The Whizbangs of Oohs and Ahs
America's Salesmen, Their Lore, Lives, and Laughs
by Ronald Solberg
Trade Paper: 6" x 9", 368pp. Seaboard Press. Illustrated. ISBN: 1-59663-545-2, 978-1-59663-545-6, $19.95
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American Social History, Traveling Salesmen, Chicago, Famous Salesman, many illustrations and photos, includes series of one-act plays, Endnotes, Bibliography, Index, Index of Famous Quotations, Author was commissioned by the Newberry Library to research turn-of-the-century labor movement lesson plans.
Ronald Solberg grew up as the son of a Fuller Brush Man. He went on to become a door-to-door salesman, himself, working his way through college by selling brushes, brooms, and waxes during the summer months on the sidewalks and roads of southern Minnesota. Although Solberg would become a high school English and journalism teacher, the salesman bug remained firmly planted. Later, he switched careers, and moved into Chicago-area association and corporate public relations, marketing, and advertising positions. Coincidentally, two of the associations—the Million Dollar Round Table and Institute of Real Estate Management—brought him in touch with some of the most successful salesmen in the world.
Today, Solberg is a social studies and history teacher at a suburban Chicago private school for gifted children. That position would, however, reintroduce him to his salesman “self.” In 2002 he was commissioned by the Newberry Library to prepare lesson plans on a Chicago turn-of-the-century labor movement. Because Chicago has been an important center for merchandising and retail activity, Solberg chose to focus on the salesman—probably not quite the “labor” activity the Newberry had in mind.
While researching the topic, he came to realize that he was actually fulfilling a life-long dream—to compile the details and history of America’s traveling salesmen, thus creating a portrait that exemplifies the country’s best spirit of industry, sunny optimism and faith.