I know I have stolen the title above but it caused me to reflect on my father. For a while my dad was an itinerant hawker selling fruit and vegetables from home to home, around Ocean Grove and Geelong. There was a tradition in my family of this type of work. A grandfather and a great grandfather had done the same. In fact it was an age of home delivery. The baker, butcher, iceman, milkman and even the draper came in vans on a regular basis. I remember the Rawleigh man coming with his suitcase of lotions and potions. The memories of hearing the milkman’s horse clip clopping past the house in the early morning and chasing the iceman for a piece of ice on a hot dusty day in summer, is still strong.
Slowly these mobile salesmen (I don’t remember ever seeing a woman do this) have faded into the past. Supermarkets and cars led to their demise. Nothing ever stays the same. Today we are seeing a modern version: Internet sales. The sales people are in our homes and what we want is delivered to our doors. I have to confess that a lot of my purchases are now delivered by my “Pay” pal.
Yet I still miss riding in the back of my dad’s truck during the holidays “helping” him on his rounds and meeting his amazing variety of customers; migrants from all parts of Europe, a WW1 gas attack survivor, and a seaman who had clung to a table when the Titanic sank. My dad being a gregarious man elicited amazing stories from these, now long gone, people. And I miss the smell of fresh bread wafting from the back of the baker’s van. Horses and carts on the street, even a few, seemed to have a way of slowing life down to a more reasonable pace.
The internet is helpful and efficient. Its range is enormous. But give me the hawkers and the colour and life they brought from house to house. I can’t imagine my children ever being nostalgic about a mouse click on an internet sales site.