Mondays with Melitas

 I am now presenting a new weekly feature called Mondays with Melitas.  Melitas is my 93 year old student and I love spending time with her.  I had the privilege of spending the day with her yesterday and I got to watch golf with her and listen to her read this story to me.  I loved it and I know you will, too!  Leave her a comment after you read this, she reads them all!


For as long as I can remember, I can recall how the JEWEL TEA CO. salesman would come around every month knocking on the door, and then sucker my Mom into buying some thing. Of course, she bought some tea since her Mother and Father …..Granny and Grampa Moore…..had come to live in America from England so tea was very large on the menu at 509 No. Pomona Ave. in Fullerton, CA. Tea in the afternoon, and then tea at dinner time.

There were other things, though, that she would buy: spices and grocery items, cleaning supplies, cookware, china… name it. The Jewel Tea Co. had it. When it came to the more costly items like cooking utensils or glassware, or dinnerware (if she wasn’t getting free dinnerware at the local theater on Wednesday nights) Mom had to spread out the payment at the rate of 25 cents a week so Dad wouldn’t know she was spending all this money on stuff he probably would consider uncalled for. It was Dad that took care of the finances. He would give my Mother the money for the weekly groceries, and big items were a joint shopping effort. So you see, she was having to filch these quarters out of her weekly budget to pay Mr. Jewel Tea Man. She had an envelope in which she put the coin(s) in each week, and then the salesman would mark her payment down on a card to keep the running balance. I guess what my Dad didn’t know, didn’t hurt him.

Dad would be the one to slip my younger sis, Vivian, and me the dimes for the Saturday afternoon movies, and nickels for the ice cream or candy, or even pennies because those pennies bought one of those delicious licorice

whips. How I loved those!

Also lurking around in those early years were the WATKINS salesman and the FULLER BRUSH man; however, I would venture to say that it was Mr. JEWEL TEA getting most of her business.

This routine went on for years. While I was still living at home, Mom gave Viv and me a comb and brush set. That should have come from the Fuller Brush Man. Today, I do not have that set — the bristles wore out years ago, and is lost in the shuffle. After I moved out to do my stint for the WWII effort, and was living in Santa Monica on 19th St. just off Santa Monica Blvd. in a duplex with 4 other ex-softballers whom I had convinced WE had to do something for the war — and especially since my Mom and my Aunt Mae would not let me join the Navy so I could get myself decked out in one of those adorable uniforms — and we were sweating away working at Douglas Aircraft — Mom would add something to her quarter weekly bill and give me another helpful item. One time it was a cooking pot with lid and a separate steamer basket. Now I would say that was a very sturdy pot. It is in my cupboard … as I type this, this very minute at my usual 80 WPM.


In order to understand about the 80 words per minute you will have to find all about this in my Memoir titled “World War II Years.”


Another great, useful gift from Mom was of all things, a make-up type mirror which has regular mirror on one side, and the flip side is the magnifying side. Now one thing is certain: I could NEVER let that get

busted. Just think of the double whammy of all those years of bad luck.

I use that thing every day — to this very day. I think Mom was trying to tell me something — “spruce yourself up with a little make-up.” You know, in those old days I can remember the powder puffs and rouge, but I just never really got into all that. Just not my cup of tea. Oh, oh, there’s that Jewel Tea guy sneaking in for one last mention even though they haven’t been around since 1981. It’s just as well — Mom went to Heaven in 1973 — so

that meant his business must have been slipping, and he was ready to retire, anyway.

You know, I have forgotten about how my Dad passed away in 1943, and so Mom took over the finances, and had her own little check book for thirty years. Now that puts me in a quandary as to how she paid Mr. Jewel Tea. Did she still make him wait for all those quarters out of habit — or did she just sit down and with a great flourish, write him a check for the full amount? — In her most beautiful penmanship, I might add.

I will never know how many quarters she was paying all those years, but there is always a warm feeling when I think about it. And wouldn’t you know, my ancient brain department has just now remembered that the Corning Ware stuff in my cupboard was another gift from Mom.

Another gift she gave: All the love.


Completed: June 16, 2011 Melitas Forster



17 Comments to “Mondays with Melitas”

  1. Oh Melitas, you’ve conjured up so many beautiful memories for me! My mom’s make-up mirror (magnified on one side) was her pride and joy. She also was a faithful patron of layaway departments, where she could purchase things on the sly without my dad knowing about it, just like your mother had a deal with the Jewel Tea man.

    Wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Hi Maggie, Melitas wanted me to let you know that she will be at Happy Hour on June 30th at the 3rd Corner Bistro, I hope if you are not too exhausted you will come out and join us! I know Melitas is very excited that you will be back soon!

  2. I am 73 yrs old, so Melitas would be about my Mom’s age, were Mom alive.

    How I loved Melitas’s story of the Jewel Tea Man. Brought back all those memories of my Mom, who was home bound housewife and other than maybe monthly trips to downtown, via taxi, never got out.

    These vendors, Jewel Tea, Fuller Brush, Watkins, the Helms Bakery truck in Glendale, CA), vacuum cleaner salesmen, etc. were the only visitors she really had.

    What a wonderful time back then (even though we were suffering in WWII) that the doorbell rang, one could open it and welcome “these special friends”.

    As Brownies and Girl Scouts we went all over town selling cookies door to door (even in a multi-storied building with my first EVER elevator and after much consternation, we little girls got in and rode up alone.

    We let these “strangers” in our homes, we knocked on doors of houses we didn’t know … again, often said, but so true … what happened? Is the world really different now? Are there truly more bad people or as some say, “no, it’s because of our instant media and knowledge of everything. The bad was always there, we just didn’t know about it.

    Really??? Then how come we could open all those doors with impunity and live the life we had then?

    It was so wonderful to remember those days of being home with Mom and though I know recall is not all of the reality … it wasn’t ALL good, but even yet – it sure seemed better than the fearful World we live in today.

    Well, I’m not solving the Worlds problems here – but thanks so much for the memories and I’m sorry my own children will never know them.

    Thanks Melita and Tammy,


    • Dear Jozella aka Mom,

      I am one of your children, and we do remember a time like that. We went door-to-door selling our painted brick doorstops for $1, remember? Course I think people thought they had to buy a brick from us or it would end up in their house through one window or the other! We, your angelic children, would have never done that, of course, but we were fine with the fact that our “customers” thought we would. Ding dong! Buy-A-Brick Brigade calling!

  3. Melitas, I will never get tired of hearing your stories!

  4. Melitas, I cannot believe you still have all those gifts. That is amazing. Your ole brain still has an incredible memory…I really need to start drinking tequila on the rocks!

    Thank you for your story! I now have another great thing to look forward to on Mondays! Can’t wait to read the next one!
    Love ya!

  5. Melitas, here is a comment my sister posted on Facebook, that I thought you would like to hear:

    Loved your story Melitas! Looking forward to reading more. Now I have something to look forward to on Monday’s! It’s neat hearing about the salesmen…..I remember when the Fuller brush man would come by when I was little. Thanks for sharing! Sandy

  6. How wonderful. I knew you had been writing and I am thrilled to have read some of it. Great stuff Melitas. I can’t wait for a book!!!!

  7. Thank God for memories. I am enjoying reading about yours. Now, I will have Mondays to look forward to.

  8. Melitas, What a wonderful thing you are doing, and I will anxiously await each Monday for your news. One thing I have of my mothers is a little jar that has a molded face of a man. The jar held some type of mustard way back when. It became my mother’s “egg money” jar. She would see eggs from her flock of chickens, keep it in that little jar and that was her grocery money for he next week. I still keep money in it.

  9. Mel, I enjoy your stories so. Keep them coming.


  11. Dear Melitas,
    I just read your story about the Jewel Tea salesman and loved it! I remember as a child, my mother, would also buy from a salesman that came door to door. I don’t remember what company, but he sold a lot of household items to my mom. My Mom would be 86 if she were alive. Your stories bring back good memories of simpler and kinder times.

    Love, Cheryl

  12. Always love your stories when you would read one in class I found myself with mouth open in amazement and now reading them I find myself mouth open in amazement. I remember the jewel tea man which then brought to mine the Helmans Bakery man. I guess one persons memory triggers another persons memory. Love you my friend. Ceil

  13. Melitas, I’m going to enjoy your Monday memories so much. It’s so fun to picture the twinkle in your eyes as I read your memories. I’m so proud of you. Write on!

  14. Melitas –
    Loved reading your first ‘blog’ – how wonderful to have these memories of your mother and The Jewel Tea Company. And your writing is superb. I can hear your voice telling this story just as though you were sitting right next to me. That is truly a feat! I’m looking forward to reading future blogs.

    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Hi Melitas,
    I am all caught up with your blogs once again. I just spent a most enjoyable time reading your fantastic memory stories. You are so good at it I can visualize being right there in the room with you. Keep the stories coming I love every minute of it, my friend. I feel so blessed knowing someone like you.

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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