During the Great Depression a great number of small businesses were operating in the homes of struggling families. I can recall buying shoes from a Mr. Osborne who lived in the house across from us on Putnam Avenue in Ridgewood.. His apartment was well stocked with shoes for men and boys. There was a Mrs. Graham who operated a ladies dress shop in her living room in a house in Glendale. I got my first glasses from a Mr. Schultheiss, the father of one of my brother's friends, who was operating an optometrist/optician business from his living room.
My mother joined this group when she started to make artificial flowers in our dining room. The flowers were made from Denison crepe paper following the instructions provided with the paper. She made Jonquils, Poppies, Tulips and Apple Blossoms.
The stems were made using wires wrapped with the crepe paper and the leaves were purchased parts; In the beginning of the enterprise the completed flower was dipped in hot wax but later on we abandoned that operation and offered only the paper version.
In addition to helping with making the flowers, I became the door –to- door salesman at the age of 12.. I would place the completed flowers carefully in a clothing store suit box and go to Forest Hills (the ritzy place) by streetcar and visit each house on a street asking the owner or maid to buy my flowers.
One episode that stands out in my mind occurred when the owner of a house came to the door, looked at me and the open box of flowers and said," I don't want any" and then tossed quarter into the box and closed the door. I rang the doorbell again and then when the man returned, I handed him the quarter saying" I'm not a beggar, I'm a salesman" .
He then invited me into his living room where he examined my flowers, selected a few and then gave me a dollar. I became a happy peddler . I visited that house again a month or so later and sold some more.flowers.