True, those days might have been hoppin' and boppin' all right, but back then Americans readily opened their front doors and their homes to the Fuller Brush Man, milk man, house-call-making doctors and that newest of necessities, the TV repairman.
Here in the 21st century however, entire generations have absolutely no recollection of such convenient door-to-door service. Too bad they never lived in Roachdale.
On April 4, the business will become Muse Heating & Cooling, an enterprise the couple have been operating out of their home the past three years. However, before they settle into the building at 14 E. Washington St., Roachdale, a retirement celebration for Pat Allen will be combined with an open house to meet the Muses and enjoy some refreshments from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. Cards and well wishes are appreciated.
"This is my baby, and Brandy said she would take care of it for me," Pat Allen said as she reminisced about her late husband Bob opening the business, making house calls, picking out appliances for customers and serving as a small-town repository for memories and good times.
"It's just like a doctor being on call 24 hours a day," she smiled. "But I wouldn't trade all those years and those memories for anything."
She recalled her husband often making needed repairs for people who didn't have the money to pay and settled their bills with pies or cakes. Or the myriad of things Bob would end up doing for his loyal customers, like changing tricky lightbulbs or hooking up VCRs and other appliances without asking for anything extra.
Pat, who turned 75 in January, can even remember the very first TV set the Allens sold.
"We started out when color TV was just coming in," Pat recalled, and I remember we sold a big, old console set to Gene Hutchins."
At the time, Bob used a station wagon to make his TV repair calls, so it was a real chore to load the monster set (a piece of furniture for all intents and purposes) onto the car's tailgate for delivery. Pat remembered having to hold onto the set while balancing herself on the tailgate as the Allens made their first TV set delivery.
The Allens also came up with a nifty piece of creative marketing they revived each New Year's for several years.
"Every New Year's Eve we would load up all the color TVs we had in the store and deliver them around town so people could watch the New Year's Day parades in color," Allen said. "We ended leaving eight or nine of them right where we delivered them because people ended up buying them."
Many a time, she said, Bob would go out on a call and pronounce last rites for the family's old RCA, Zenith or Admiral. Roachdale residents trusted the Allens enough that they'd just tell Bob to "bring us another TV."
Pat Allen says she raised her family at the store. Daughters Penny Long, Coatesville, Pamela Jeffries, Baltimore, Cindy Burns, Crystal River, Fla., and son Heath Allen, Danville, wouldn't have had it any other way.
"Mom and dad grew up in Roachdale," Penny Long recalled. "They have been there forever. I think my mom said she raised us kids by way of the store but you know it was never a burden. We always knew where mom and dad were and the shop became a huge part of our family. It was like our second home.
"I remember we got a dime a day," she added. "We would walk home from school and check in the shop after school, then we'd go down to Irwin's drugstore for a candy bar and a Coke."
That is the small-town legacy the Muses are inheriting. Pat Allen laughs that she "handpicked them" to take over the business.
"I'm leaving it in good hands," she said. "When Bob died six years ago everyone thought I would give up the shop, but it kept me going."
Penny Long, whose husband Jerry also helped with deliveries and other duties in recent years, agreed and called the end of an era "bittersweet."
"After my dad passed away (in 2005), it has been a lifesaver for mom and many of the widowed people in town (many of whom comprise the Puzzle Club that meets in the back room). It has been a blessing to our family and will be missed."
The Muses plan to keep the appliance store open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily with the Muse Video store closing at 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends.
And Pat Allen? What will she do now after 56 years of calling the shop home?
"Flea markets and yard sales, here I come," she said.