Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"New Year Resolution ©" By Abraham Lincoln

I made a resolution, in 1952 to work my way back home instead of asking my father for a bus ticket. I hired on with as an encyclopedia salesman instead of hitch-hiking back to Ohio. I was in Tucson, Arizona and spent the summer working on a cattle ranch in the White Mountains around Show Low.

We went door-to-door and tried to convince people to sign up for a set of Britannica Encyclopedias and were instructed to go to the poorest sections in towns. The idea was that poor people didn’t want their children to go through the things they went through and would be willing to spend a few dollars each week on books their children could learn something from. They would sign up and a book would be sent to them to start their collection with.

The guy who drove the car was the boss and we eventually got to New Mexico and then on to Texas. I was surprised at how alone I felt out in the middle of nowhere, trying to look casual, selling encyclopedias, but worried about the boss returning to pick me up. Gosh, what would I ever do if he didn’t pick me up?

Later on, while we were all eating at a bar that sold cheap sandwiches, somewhere in West Texas, I promised myself that I would never sell encyclopedias again—I made it my New Year’s Resolution.

I struck up a conversation with a man who thought I needed some help. I told him that I was selling encyclopedias and he said he was on his way to Houston and asked if I wanted a job, “Selling pots and pans, from door-to-door.”

I hired on and immediately got some spending money and laid-up in an upstairs apartment somewhere in Fort Worth. That spending money was akin to that “flying twenty” the Army gave new recruits to buy a toothbrush, a bar of soap and other essentials.

There used to be a desert between Fort Worth and Dallas and houses were few and far between so selling pots and pans was hard to do. The boss thought we would do a lot better in Houston and we took off for the best locations in the city and to the most expensive houses in the neighborhoods—we never went to the poorest sections of town to sell pots and pans.

It was the first time my knock on a door brought a butler with a silver tray asking me to please put my business card on the tray. I didn’t have any and telling him I was there to sell pots and pans usually resulted in the door being closed in my face.

We all had to wash our clothes out by hand and hang them in the room to dry out so we had something to wear the next day.

It was a hard way for me to get from there to Ohio and I didn’t think I would ever make it. So I wrote a letter to my dad and asked him to send me $40.00 by Western Union so I could buy a bus ticket and come back home. So much for selling pots and pans in Texas.

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