Sunday, May 3, 2015

Getting Down to Civin Business

Towards the end of 1932, an operating plan was established to try to nurture Civin’s Specialty Shop into a reality. My mother would stay in the store, and my father would travel to some of the outlying towns and peddle clothes out of a car. About this time, my Uncle Nathan decided to leave the fledgling business and try his luck in New York City. Uncle Nathan will reappear a little later in this story. Let’s get back to my father, the ex-dress manufacturer from New York, becoming a peddler.

I don’t think my father was too anxious to become a peddler, but mother said that if my father would not go on the road, she would. With that threat, Dad was to become a peddler, but it was not to be that easy. My Dad neither knew how to drive, nor did he own a car. My father purchased a 1926 Dodge Brothers touring car. A touring car had a roof, but where the windows were supposed to be would be nothing, just open sides. In the winter you attached side curtains from the top of the doors to the roof.

Now that the business had a car, my father had to learn to drive it. When my father came to Spencer, he found a man there by the name of Eddie Cragan. Grandpa had served in the 306th Infantry in France in World I with Mr. Cragan. All I know - other than my father and Mr. Cragan were Army buddies – was he was a bachelor, he was a streetcar motorman, and he drank a lot. With Mr. Cragan’s help, my father learned to drive. After six tries my Dad was issued a license and he started his road business. He sold clothes out of his car in Barre, Gilbertville, the Palmer Villages and Warren. He was a peddler for the rest of his working days. I think he enjoyed it very much.

I have been told that, when Civin’s was first established my mother used babysitters to watch Bob and I while she minded the store. I had a few sitters, but I am told one of the best was a teenager by the name of Blanche Carbonneau. Blanche later married Carl Berger and a number of years later they started Berger Oil Co. Carl has been deceased for about 20 years, but Blanche Berger is still alive and in her 80s. I still buy fuel oil from the Berger Co., though it now belongs to E.T. Smith Co., a large Worcester oil dealer.

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