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My father, Laney Lafayette Rich, was born 11 Aug 1902, Eden, St. Clair Co,AL. Although, he had to drop out of school when he was just a child, so that he could work, he had a sharp mind. He worked at several different jobs in his lifetime, including: Coal mining, farming, store clerk, & cab driving. He also, drove a peddling truck, or "rolling store", in the 1940's & early 1950's. The route he worked was in the portion of Talladega Co,AL, east of the Coosa River, taking him through such towns as, Sycamore, Kymulga, Grasmere, Alpine, Fayetteville, Kahatchie, Winterboro, Plantersville, Renfroe, & Talladega Springs. The "peddling truck" was a store on wheels, which explains why it was sometimes called a "rolling store". He started out with a Chevrolete, then a Ford, & finally, a GMC. Shelves lined the inside of the bus on both sides & held staples, thread, cloth & other sewing items. Hoop cheese, eggs, candy, bread, & bologna were also peddled. Kerosene couldn't be hauled inside, because if one drop got on the flour sacks, the entire sack of flour would be ruined. There was a special 50 gallon tank underneath the bus used to haul the kerosene, which sold for 5 cents a gallon back then. My first trip on the rolling store came when i was only a few weeks old. I was told my my mother, Channie Mae Evans Rich, that i was placed in a clothes basket & the two of us went with daddy on his route. At every stop, along the way, folks would have to get a peek at the new baby. Mother would sit the basket down on the steps of the bus, so all could see me. When i was old enough to go with daddy, alone, i was up at the crack of dawn preparing to go with him to peddle his wares. Everybody knew the day & time that the truck would come around & women, men, & barefoot children (black & white)would come running when the "peddler" came into view. Children were especially happy to see him, for this was about the only chance that country "younguns" had to get candy. An assortment of candy & bubblegum cost only cents, which was a lot to folks in those days. The only holiday the truck didn't run was on Christmas Day. He always ran on the 4th of July, because people depended on him for their bread for picnics. They really celebrated the 4th. Merchants in the towns didn't like the rolling store, because it hurt their business. Daddy told them that if it wasn't for his store, a lot of farmers wouldn't be able to obtain some items they needed. The farmer who had to plow his fields or get his hay in, didn't have time to come into town to buy staples. I suppose the "peddling truck" is a thing of the past, but i will always have the memory of riding out into the country and seeing the smiling faces on the people who came running down the dusty road to meet us. The "peddler" passed away 12 Mar 1991.
Dec 01, 2002 · Reply