Almost everyone who has taught school for a living has, at one time or another, found it necessary to do something else to supplement the income. I was no exception. In my early years as a teacher I did everything from manage a bowling alley to selling food freezers, which just happens to be the topic of this little memoir.
In the early 1950s I spent some evenings representing a company that sold Food Freezer Plans. The way that this plan worked had me come to your home and together we would determine your eating habits and estimate what foods you would need to purchase for the next three months. We would then, using your figures, estimate how much you would pay for this. Then I would translate this into your purchasing food from us at "wholesale" prices. I probably would have you order either a whole side of beef or perhaps just a quarter which our butchers would cut up and wrap and freeze. We also would arrange the purchase of cases of frozen fruits and vegetables of your choice. Of course, you would need a freezer to store this, which I also happened to sell -- we had several models to choose from. I would then total the cost, arrange monthly payments and demonstrate that, using this plan, you could save enough money to actually pay for the freezer.
This plan actually could work though admittedly most people's estimates were not very accurate. However, one experience sticks in my mind. I had gone through my whole explanation with a couple and the woman said she had a question. She asked if we sold frozen peas.
"How much do you charge for a package of Birdseye frozen peas?"
I consulted my book and said, "9 cents." (Remember this was in the 1950s)
"Ah ha!” she said as she jumped up and reached under her seat cushion. She pulled out a newspaper displaying a full-page ad showing a local market having a sale of Birdseye frozen food. She was certain the sale price would be less than my price. She looked disappointed and said, "Oh, they have peas on sale for 10 cents."
Apparently this really impressed her as she almost immediately signed the papers and bought a new freezer for $375, plus a three months supply of food. I've always been impressed that this woman would spend that amount of money just so she could buy a package of Birdseye frozen peas for one cent less.
I couldn't help but think that these people must eat a hell of a lot of peas.
The Old Professor
June 30, 2005