Monday, October 19, 2009

Cookie Crumbs and Ethics

My dad was a traveling salesman.

His wares of choice were common everyday items that most everyone could enjoy having at their ready. I will dare say that a few sold better during specific seasons simply due to the way each was manufactured.

Now mind you the seasons here in Texas are as follows: Hot and not quite as hot.

The biggest difference in the two are like night and day....kinda like when the sun goes's not quite as hot. But still, the heat of the seasons did play a part into the success of whether or not my dad had decent sales or not.

My dad was a route salesman for a couple of different cookie companies...and he traveled the country roads of East and Southeast Texas for many, many years.

Just to clear up the seasonal sales statement, chocolate covered cookies didn't do really well in the hotter months, so these were obviously a 'hot' item come the fall and winter months...and the fact that we didn't make many night time runs to stock the stores shelves will support this.

Mrs. Shelby's Cookies and Little Brownie Cookies are the brands that brought me through my childhood. You could say that I was raised on stale cookies....probably more than I like to admit.

My dad would use me and my brothers as his own personal "in house" test survey to determine if a new product was going to sell or not. He would soon know whether or not to push the new 'taste' to his customers.

It was late 1964 when we left Beaumont and headed north to Jasper, Texas. The Little Brownie Cookie company wanted to expand into the area where a new Corp of Engineers project was in its final stages of completion.

Hello Lake Sam Rayburn reservoir.

The largest man-made reservoir inside the boundaries of the great state of Texas. Little did I know then, what type of impact this body of water would have on me and my life this far down life's highway. (you did read about me and my love of bass fishing didn't you...?)

I rode with my dad in his cookie truck through many summers. Making the so called stops at the hundreds of Mom & Pop stores to restock the shelves. Taking in the memories of the screen doors emblazoned with the popular Rainbo Bread logo or the infamous Triple 'XXX' Root Beer that called out to a young boy thirsting for refreshment.

My dad's route covered so many little roadside stores, I still find myself wondering when I pass by an abandoned building along the many miles of familiar roads; if it in fact once housed a set of shelves where a mild mannered father would place his offerings of treats for the public...while his son would go in search of and find the owners old hound dog to pet, or pay a lay-away installment on his first .22 caliber single shot rifle that he still has today, or actually help in rotating the stock of cookies with the freshest in the back, or question where we were gonna eat lunch that day.

Yes I spent a lot of time on the old step-van cookie truck, having to ride sideways on the motor cover and try not to stare at the ever disappearing white stripes on the roadway...double checking with my dad to see what set of license plate numbers we were looking for next.

This was a game he played endlessly to keep his mind occupied. Always looking for a triple set of numbers on the license plates of the thousands of automobiles either coming or going....111 , 222, 333, BUT you had to go in proper order and keep your own list.

This must be where I first learned of and about ethical behavior.

Hey thanks Dad. Thanks for the little things.


  1. Now that is a GREAT story. Award winning. Hey there is a magazine that Lanell queried that would accept this. I can't think of the name. Jess told us about it also. This has GOT to find a home. Holler at them and see if they remember I'll go through my old e-mails. Thanks sooo much for sharing. I could almost taste those cookies. My dad use to treat us to the "day old" pastries at an Italian bakery in the North end. Barranco's I believe it was. We never complained.

  2. oh yeah...the bakery on East Lucas near Magnolia I believe...they did have some good stuff. My best memory of sneaking out early morning was going down to Barnett's fried pies on 4th street and for a thin dime, you could get one hot off the cooling o man...thanks for checkin in on me Debra...


  3. Ditto the kudos, Mr. Chambers. You should at least consider submitting this entry and the following entry.

    You done good, Jake! Hope the shoulder's doing as well as your writing.