Anyone living on a farm in the 1950s and ’60s can remember that part of every farmer’s daily routine usually involved an encounter with a salesman.
There were feed salesmen, seed salesmen, machinery salesmen, livestock salesmen, anything a farmer needed there was someone likely to pull into the yard trying to sell it.
There were a few salesmen that either because of what they were selling or because of how they conducted themselves who were welcome.
But for the most part, many of them were nuisances.
I remember when we were baling hay one summer, once the hay was baled, you could see tire tracks in the field. I asked my dad how those tire tracks got there.
He said just as he finished seeding the field a salesman, who didn’t want walk to where he was seeding, drove to him on his freshly seeded hay field.
He told the salesman those tire tracks would show up in his seeding and that the salesman should have known better. The salesman didn’t think he had done anything that bad.
Whatever that salesman was selling, I don’t think my dad wanted any of it that day.
My uncles, because of the size of the farm they were operating, were continually buried (meaning behind) in their work. They were a mark for everyone selling anything.
A salesman to them meant a complete waste of time, no matter what they were selling.
After a while they would buy something to get rid of the salesman. It’s the same concept as feeding a stray dog so he will go away with the same results.
The dog never leaves and the salesman knows where he can make a sale if he waits them out.
There was a persistent tire salesman in the early ’60s who called on my dad and uncles. My dad would buy a tire if he was in need, but for some reason my uncles would buy more than they needed.
When I moved onto my uncle’s farm in the mid-’70s, we were mounting brand new tires that were more than 10 years old. I bet there are still some in the machine shed even now.
If it is a Pennsylvania brand tire, that is the one.
A few, make that very few, salesman became so liked they would be invited in for morning coffee.
We had a feed truck driver named Bob who made deliveries of hog and cattle feed to our farm.
I remember him as a talkative and interesting man who could tease my sisters and me without mercy.
Bob delivered feed to my dad for years, always driving a recent Chevy truck.
I was more interested in Bob’s truck than I was in Bob, but listening to Bob was the price I paid so I could admire his truck.
When I returned to the farm, Bob was now a feed salesman, arriving on the same day each week.
He was still the same Bob as when I had grown up and I enjoyed his company.
We bought cattle feed from him clear through the early ’90s until we quit the cattle business.
He lived in a town about 40 miles away and once every two or three years our paths would cross and give us a chance to catch up on news.
The farm crisis of the ’80s pretty much brought an end to having salesmen pull into a farmer’s yard.
Farmers were lacking money, farms were disappearing, and so did the retail businesses that depended on the farmer.
It was just one of the many changes the farm crisis brought that lets people my age say, “I remember when “
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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