My mother, Lucille Hogan Burkhardt, died 21 years ago on February 5. Among her many wonderful traits — intelligence, humor, kindness, sarcasm and fierce loyalty to her family — she was an excellent writer. In the early 1950s, she penned a column that appeared in the NEWBURGH (N.Y.) NEWS called “The Trading Post.”
I have no doubt that genetics play a major role in my life, and especially with my desire to blog. In her honor I’m sharing a column that is as relevant (and irreverent!) today as it was then. The only difference is that now we are besieged by phone calls, rather than door-to-door solicitors!
THE TRADING POST by Lucille Burkhardt
My one reader has requested that I explain fully ways to avoid people who come around saying, “I am collecting for this or that,” happily expecting you to fork over a fin. Everyone is familiar with the basic technique of locking doors and pulling the shades, or in the instance of a mailing campaign, filing the unopened appeal in a trash receptacle.
However, if you find the canvasser sawing his way through your living room floor, your case is still not hopeless. Get a hobby, a good smelly stinky one. Tanning hides or soap or sausage making are outstanding choices. Give the caller a hearty handshake and slap him on the back, stir your ingredients a bit by hand, then ask to look at his literature.
Some people drop it so that they can finger each reeking piece, but this is unnecessary. The collector is already suggesting that he call when you are not so busy. Just move your brew to the back of the range so it will be handy when next you spot his car.
Another excellent plan is to call the agent’s attention to your dog. Should he agree as to how it is a fine animal, act relieved. Explain that ever since Rover had an unfortunate encounter with a rabid fox, you have been a mite worried because the pup has the earnest habit of going around biting people even though he seems so friendly.
If you are a good talker, get started on your own health issues. Tell how the doctor advised against joining the Book of the Month Club unless you did it on a weekly basis. Even long playing records might prove to be a needless extravagance, as it was quite possible you would not be around to hear the finale.
There are a few other easy methods to avoid a Charity Drive. One that is very popular is to say that you “give in the city.” NEVER MENTION A CITY BY NAME! This has a certain snob appeal. The collector may be pretty certain that you have not left Goatville since the time you were caught in a high wind, but he is not going to let on that he does not know the name of a city in which you might give, if you ever were there, if you ever gave.
A house trailer that can be moved from block to block as the charity drive progresses is a good investment. Small pox signs will keep the most ardent collector at a distance.
The finest method of all, once you have investigated and perfected these dodges, is to get yourself appointed as a canvasser. Nobody will be able to put anything over on you. You will roll up a quota that will be astonishing. If you work hard enough, you might even get to be Chairman of the Drive some day. And no solicitors will ever call at your home!
Lucille Hogan Burkhardt, mother of Valerie Lucille Burkhardt Marier.
She would have been 101 today.