Monday, December 28, 2009

How To Make Family & Friends Hate the Sight of You

(click on image for all the details)

When you're a kid in the 50's and early 60's, you might see a dime per week as allowance, IF you've been a perfect angel for those loooooong seven days.  Working towards this whopping sum involved clearing the table, washing the dishes, drying the dishes, putting away the dishes, avoiding fights with younger sisters AND not complaining about having to go to bed when it was still light outside.

Needless to say, my piggybank was pretty thin.  Ads such as these didn't just show up on boys' comics (this one was with the Fantastic Four comic featured on the right), and after seeing them for several months on the back of my Archie comics (Betty, Betty, always Betty!) I sent away for both the cards AND the "Make $$$, Sell Seeds" catalogs and free assortments.

Soon, every family on my block on Swinton Avenue in Sepulveda California either actually owned packets of seeds or the promise of a box of Christmas cards.  I actually made about $10.00 and thoughts of Schwinn bikes and herds of Barbie dolls danced in my head!  So I ordered MORE SEEDS.  Bad idea.  No one was really going to plant the seeds (they had Japanese gardeners to take care of their yards) and they pretty much threw them away after I'd skipped merrily away from their home.

When they saw me skipping merrily back up the driveway a month later with my display box of seeds, they refused to answer the door.  Even my mother's angry follow-up phone calls failed to dissuade them.  "Marian, come ON.  Nobody plants seeds in this neighborhood.  We were just trying to be nice, you know."

My father bought most of my Christmas card stock and then told me if I ordered anymore I'd get a spanking from my mother I'd never forget.  Then right after Thanksgiving, he sat me down at the dining room table and commanded me to address every single envelope destined for his army of family, friends and business associates.  I distinctly remember sobbing, tears falling onto those wretched envelopes, and hearing Daddy yell, "Goddam it Christine, quit the crying and finish those goddam cards!"

It's amazing that I wasn't completely traumatized by the experience. 


  1. Wow. Your dad really 'planted a seed' as far as entreprenurial dreams go, eh? :) Love this add and the visual of you pimping seed packets in the neighborhood.

  2. I think it's great that you did that! Most kids/people don't get past the "I want it" stage & actually do what needs to be done.

    I'd buy seeds from any kid who came by selling them! Better than candy bars or $15 popcorn, for sure!

  3. Oh that brings back memories! I use to dream of making money by selling the cards, but my Mom always told me no way!!! I slaved for my allowance of 10 cents to a quarter and saved to buy my treasures. Funny how parents will bail you out, hmmmm have I ever done that with mine...DUH of course I have. Enjoyed this walk down memory lane.


  4. I will buy from any KID who comes to me selling... be it cookies, candy bars, magazines or Seeds. Now if it is a parent selling for a kid... I refuse to buy anything.

  5. My best friend Pollyanne and I sold whatever we could find in the house or, apricots, walnuts from our tree. Once we even made perfume. I shudder to think what we put in it, I think it was household cleaning liquids that smelled good to us. There was always the one lady in the neighborhood who bought whatever we were selling. Thanks for bringing that memory back. p.s.I sold girlscout cookies too but I always ate more than I sold.

  6. Great story (and memories)!

    I don't remember those ads, but I do remember going door to door when I was a preteen (we lived rural at that time) trying to sell bouquets of flowers. My mothers friends actually bought them, which looking back, was awfully nice of them considering they all had flower gardens of their own. lol

    I did door to door selling in high school when trying to raise funds for choir trips (candy bars, magazines, etc). I absolutely hated it.

  7. That is reminscent of the Christmas Story. Instead of "you'll shoot your eye out" you got "address those goddam envelopes."

    I only ordered the seamonkeys. I have never been so disappointed as when the floaters looked like the AFTER version of dishwater!

    Yep, I'd buy seeds!

  8. Oh, that makes me reminisce about being about 11 and sending in that Columbia Records "10 records for a penny" offer.

    Was Dad ever pissed that he was required to purchase 4 albums at $10/each over the next year ($10 in the 70s could get you a hotel room!)

    Boy, did I ever get in trouble for that one!

  9. Blimey, that sounds traumatic!

    I, too, used to have lots of get rich quick schemes as a youngster. Oddly, though, none of them seemed really to ever work!

  10. That was very plucky of you, I would have looked longingly at the ad and done nothing!

    What a great story though. And you know I love the ad :)

  11. Your dad was just trying to help you out! Thanks for the sweet comments on my Celeste Holm post honey. I always love to see that you stopped by. I hope you have a fantastic new year. Kori xoxo