Huckster ©

A Story by Will Jones

“Red ripe New Jersey tomatoes,
three pounds for half a dollar!
Sweet corn, sweet corn, ripe peaches and plums!”

The huckster drove down the narrow alley
calling out his summer temptations,
his strong voice echoing and beckoning
in the red brick canyons like a Siren’s song.
The women poured out the basement doors
in their aprons, their hands wet with dishes and wash,
carrying small snap purses with just enough change
to transform another predictable dinner
into a fresh and sumptuous summer feast.

The tanned huckster, flashing his white teeth
and practiced smile, the one the ladies liked,
his fast hands weighing on a hanging scale,
brown bagging in a magic flash like a shell game carny.
As the women retreated, one by one,
back to their day’s work,
his voice drifted and faded
around the next corner, into the next canyon,

“Red ripe New Jersey tomatoes,
Three pounds for half a dollar!
Sweet corn, sweet corn, ripe peaches and plums!

photo by Ajith_chatie

5 Responses to Huckster ©

  1. Did you know that this poem was published in the local San Luis Obispo newspaper to celebrate April Poetry Month. The inspiration for ‘Huckster’ came to Will when he was cutting lettuce in his salad garden.

    ~ shinazy

  2. For me you created a clear picture. A reprieve for those working women, to come out into the day for such a treat.

    • Will Jones

      I like your use of the phrase “working women.” In my Irish Catholic neighborhood in the fifties the “housewives” worked from sunrise to sunset and beyond. Many of the men had two jobs and were rarely home, so all the child care, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc., was the woman’s responsibility. The huckster was a pleasant summer diversion.

  3. Malati Marlene Shinazy

    Will – Huckster sparked another memory of Philly summer:
    Walk into NJ corn fields, pick and eat fresh sweet corn… no need for cooking. — mms

    • Will Jones

      We used to drive to “the farm” outside the city to do the same. It was such a foreign atmosphere to us street kids that it seemed like another country.