Mike Ruby
Mike Ruby
A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

Muscatine Living

As a very young boy, I remember racing to the front door whenever I heard the doorbell ring to see who was standing on our front porch. Sometimes it was a salesman carrying a big black suitcase. He invariably asked, “is your mother home?” and I obediently ran to the kitchen to tell Mother the big news.

One time, the salesman was peddling vacuum cleaners and charmed his way into demonstrating the suction power of the latest model before Mother could politely thank him for stopping by, explaining she was not in the market for a new sweeper. Other times, it was the Fuller Brush salesman and occasionally Mother invited him into the living room. He would open up his suitcase of wares and I was bug eyed watching him and listening to his smooth talk. Sometimes, he left a free gift of a small vegetable brush or lint remover brush. I don’t remember Mother ever making a purchase, but I’m sure she did from time to time.

For many years, our church had an elderly associate pastor whose main focus was to make house calls on the parishioners. The old man (he was probably in his early 70s, but I thought of him as beyond ancient) would park his old black Ford in front of our house, show up unannounced, and ring the doorbell. I knew who he was, so I eagerly invited him inside. No doubt, Mother was in a tizzy because the living room had toys strewn about or her apron had stains on it or she was having a bad hair day, but as a 5 or 6-year-old, I was not aware of her thoughts and feelings. The pastor was always so gentle and kind. Sometimes, he’d ask me questions about what I liked to do, and I always felt special when he gave me attention. He wasn’t selling any product, just showing his Christian love for us, just like he was showing to other families in our church.

How times have changed! Today, when the doorbell rings, we become suspicious and focus on how to get rid of the person as quickly as possible. Many homes have security cameras so the caller is identified before the door is opened. Children are taught to never open a door to strangers and are reprimanded if they break that rule. It’s sad that we must live such highly guarded lives but in today’s society it’s a reality of life.

What memories of door-to-door salesmen do you have?

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