Friday, 25 March 2016

The Jewel Tea Man and My Easter Coat of Many Colours

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?


  1. I have not heard of the Jewel Tea man but what a wonderful story,, imagine it would be such a treat for your mum for sure,
    what wonderful memories and photos,, thank you so much for sharing this with us,

  2. I've not heard of this company either but we ordered from Sears or Montgomery Ward for school clothes. My Aunt made our Easter dresses. It was fun to read your story. How funny...I mean horrifying that your new outfit came the same day. I'm glad you got to keep look so cute. And congrats on the new grandbaby. What a blessing! Hugs!

  3. Is that you in your little coat of many colors? How sweet. I have never heard of the Jewel Tea Man. How wonderful. I love your story. How wonderful though, that people then knew where everyone lived and they kept watch.
    I bet you loved that dress. I love your happy face in that picture.

  4. Oh how cute you were! You look so very happy wearing your jacket of many colors. Oh my! What is it with kids and train tracks? I was incorrigible and hung around them all the time and my own children had at least one major episode of walking the tracks. Your mother knew what you valued and rescued you from the tracks and rat poison! Good for her.

    1. Forgot to say that we had no Jewel Tea Man in my corner. We had the Cushman bread man who was almost as exciting. =D

  5. No Jewel Tea Man in my area either, but we did have a donut truck come around every Sat. (I think) morning.

    You look cute in your rainbow jacket. What a little story that did have a happy ending. A reminder to all of us to remember that 'our sins will find us out'.

    Have a lovely Easter ~ FlowerLady

  6. A lovely trip down memory lane. I've never heard of the Jewel Tea Man before.

  7. That was a delightful story Kimberly! Oh my. I'm glad you obeyed your mother after being caught playing around the tracks. I have never heard of the Jewel Tea Man and I'm guessing this was the US so would be different from Canada. How fun to order something through his catalog and have it delivered. We depended on Eaton's and Simpson Sears catalogs here in Canada for ordering anything and everything. I love the photo of you in your 'coat of many colours'. So nice that a pic was taken. Have a wonderful Easter!

  8. You look so cute in your coat of many colours. I've never heard of the Jewel Tea Man. We ordered things from the Simpson Sears catalogue. The Avon lady was a regular visitor to our house, and the Watkins dealer.
    Happy Easter, Kimberly.

  9. That was such a cute story Kim, and you look so happy and proud wearing your new coat. I've never heard of the Jewel a Man and don't believe we had an equivalent in our area,

    Thanks for stopping by and I can't believe you didn't know I changed names! Lol glad we're back on track.



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