Charles N. Crewdson.

Tales of the Road online

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"'Ed,' said I.

"'Well, yo'll have to let me call yo' "Ed." Yo're lots younger'n I am.
I can't do any business with yo' this trip. I have my promise out. I
told the man that I've been buyin' dry goods from that I'd give him my
o'der fo' this fall but I don't think as much of him as I do of you,
and hyeahaftah I am going to give you my business. I know that yo'll
see that yo' house treats me right and I would ratheh deal with a man
anyway that I have confidence in, suh. Now, you needn't hurry, Ed,
about gettin' around hyah next season, suh, because, sho's yo' bawn,
upon the wo'd of a Southern gentleman, suh, yo' shall have my

"You sold him next time?" asked one of the boys.

"You bet your life I did," said Ed. "That man's word was good."

"He was a splendid old gentleman," spoke up another one of the boys.

"Yes," said the clothing man, "I haven't been there for four or five
years. He used to have a lovely little girl that sometimes came down
to the store with him."

"Well," broke in Ed, "I'm glad that somebody besides myself has a good
opinion of her for she is to be my wife next month."

"Well, good luck to you and lots of happiness," chimed in all the

"When once you get the good will of one of those southerners,"
remarked the wallpaper man, "you have it for all time. I don't wish to
wave the bloody shirt - I am a northerner, myself - but these northern
houses somehow don't know how to handle the southern trade. I travel
down in Louisiana and Mississippi, and I really dodge every time that
one of my customers tells me he is going into the house. Once I
started a customer down in the Bayou country. I was getting along well
with him and he was giving me a share of his business. One season,
however, he came into the house. I didn't know anything about this
until I was down there on my next trip. I went to see him, as usual,
expecting at least to get a fair order, but when I asked him to come
over to my sample room he said, 'Now, Jack, I'd really like to go oveh
and do some business but I've already bought my goods. I was in to see
yo' house and when I asked the young man at the do'h to see the
membahs of yo' firm, he went away fo' a minute or two and when he came
back, he said, without bein' at all polite about it, "They're busy." I
didn't say anything mo'h to the young man but I turned on my heel and
went out the do'h. It made me so mad that I do believe the spahks flew
right out of me. I made up my mind I wouldn't have anythin' mo'h to do
with such people and that I would buy mah wall papah in New Yo'k when
I got down theah. Now, I'm mighty sorry about this, Jack, but I really
cyan't pat'onize a conce'n that treated me wuss'n a niggeh.'

"I tried to explain that the members of my firm were very busy, and
that they would have been only too glad to see him had they known who
he was, but I couldn't do anything with the old gentleman because, he
said, that he didn't wish to deal with people that would treat anybody
that way. He said he thought every man should at least receive
gentlemanly treatment."

"And you bet he's right about that," spoke up one of the boys.

"Yes, he was," said Jack. "Still it was hard for me to let go. I of
course didn't say anything more about business to him but there wasn't
much going on that day, although it was Saturday, and we visited quite
a while. You know they always have chairs in the back end of stores
down south and a customer who comes in to buy something is always
asked to have a seat before anything is said about business. It's a
good, old sociable way and although it's a little slow, I like it.
Traveling is pleasant in the south, whether a man does business or
not, because he always receives courteous treatment.

"As we were talking along I asked the old gentleman where his little
girl was that I had seen around the store on previous trips.

"'Well, Jack,' said he, 'I'm pow'ful sorry to tell you but I'm afraid
she's a cripple for life. A hoss threw her and stepped on her leg an'
broke it ve'y badly neah the knee. She has her knee now in a plaster
Paris cast but I'm afraid she'll be lame as long as she lives.'

"Well, sir, she was a pretty, sweet little girl, and when her father
told me about her misfortune I was very sorry for him. He couldn't
keep from crying when he told me about it. I couldn't say much but I
felt mighty sorry. It isn't so bad for a boy to be crippled but if
there's anything that goes through me it is to see a beautiful little
girl walking along on crutches.

"I told the old gentleman goodbye and started down to the hotel. A
block or two away I saw a flower store. I said to myself, 'Well, my
firm has treated my friend wrong but that's no reason why I should
have anything against him. I don't blame him a bit. I'm just going to
send a bouquet up to the little girl anyhow.'

"So over at the flower store I passed out a five dollar bill and wrote
on the card that I sent with the Marechal Niel roses, 'From a friend
of your father's.' "Now, I didn't have business in my eye, boys, when
I did this. It was right from the heart. I was going to Sunday in that
town anyway and get out on a train early Monday morning. There was a
tough hotel in the next town I was to strike.

"That night, while I was at supper, the clerk came into the dining
room and told me that somebody wanted to talk to me over the
telephone. It was the little girl's father. He said to me, 'Jack, I
want to thank you very much for those flowers that you sent up to
Mary. She's proud of them and sends you a kiss; and I want to tell you
that I'm proud of this, Jack, - but just to thank you oveh the wyah
isn't enough. I wanted to find out if you were at the hotel. I want to
come down and shake yo' hand. Are yo' going' to be hyah tomorrow?' I
told him I was going to Sunday there. 'Well,' said the old gentleman,
'I will see you tomorrow mo'nin'. I'll come down befo' I go to

"When he came down the next morning I was up in my room where my
samples were. If I could have sold him a hundred thousand dollars I
wouldn't have asked him to look at anything, but I did ask him to have
a chair and smoke a cigar with me. My samples were in the room where
he couldn't keep from seeing them and after he had thanked me again
and again and told me how much he appreciated my kindness, he fingered
over a line of goods of his own accord, asking me the prices on them.

"I said to him, 'Now, look here, you probably don't wish to price any
goods today, as you are going to church. These are worth so much and
so much, but if you wish to forgive and forget the discourtesy my
house has shown you, - their line of goods is first-class; there's none
better in the country; nothing can be said on that score against
them, - I'll stay over tomorrow and show you.'

"'No, I won't have you do that,' said my friend - he was my friend
then - 'Time is money to a man on the road. If I was going to do any
business with yo' I ought to have done it yesterday. I have spoiled a
day fo' you an' I don't believe the Lord will hold anything against me
if I do business with you today. You know he makes allo'ances when the
ox gets in the mire, so get out yo' book, if you will, suh, - an' I
will give you an ohdeh.'

"Before I was through with him my bill amounted to over six thousand
dollars, the biggest order I ever took in my life, - and do you know,
we finished it in time for both of us to get up to church just as the
preacher was reading his text, and, singularly enough, the text of the
sermon that day was, 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto
you.' I half believe my friend had arranged this sermon with the

"Even if I have lost the twang in my voice," spoke up the southerner,
a furnishing goods man.

"Oh, come off!"

"Lost it?" said the clothing man.

"Yes, I reckon I have. I've been up no'th long enough. Well, people
down in my country are warm hearted and courteous, but all the
goodness in the world doesn't dwell with them. I've found some pow'ful
good people up no'th. Raisin' has something to do with a man, but that
isn't all. We find good men whereveh we go, if we look fo' them right.
Your tellin' about sendin' flowe's to that little girl reminds me of
the time when I once sent some flowe's, but instead of sending them to
a girl, I sent them to a big crusty old man. This man was, to a great
extent, an exception to the rule that I have just laid down. That is,
he was cranky and ha'd to get next to for nearly ever'body, and
sometimes he was pretty rough with me. But I handled him fairly well
and always got business out of him, although sometimes I had to use a
little jiu jitsu to do it.

"Several seasons ago - haven't you heard this story, boys? - I was on my
way up to his town, Deadwood. While I was down at Broken Bow, I got a
telegram from the house which read, "Sam Shoup dead" - that was one
line - and on the next line the message read: "Wood wants goods."

"I thought this was rather funny when I got hold of the message for I
hadn't sold this man Wood for several seasons. He had been a little
slow and the house had drawn on him, and I lost him. But I thought
maybe things were all patched up again and so I hur'ied on up into the
Hills and over to Hot Springs to see Wood. He handled lots of goods
and I wanted to get there before somebody else nipped him. Besides, I
could double back and catch Chadron and those towns along there on my

"I was ve'y sor'y to heah that my friend Sam had croaked. You know,
after a man has turned up his toes you can see a whole lot of good
points about him that always escaped yo' notice befo'; so at Broken
Bow I wiahed the flo'ist up in Deadwood to send ten dollars worth of
roses with my card on over to Mrs. Shoup, that I would see him in a
few days and pay him fo' them. I also sent a telegram to the widow,
extending my heartfelt sympathy.

"Well, sir, when I got into the Springs I had my trunk brought right
up, opened my samples, befo' I went over to see my friend Wood. When I
went into his sto' he said to me, 'Well, Mark, what are you doing
here?' 'What am I doing heah,' said I, 'Why, the house telegraphed me
you wanted some goods.' 'Why, I wouldn't buy any goods from yo' house
if I were a millionaire and could get them for ten cents on the
dollar. They turned me down once good and ha'd and that's enough fo'
me. Where's the telegram? I think you're stringin' me.'

"'No; nothing of the kind,' said I, and I handed him the telegram.
Laugh? I never heard a fellow laugh like he did in my life.

"'Why, can't you read?'

"'Sure! This telegram reads: "Sam Shoup dead. Wood wants goods."'

"'No,' said Wood. 'That telegram says that Sam Shoup, Deadwood, wants
goods. That hasn't anything to do with me.' And do you know, boys,
that's the first time that I could understan' that telegram?

"It was such a good joke, howeveh, that I did jolly Wood into giving
me an o'deh. From the Springs I went right up to Deadwood. When I met
Sam in his sto' he said to me, 'Vell, Mark, vat are you senting my
vife vlowers for, and vat are you extenting your heartfelt sympat'y

"I showed Sam the telegram.

"'Vell, vell, vell. I nefer had a ting to happen like dot in my life,'
said he. 'Now, I know you are my frient. If you had send dose vlowers
while you knew I vas alife, I would have t'ought you done it to sell
me a bill but you send 'em ven you t'ought I vas deat. Ged op your
stuff, Mark, you bet your life I haf a bill for you. I will make it
dobble vat I t'ought I vould. You are de only man dat has proved he
vas my frient.'"

"Did I ever tell you how I got on the south side of Ed Marks?" said
Sam Wood. We had nearly all heard this story before, but still it was
a pleasure to get Wood started, so we all urged him to proceed.

"Well, it came about this way," said Sam, squaring himself in his
chair, as we lit our cigars. "It was in the old flush days, you know,
Goodness! How I wish we had some more mining camps now like Ed's old
town. Business was business in those days - to sell a man ten thousand
in clothing was nothing! Why, I've sold Ed as much as twenty-five
thousand dollars in one season. His account alone, one year, would
have supported me. I know one time he came into our store and I took
him upstairs and sold him the whole side of the house - overcoats that
stacked up clear to the ceiling, and he bought them quick as a flash.
He just looked at them. He said, 'How much for the lot?' I gave him a
price, and before I could snap my finger he said, 'All right, ship
them out. Send about a fourth by express and the others right away by

"Yes, but how did you start him, Sam?"

"Oh, I'm just going to get to that now. I was something of a kid when
I started out west. I've always been a plunger, you know. Of course
I've cut out fingering chips for a long time now, but there was no
stake too high for me in those days. It cost a whole lot of money to
travel out west when I first struck that country. It was before the
time when clothing houses sent out swatches in one trunk. They weren't
such close propositions then as now. They're trying to put this
clothing business now on a dry goods basis.

"Well, I carried fourteen trunks and five hundred wouldn't last me
more than two weeks. I just cashed a draft before I struck Ed's town.
I had heard that he was a hard man to handle and I didn't know just
exactly how to get at him, but luck was with me.

"The night I got into town, I went into the den out from the office.
You know that in those days the hotels would board suckers for nothing
if they would only play their money. I knew Ed by sight and I saw him
standing by the faro table. 'Ah, here's my chance,' said I. I pulled
out my roll and asked the dealer to give me two hundred in chips. I
played him twenty on a turn and then said to the dealer, 'What's your
limit?' The roof's off,' said he. 'All right, 250 on the bullet,' said
I, sliding over. '250 goes,' said he. I lost. I repeated the bet. I
lost again. By this time they began to crowd around the table. I
didn't see Ed then at all, you know, except out of the corner of my
eye. I could see that he was getting interested and I saw him put his
hand down in his pocket. I lost another 250. Three straight bets of
250 to the bad, but I thought I might just as well be game as not and
lose it all at one turn as well as any other way, if I had to lose.
All I was playing for was to get an acquaintance with Ed anyhow and
that was easily worth 500 to me if I could ever get him into my sample
room, and I knew it. Gee! Those were great old times then.

"Well, I planked up the fourth 250, and won. Then I let the whole 500
lay and - "

"You are pipe dreaming, Wood," spoke up one of the boys.

"Jim, I can prove this by you. You've seen worse things than this,
haven't you?"

"Bet your life, Wood," and Jim whispered to one of the boys, 'Wood can
prove anything by me.'

"I let the 500 lay on a copper and I won. From that time on I made no
bet for less than half a thousand. At one time I had the dealer pretty
close to the bank but I didn't quite put him ashore.

"Well, to make a long story short, when I quit I was just a thousand
to the good. Next day was Sunday. There was a picnic out a mile from
town. I said:

"'Well, gentlemen, I've done my best to relieve my friend here of all
he has, but I can't do it. I am a little to the good and I want you
all to go as my guests tomorrow to the picnic. In on this?' said I,
and Ed, among others, nodded.

"I didn't tell him who I was and I didn't ask him who he was. I took
it for granted if he said he would go along, he would. Next day a
whole van load of us went out to the picnic. We had a bully good time.
When we got into the wagon I introduced myself to all the gentlemen,
not telling them what my business was. When Ed told me his name, he
said, 'I'm a resident of this town in the clothing business. Where are
you from?' I said, 'I'm from Chicago and I'm in the clothing business,
too, but don't let's talk business. We're out for pleasure today.'
'Well, that suits me,' said Ed, but when we got back to town that
night I dropped the rest of the bunch and asked him in to supper with
me. Nothing too good for him, you know. And while he was under the
spell I took him into my sample room that night. You ought to have
seen the order that fellow gave me. It struck the house so hard when I
sent it in to them that they wired me congratulations."

"Are you still selling your friend Rubovitz, Johnnie?" asked our
friend, who had just told us his story, of one of his competitors.

"Sure," said Johnnie, "and the boy, too. Yes, why shouldn't I?"

"Well, I guess you should," said Wood.

"Yes! when I was in the old man's store on this last trip, I felt
really sorry for a first-tripper who struck him to look at his
clothing. That fellow hung on and hung on. I was sitting back at the
desk and he must have thought I was one of the partners because I was
the first man he braced and I referred him to the old gentleman."

"Well, wasn't that sort of a dangerous thing for you to do?" asked one
of the boys.

"Not on your life. You don't know why it is I have the old man so
solid. I've got the hooks on him good and hard, you know."

"Well, how's that?"

"Oh, it came about this way," said he. "When I was down in Kansas City
a few years ago, when I had finished selling Ruby, - as I always called
him, you know - (he came in from out in the country to meet me this
time) I asked him how my little sweetheart was getting on. She, you
know, was his little daughter Leah. She was just as sweet as she could
be, - great big brown eyes and rich russet cheeks, black curls, bright
as a new dollar and sharp as a needle.

"'O, she iss a big goil now,' said my friend Ruby. 'Say,' said he,
'who vass dot yong feller in the room here a few minutes ago?' He
referred to a young friend of mine who had chanced to drop in. 'De
reeson I ask iss I am huntin' for a goot, reliable, hart-workin'
Yehuda (Jewish) boy for her. I vant her to get married pretty soon
now. She iss a nice goil, too.'

"'How about a goy (Gentile), Ruby?' said I.

"'No, that vont vork. _Kein yiddishes Madchen fur einen Goy und keine
Shickse fur einen yiddishen Jungen.'_ (No Hebrew girl for a Gentile
boy; no Gentile girl for a Hebrew boy.)

"'All right, Ruby,' said I. He was such a good, jolly old fellow, and
while he was a man in years he was a boy in actions, - and Ruby was the
only name by which I ever called him. Nothing else would fit. 'All
right, Ruby,' said I, 'I believe I just know the boy for Leah.'

"'Veil, you know vat I will do. I don'd care eef he iss a poor boy;
dot is all ride. I haf money and eef I ged the ride boy for my goil, I
vill set him op in peezness. Dot's somet'ing for you to vork for -
annodder cost'mer,' said he - the instinct would crop out.

"Well, sir, I've got to make this story short," said Johnny, pulling
out his watch. "I found the boy. He was a good, clean-cut young
fellow, too, and you know the rest."

"You bet your life I do," said Sam. "Two solid customers that buy
every dollar from you."

"And," continued Johnny, "Leah and Abie are as happy as two birds in a
nest. I don't know but these marriages arranged by the old folks turn
out as well as the others anyhow."

"It's not alone by doing a good turn to your customer that you gain
his good will," said the hat man. "Not always through some personal
favor, but with all merchants you win by being straight with them.
This is the one thing that will always get good will. Now, in my line,
for example, new styles are constantly cropping out and a merchant
must depend upon his hat man to start him right on new blocks. A man
in my business can load a customer with a lot of worthless plunder so
that his stock will not be worth twenty-five cents on the dollar in a
season or two. On the other hand, he can, if he will, select the new
styles and keep him from buying too many of them, thereby keeping his
stock clean.

"Yes, and this same thing can be done in all lines," spoke up two or
three of the boys.

"Yes, you bet," continued the hat man, "and when you get a man's good
will through the square deal you have him firmer than if you get his
confidence in any other way."

"Sure! Sure!" said the boys, as we dropped our napkins and made for
our hats.



Salesmen are told many things they should do; perhaps they ought to
hear a few things they should not do. If there is one thing above all
others that a salesman should observe, it is this:

_Don't grouch!_

The surly salesman who goes around carrying with him a big chunk of
London fog does himself harm. If the sun does not wish to shine upon
him - if he is having a little run of hard luck - he should turn on
himself, even with the greatest effort, a little limelight. He should
carry a small sunshine generator in his pocket always. The salesman
who approaches his customer with a frown or a blank look upon his
face, is doomed right at the start to do no business. His countenance
should be as bright as a new tin pan.

The feeling of good cheer that the salesman has will make his customer
cheerful; and unless a customer is feeling good, he will do little, if
any, business with you.

I do not mean by this that the salesman should have on hand a full
stock of cheap jokes - and pray, my good friend, never a single smutty
one; nothing cheapens a man so much as to tell one of these - but he
should carry a line of good cheerful wholesome talk. "How are you
feeling?" a customer may ask. "Had a bad cold last night, but feel
chipper as a robin this morning." "How's business?" a customer may
inquire. "The, world is kind to me," should be the reply. The merchant
who makes a big success is the cheerful man; the salesman who - whether
on the road or behind the counter - succeeds, carries with him a long
stock of sunshine.

An old-time clothing man who traveled in Colorado once told me this

"I used to have a customer, several years ago, over in Leadville,"
said he, "that I had to warm up every time I called around. His family
cost him a great deal of money. The old man gave it to them
cheerfully, but he himself would take only a roll and a cup of coffee
for breakfast, and, when he got down to the store he felt so poor that
he would take a chew of tobacco and make it last him for the rest of
the day. Actually, that man didn't eat enough. And his clothes - well,
he would dress his daughters in silks but he would wear a hand-me-down
until the warp on the under side of his sleeves would wear clear down
to the woof. He would wear the bottoms off his trousers until the
tailor tucked them under clear to his shoe tops. Smile? I never saw
the old man smile in my life when I first met him on my trips. It
would always take me nearly a whole day to get him thawed out, and the
least thing would make him freeze up again.

"I remember one time I went to see him - you recall him, old man
Samuels - and, after a great deal of coaxing, got him to come into my
sample room in the afternoon. This was a hard thing to do because if
he was busy in the store he would not leave and if he wasn't busy, he
would say to me, 'Vat's de use of buying, Maircus? You see, I doan
sell nodding.'

"But this time I got the old man over to luncheon with me - we were old
friends, you know - and I jollied him up until he was in a good humor.
Then I took him into the sample room, and little by little, he laid
out a line of goods. Just about the time he had finished it, it grew a
little cloudy.

"Now, you know how the sun shines in Colorado? From one side of the
state to the other it seldom gets behind a cloud. In short, it shines
there 360 days in the year. It had been bright and clear all morning
and all the time, in fact, until the old man had laid out his line of
goods. Then he happened to look out of the window, and what do you
suppose he said to me?

"'Vell, Maircus, I like you and I like your goots, but, ach Himmel!
der clooty vetter!' And, do you know, I couldn't get the old man to do
any business with me because he thought the sun was never going to
shine again? I cannot understand just how he argued it with himself,
but he was deaf to all of my coaxing. Finally I said to him:

"'Sam, you are kicking about the cloudy weather but I will make you a
present of a box of cigars if the sun does not shine before we write
down this order.'

"The old man was something of a gambler, - in fact the one pleasure of
his life was to play penochle for two bits a corner after he closed

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Online LibraryCharles N. CrewdsonTales of the Road → online text (page 14 of 19)