Old Home Café: The Next Generation

By Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr.

Episode XXII: Fast Food

(Originally published in The Legend-News of 2003 August 11.)

Travelling salesman once were ubiquitous. Wal-Mart didn’t have a store in every small town in America ’way back then. If you wanted to buy some of that “big city"” stuff you had to order it through the Sears Roebuck or Monkey Wards or Penneys catalog, and a couple of weeks later you'd pick up a package at the Post Office. No trips to the local shopping mall were necessary; heck, the local shopping mall hadn’t even been invented.

Or you could wait for the Fuller Brush man, or the Hoover vacuum man, to pass through your town. He’d knock on door after door, inquire for the lady of the house, and if invited in would demonstrate his wares. Brushes for your hair, your dog’s hair, your horse’s hair, and even brushes for scrubbing the floor. If you had carpeting — a large rug would suffice — the Hoover man would show you how well his product could suck the dirt, dust, and detrius out of any floor covering. And then there were the Bible salesmen, but that’s a story for another time.

In 2003, door-to-door selling was dead. If you wanted something, you could pick up a phone and order it, or find a store on the Internet; or you could drive to a mall, somewhere. That’s why Jon Bach was surprised on that Wednesday afternoon, when Harry Pastor entered the Old Home Café and announced “you need an Auto-Dog!”

“An Auto-what?” asked Jon. He wasn’t certain that he’d heard correctly. The words “auto” and “dog” had never, in the history of mankind, been uttered adjacently in the same sentence.

“Auto-Dog!” said Harry, loudly. So loudly, that Larry — who was in the kitchen with the radio blasting — stuck his head out through the serving window to see what was the noise. “The most perfect, automatic, hot-dog preparation machine that was ever invented!”

To be continued…

Next: The world’s only

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