Hot coffee and biscuits!

After ten years of playing the critic, I’ve never ceased being a fan of advertising. Too much of the industry frustrates me to no end, but I still love good persuasion. I love witnessing it. I love doing it. Then this week it dawned on me that my family – beginning in 1883 – spent 75 years persuading people to buy from Van Eman Bros. Hardware in Canonsburg, PA. They were the Lowe’s of little town, USA, and it seems they were pretty good at their trade.

Is advertising somehow in my blood? I don’t think so. At least, not simply because retail exists in my ancestry. But when I found the following letter in a box of old family items, I had to admit some excitement.

In short, my great-grandfather Sam and his brother J.J., joint proprietors, had sent their newspaper ad to the Robeson Rochester Corporation to show off the store’s promotion of a new line of coffee percolators and stoves. The salesman from RRC was, needless to say, excited. Here’s his reply:

(Click on the image to see a larger size)

Taking advantage of “women folks” like that. How dare they!  ;)


Melissa,  November 8, 2010 at 9:00 PM  

What a great connection with your ancestors! They were pioneers in advertising, and now you study, analyze, and speak about the subject! And the "taking advantage of women" point is all too true, isn't it? Free food and coffee? Who wouldn't buy it? =)

Sam Van Eman November 8, 2010 at 10:45 PM  

I was thrilled to find this, Melissa.

Douglas Dahl November 15, 2010 at 10:02 AM  

Great letter. Thanks for posting. They actually wrote the word "scheme". I would love to see someone honestly put that word back into some of our companies marketing "information".

Sam Van Eman November 15, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

Good observation, Douglas. Sounds so negative, like "scheming," though I don't think it's a bad word necessarily.

Bradley J. Moore November 18, 2010 at 8:06 AM  

How cool is that! And no typos in the letter! Your women-folk must be very proud.

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus November 19, 2010 at 1:36 PM  

I can almost hear the women-folk ooohing and ahhhing over those shiny new appliances, with their homemade biscuits in hand.

Fun post, Sam.

Sam Van Eman November 19, 2010 at 3:04 PM  

And that was in 1923, Jennifer. I take electrical appliances for granted and can't imagine what a novel thing this might have been.

Deidra November 22, 2010 at 3:26 PM  

"women folks" and "the boys" oh my!

Cheryl Smith November 23, 2010 at 1:51 PM  

What a treasure, the letter as well as your heritage. Very cool!

Sam Van Eman November 23, 2010 at 6:02 PM  

Cheryl, it took until late college before I could appreciate some of my heritage. Before that, I only knew the bad stuff.

Funny how an impression of your family can change over night.

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