Tag Archives: selling

Willie The Ice Cream Man

19 Mar

March 19, 2018

I was going through my last few remaining comics. I once had 32 short boxes full of comics. Each box holds around 200 issues, more or less, so that’s 6,400 comics. But I had many loose ones in stacks on shelves, probably at least three more boxes full, so that’s around 7,000 comics. Over the last few years I sold or gave away nearly all of them. I have just about 65 comics left. Yes, I downsized 6,935 comics.  So those 65 comics amount to around .0085% of what I used to have. But each one has a meaning or a sentimental value. I kept them not because they are valuable (a couple are, most are not) but because they all have a story, not between the covers, but behind them.

To drive home the point, where I once had hundreds and hundreds of Batman comics I now own exactly 5.

These are my two favorites.

Detective Comics 406 and 409, published in 1970 and 1971. In the condition in which I own them they are worth around $15 – $20 each.

But they only cost me 25 cents each, and that’s the background of this story.

It was around 1980, maybe as early as 1978, maybe as late as 1983, but I date it to 1980 because I distinctly remember riding my bike up and down the street pretending it could fly like the motorcycles on Galactica 1980

It was summer, of course. There was no better time to be a kid than in the summer. We had an ice cream man who came every summer day in the afternoon, and when school started he came around a little later after we were home. His name was Willie and we all knew him because we were kids and what kid doesn’t love ice cream? He peddled around the neighborhood on an old fashioned ice cream cart, basically a bicycle with a freezer in the front.

He’d jingle the bells on the handlebars and we’d hear him coming down the block. Since I and my brother lived in an apartment building (we were city boys) we didn’t have time to run all the way upstairs to get money. We’d just yell for our mother to come to the window. “MOM! MOOOOOM!” Half the mothers in the building would look out the window to see if it was their kid yelling. But our mother would come to the window and we’d yell “the ice cream man is coming!” and she’d put some money in a can or a box and she’d toss it out the fifth floor window to us. We never caught it though. We’d always have to crash through the bushes in the front of our building to retrieve it. 

So now we’d yell “Willie! Ice cream! Over here!” and he’d peddle over to us, jingling all the way, to borrow a phrase. But this is the best part. Not only would we get ice cream, we’d get comic books too. Willie had a box somehow lashed to the back of his bike with old comic books. They were old even then, and he sold them for a quarter apiece. 

Was there ever a better summer day? Playing outside, riding bikes, eating ice cream, reading comic books. This is what a kid’s life should be.

So when it came time for me to pare down my comic collection the two Batman issues had to stay. Sure the covers are great, and yes, I like the stories, but I had gotten rid of issues with better covers and better stories. But none of them had a story that I was part of, that reminded me of the days of my youth. There are very few comics that I distinctly remember buying and reading when I was a kid, and not many that put a smile on my face, so these two issues are keepers.

(The Incredible Hulk 216, which I bought new from the corner candy store is another, and yes, I still have that one too.)



And by the way, here are the flying motorcycles I used to pretend I was riding. 


Before I go, one quick ice cream man story. One day Willie was not there, and someone else was driving the cart. He was coming down the block, ringing his bell. We started calling out “ice cream man! Ice cream man!” and waving to him.

He looked at us and, with a big smile, waved back. And kept on going.

We didn’t get ice cream that day. 


So You Want To Be A Traveling Salesman- A Primer (Classic Repost)

26 Jun

June 26, 2012

from December 27, 2007

Congratulations salesman! You have chosen a noble profession, The roots of traveling salesmanship can be traced back to ancient Greece. Ancient salesmen traveled a well worn path between Troy and Sparta selling a primitive form of Tupperware. Sample cases were rather large and heavy, as Tupperware was made mostly of stone. The Romans soon improved on the sales trade and traveling Roman salesmen used castrated slaves to carry their samples. Today’s modern salesman has little use for castratos as samples can be carried in a simple briefcase.


Good salesmen are well aware of demographics, sales trends, and economic forecasts. For example, even the poorest salesman should be able to sell water in a desert. It would take a better salesman to sell water in an urban city. The best salesman would have sold water to Titanic survivors while the ship went down. In fact, Herbert F. Braithewaite did just that and in 1913 was inducted into the National Traveling Salesman Hall of Fame in Utica New York, posthumously. If you go “above and beyond” the call of duty you too may end up as Mr. Braithewaite.

Traveling salesmen have at their disposal a wide array of data upon which to base their sales decision. Often, the decision is based on one simple fact of sales- buy cheap and sell high. What can you buy cheaply and sell high? *

*The National Board of Traveling Salesman does not condone drug proliferation or prostitution.

 Your product should be small and portable, to allow ease of travel, yet large enough to look impressive. It should have a high profit margin and allow for repeat sales. It should be a common item yet also be highly desirable. Some suggestions include encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners, and marital aids.


It has often been said that a good salesman is like a jazz musician- both have plenty of “sole.” This truism has been proven throughout the years. Expect to put many miles on your car and wear out many shoes as you travel the country. Yet you should also expect to see many sites of natural beauty and historic significance. Try to avoid these areas as these are generally low sales zones.

It is usually a good idea to plan your itinerary before hand to make best use of your route. A good route will take you through the most areas in the shortest span of time. For example, a good route through Brooklyn, New York will take you through Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend. A bad route through Brooklyn will take you through East New York.


“Cold calling” is a sales term for trying to make a sale when there has no preliminary groundwork, such as phone calls or pamphlets mailed to the home. Here are some do’s and don’ts for successful cold calls:

– Do not make sales calls at a funeral home during a funeral. It may be tempting due to the great number of people gathered, but sales data shows that mourners generally don’t care to spend money at a funeral, viewing, or wake.

– Do pay attention to the needs of your customers. For example, do not try to sell silverware in a housing project. Do try to sell sneakers.

– Do pay good attention to your appearance. A salesman who has stains on his tie, a wrinkled suit, and a four-day growth of beard may be picked up by the police in higher class neighborhoods.  (Some traveling salesman have seen this as an opportunity. Neville Sanderson in 1971 sold three dozen cases of novelty toy water guns while sitting in the holding room of the Plainsboro Police Department. He was salesman of the month for April, though he was later charged and found guilty of aiding and abetting a mass breakout of prisoners from the same prison using his water guns.)


The creed of the traveling salesmen has always been “integrity.” Despite the hundreds of traveling salesman jokes, the salesman who sleeps with the farmer’s daughter is the exception, not the rule. In fact, the National Board of Traveling Salesmen has been locked on litigation with farmer Rufus Frederick Jones of Wheeling West Virginia and his buxom daughter Josie for spreading the lies of philandering salesmen. Evidence shows that the pies left on their window sill and the advances by young Josie were legal entrapment and the divorce of salesman Paul Collins on grounds or infidelity should be overturned.

Allow me to be the first to welcome you to the world of Traveling Salesmanship. We look forward in the coming weeks to providing you with the support you need in your new career, as well as our weekly newsletter, The Willie Loman Gazette.

Arthur William Rotnac


National Board of Traveling Salesmen

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