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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Broadway Coal Company

Posted By on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 12:09 AM

For all you bad boys and girls who got coal in their stockings this Christmas — and by that I mean pretty much everybody who reads this column — all I can say is, well that's a damn shame, but you probably deserved it.

But I recently turned up an interesting old sales postcard from the Broadway Coal Company, which will at least tell you the various kinds of coal you received from Santa, and quite frankly the names of this stuff just fascinated me. I mean, at the Mansion the Lauderdales certainly never sullied their hands by actually dealing with coal, or the vendors who supplied it, but gosh-a-mighty I never realized there were so many different types.

If I had to choose, I'd probably go with "Broadway Special Stoker" because it just sounds so, well, special (though a bit pricey at $8.20 a ton). I also like the "Lewis Creek Nut," "Arcola Egg," and "High Grade Pea and Slack" just for their names.

What's especially interesting — to me, anyway — is that Broadway, like so many other coal companies around town, also sold ice. Now coal and ice don't seem to have a lot in common, if you ask me, and this kind of thing bothers me as much as that business of funeral homes operating ambulance services. There's just something unnatural about it.

This card listed the coal available to Broadway customers. I also have a nice postcard (below) in the Lauderdale Library from the same company, which was mailed out to customers who foolishly failed to purchase coal from Broadway. I must say, I admire their professionalism, because they don't give up.

The card actually thanks the customer for taking the time to listen to their salesman — in this case, an "ice man." And then they apply just a bit of sale pressure: "We regret that you cannot use our service at present, but feel that you may find it in your interest to do so."

Doesn't that sound a little like a threat? They continue: "You will find our delivery men capable and eager to anticipate your convenience." Huh? "Anticipate your convenience"? What the heck does that mean?

What they DO mean, I gather, is that if you don't buy coal or ice from us the next time we come around, well ... something might just happen to that nice house of yours.

I know this because of the address: 763 South Lauderdale, which was just down the street from the mansion, and I remember Papa telling me to never ride my scooter past "those coal guys" because they were "rough characters," what with their big coal shovels and ice tongs and all.

Of course, it may have had something to do with the fact that my scooter was pink and had those streamers attached to the handlebars. Sure, I could have chosen a more "manly" conveyance, but I just wouldn't have felt so pretty riding it. Oh, how I loved "Scootie"!




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