memories and I’ll go on. I grew up in North Dallas and not Oak Cliff, so I have no recollection of the person offering pony rides and photos door to door. If someone did that in my neighborhood, I have forgotten.
My family bought one of the last houses completed in University Park after Pearl Harbor, about halfway between Lovers Lane and Southwestern and just west of Willard. Our block was paved and the one east of us that ran to Coit Road which was about where the access road for Central is today, but there were dirt roads west and north of us and I think some of them stayed that way through the War. There were some houses on Southwestern but a lot of bare land, worn out cotton land I suppose, between us and the Caruth estate on their hill. For a while the mail service was to a group of mailboxes on Willard rather than home delivery. Mail delivery by a walking post man carrying a mailbag came later. And we had a party line for phone service for several years with the usual attendant squabbles.

Perhaps because of the vacant land there were several species of small wildlife not seen so often later. Horned toads and garter snakes were not uncommon. A dog we owned once raised a skunk in the back yard and I guess my father had a pretty ticklish time getting the dog in hand without getting sprayed. In the summer we sat out on blankets in the backyard during the evening because it was cooler than being in the house. I can remember listening to a Joe Louis boxing match outdoors like that, after the War.

One couple that lived across the street from us was named Johnson, Katy Sue and “Skeet.” They eventually moved to Waxahachie I think and ran a hardware store for many years. Another couple were the Aiello’s, Harry and Ruby. He was a buyer for Dreyfuss IIRC. The Aiello’s had a nephew connected with the Fair Park musicals, again if my memory is correct and he was also an amateur magician. I went to a birthday party once where he performed. Another neighbor had a connection with the rackets in Dallas, or at least gambling. Sometimes he drove a Cadillac. Sometimes a week later he was without a car. He was mentioned in a article about Benny Binion I read years later and called an honest fader. Notwithstanding that his wife was attacked and roughed up outside their home one night by gamblers hunting for him. Quite an up roar in the neighborhood but my family slept through it. Still another neighbor had a connection to Bobby Layne, the football player. He would visit them sometimes.

I have noted that there was a lot of bare land around us. People wanted shade, or maybe like my parents who planted pecans, nuts. Over time, flying in and out of Love Field a change could be seen. It got greener in that part of the city as the trees grew. Previously it had been unrelieved rooftops and lawns and they were sometimes brown in the summer heat. I could often pick out my parents house depending on which side of the airplane my seat was located. All that changed when DFW opened. Generally speaking you are too far west. If I visit Dallas again perhaps I’ll try to book into Love and see how it looks now.

Snider Plaza was just a few blocks away and for a long time there were two barber shops across from the Varsity Theater. The HOF pitcher Dizzy Dean hung out in one of them. I was in that shop once, making loud a loud eighth grade complaint about the hard time my parents were giving me and I stopped when I realized I had drawn the attention of an old man waiting for his haircut or maybe just gabbing. It was Dean and he said something like, “Son, if you are having such a bad time you ought to leave home.” I didn’t say anything more. Mostly for the benefit of my children, in case they should chance to see this, I will mention that Dean had no education past elementary school and that he grew up chopping cotton.

Near me was (is) the triple intersection of Amherst, Dublin, and I think Durham. Durham terminates there and it being a low point a storm sewer drains the area into the water at Curtis Park, past Snider Plaza which must be about one-half mile away, and then to Turtle Creek. The main run was of a diameter that permitted boys to walk underground between the points noted. You could make a similar trip from a point near the University Park City Hall, but not for so great a distance. Some years ago there was an article in D Magazine about kids walking through storm sewers and they must have been present all around Dallas. I can remember seeing the outflow end of similar drains in the Trinity River bed as you approached from the west. I have never been much of an assassination conspiracy enthusiast, but have to admit that a plausible idea for a second gunman in the killing of JFK was given by Talese who related a story about a second gunman firing from a drain opening along the parade route and escaping via the river outlet. (As an aside, I would suppose that the Zapruder and other films have been checked to see if they cover that ground for any evidence of gun smoke.)

My father worked at Love Field and I remember the Elm Thicket area and the black owned BBQ stand with a ‘whites only” entrance. I also remember the mound of dirt near the south end which was the backstop when the guns of military aircraft were tested during the War. We lived about five miles from the airport and you could hear machine guns being fired at all times of day and night. Also during the War there was a depot for the 36th Infantry on the SW side of the airport and there were times when you had to go through a security check point to reach my father’s office. On the way to Love from our home you drove past a working farm on the SW corner of Inwood and Lovers Lane. The shopping area called “Miracle Mile: was built during my childhood.

I wonder who else recalls Victory Gardens and sitting outdoors on blankets during the summer? And how long since you saw a horned toad in the city?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/05/2011 12:35AM by Morrow Mustang.
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 04, 2011 10:57PM
NIce set of recollections, MM, from someone who lived in a different part of Dallas!
Re: Fuller Brush man and the Pony Man
February 07, 2011 07:20PM
I originally thought to make my tale above longer, but got tired of typing.

The property description below is accurate, or I should say accurate as my memory now yields, from the last time I drove by.

Lovers Lane today is the North boundary of property owned or at least occupied by the HPISD. The other boundaries are Westchester Drive (East), Douglas Avenue (West), and Grassmere Lane (South). The school system administrative building is on the NE corner and the HPHS baseball field, “Scotland Yard” is to the West. The football IPF is on the SW corner.

From Lovers Lane you can look South across the property and see the HPHS football stadium with the image of a Highlander in kilt and playing pipes on the façade above the main entrance. With respect to the stadium probably not many people know that it was built to fit the available space. The football field is full size of course, although I suppose that balls are still lost when extra points go over the fence. But the track around the field was not the standard quarter mile when built, but rather something shorter. For a relay race the points where the baton is passed did not correspond to other tracks. The same would be true for any finish line for a distance greater than about one-hundred yards. That was considered a handicap in practice but may have favored the HP runners in dual meets. Anyway, HP did have some good track teams.

It was not always so, at least the view of the football stadium was not always fairly unobstructed. Previously the property was owned by Park Cities Baptist Church which is now located East of Preston on NW Hiway. There were some trees on the property but nothing that looked much like a church. The Baptists had purchased an estate with a nice large house near Lovers Lane. The house might have been of frame construction but it was a nice place in the early 1940’s when taken over by the church and had it been maintained it would not be shabby today. The rooms had high ceilings and it had a large pretty staircase in the entry hall. I would not equate it the fine old homes I have read about in East Dallas, or the big places in Highland Park and Preston Hollow I have driven past, but it was nice.

Eventually the church people built a temporary sanctuary towards the rear of the property and also class room buildings for Sunday School between that building and the old home near Lovers Lane. Today, as noted, the Church is located on NW Hiway and has multiple buildings and parking garages, etc., on a property that must be about fully developed. I think that the land now occupied by PCBC was vacant before the church took it over, or mostly so, except for the big house. I suspect it had been part of a cotton farm or perhaps a pasture. I think that Johnson grass grew there although it might have been mowed.

One thing about that current PCBC location: There were serious objections n the part of church members about so “remote” a location. They said people would drive into town to attend church but not travel out into the country. The land across the hiway was bare, IIRC. The eventual development in North Dallas was not imagined.

But I wonder sometimes how archeologists would interpret the “record under the ground” if no further construction took place on that previous church property south of Lovers Lane and the ruins were some day excavated. You would have the foundations of the school administrative building and IPF and perhaps remnants of the old home and temporary church buildings beneath. Probably there were other structures on the property. Really, with only two or three levels of occupation the task would be simple compared to some places in Dallas that have been developed and redeveloped many times and of course there are classical sites in Greece that are very complicated indeed. To me some of the really interesting articles on this message board are about the old road beds, building foundations, and so on that are sometimes described and questioned.

There is one story connected with the school property that I have never seen in print, although that may be because I have not been a Dallas resident for close to fifty years. It is about the HP football stadium mentioned previously with its iconic image of a Highlander. A long time ago it was said there was an image of a Scottie dog, a terrier, in the same place. It was replaced when some curious individual happened by and asked innocently, or at least with a straight face, if the structure so marked was a large animal hospital.
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