When I was a little girl, the Avon Lady used to walk from neighborhood to neighborhood selling her cosmetics, jewelry, and so on…
Our Avon Lady’s name was Cleo.
I remember the pictures of the Avon Lady in ads. She was pretty and young.
Well, Cleo was, well, different than that. I will describe her as I remember her… 60 years old, wore a polyester house dress, had pantyhose that sagged at the ankles, and of course, very practical shoes. She had an accent that might have been southern, but I have not met anyone else that sounded like her since.
Cleo would walk up and down the cul-de-sacs in our neighborhood carrying her heavy Avon Lady bag. With each step she tottered to one side to counter balance the heavy load. She seemed a bit weary as she walked. But when she arrived at the door, she would perk right up.
We children would run into our houses to let our moms know that Cleo was on the block.
I’d peak out as she rang the bell, then Mom would let her in. Cleo would lug that big bag up the stoop and into the front room. Mom would sit on the sofa, Cleo on the loveseat, and I would take my place on the floor, elbows leaning on the coffee table, ready to see what was in the bag that day.
Without fail, Cleo would take out a perfume bottle and the magic words would come out…”Mind if I spray?” Mom never minded. With a push of a finger, perfume was sprayed on Mom’s wrist and she’d always said something like, “Oh, that is nice.” Mom was that way, very kind and hospitable.
Then, the bar of soap would be presented. Without fail, Cleo would say, “It’s very crisp, you know, because it’s French milled.” I’m certain it was French milled, after all, Cleo was an Avon Lady for over 25 years and she would be sure to know her product.
Oh, but my favorite part of the visit was when Cleo would take out the tiny white sample tubes of lipstick. Do you remember those? Just thinking of them brings me right back in time. Mom had six kids and there simply was no money for the luxury of lipstick, so these were little treasures. Mom kept those little tubes in the bathroom drawer and in her purse. Sometimes I would sneak and use some, so I could look pretty too.
The one item Mom did buy was the bubble bath. I can almost smell it now, it ‘s sweet, fresh scent. I’m sure that I used more than my share. I never could resist a bubble bath. I was spoiled that way.
Cleo was part of the fabric of my childhood.