The year was 1963 or 64. The Jewel Tea Man had arrived at our little home with his latest Spring catalogue. This was a moment I had long anticipated. It had already been decided by my mother that I was going to be the recipient of a new Easter dress this year. Now this didn't happen every year for me. I was the last of seven children and if your Easter dress from the preceding year still fit you there was certainly not going to be any money wasted on a new one this year.
Mom and I carefully viewed the dresses and agreed on a two piece outfit, how exciting. The jacket was a rainbow of pastel stripes matched with a white, narrow pleated skirt. This was my first grown up two piece outfit. Before I had always worn ruffled or lacy dresses. Mom also bought a pair of white patent shoes for me with a matching purse and white gloves, of course!
Now you can only imagine my excited anticipation of the day when my Easter outfit would arrive. The Jewel Tea Man orders didn't arrive quickly, so it was weeks from the time it was purchased before my outfit did finally arrive.
And now here is the sad part...I was a wicked little girl. After school my cousins and I had taken to playing around the RR tracks beneath the 2nd street bridge.
not actual bridge, similar
Don't ask me why, it was so long ago I can't even remember. Maybe it was to collect rocks, I honestly can't say. But looming on the opposite side of the bridge was a factory-Hubinger.
It wasn't long before it was noted by the workers of the factory that there were children playing around the RR tracks. A call was made to my mother. You may wonder how they knew where I lived. What I didn't tell you was that our home was only half a block from the factory. So it was very easy to watch as I walked from the bridge right to our back kitchen door.What turned out to be a very odd coincidence was that the very day that I arrived home after playing near the tracks was also the day my Easter coat of many colours had arrived from the Jewel Tea Man. I still remember so vividly to this day walking in the door, seeing my mother holding the jacket still wrapped in plastic in her hands. But she wasn't smiling. What could be wrong I had wondered?
It didn't take long for her to tell me that she had received a call from Hubingers that her daughter had been repeatedly seen playing near the RR tracks beneath the 2nd street bridge. They were concerned, not only because of the trains that pass through, but also because they had dispensed rat poison among the gravel rocks surrounding the tracks. Worst of all, my mother informed me that they were going to call the police if they caught us down there again. I'm not really sure if this was so or Mom's own embellishment to stress just how serious this matter was. But the real tear jerker was that if she couldn't trust me to never go down to the RR tracks the Easter outfit was going to have to go back. I happy to say that through very tearful pleas and promises I managed to convince my mother that I would never go to play under the bridge again and was able to proudly wear my coat of many colours on that Easter Sunday.
And to this day, I have never been under that bridge again!
The Jewel Tea man was a welcome site to my mother. With seven children to care for it was wonderful luxury to order the goods right from her kitchen table, then have it delivered to our home as well. I remember her ordering everything; pots and pans, food items, clothing, toys and linens.
Did you have a Jewel Tea Man in your neighborhood?