Horacio Alger was wrong; all people(s) cannot get ahead. The Protestant work ethic was wrong; there are not jobs for all the people(s) of the earth who need a job. And for those who cannot work in today’s world, there is not even much pity, certainly little quality of life. But the propaganda of the West glorifies work – even when there are no jobs.
This isn’t a minority story; there are different minorities everywhere. This is thinking back to when there was no help on Earth except one’s own works. Just a few decades ago in the best of places, and today in much of the rest of the world, countless people struggle and have little hope of being able to make a living – or even just survive.
Horatio Alger might as well have been a propagandist to tell people to be happy with their lot, and that if they fail, it is their own fault. Algerism told us the magic of success will come if you just work hard. Wrong.
We have sold this capitalism, this Algerism, and now there seem to be calls from all around the world; the buyers/believers are claiming on warranty coverage. It doesn’t work. There are not jobs to go around. And now we have not just millions who are angry about not having that job and the successful life with a home and mortgage and cars and wives and children and vacations. There are coming to be billions of people(s) with no chance of success.
I remember visiting, semi-camping, in a desert community in the Middle East, an impoverished community. At night the local store turned into a sit-in theater. Folks from all over sitting around the store watching the small television on the front of the cash counter. Children, teens, adults and old people watching. Was it the American TV show Dallas or Dynasty? Star Trek was another show that went around the globe. So, the wider world is taught that success means rich things and rich living and being nasty to anyone you can’t use. And space aliens will get you eventually anyway.
Today the story goes around that it is immigrants – wherever you are, East or West – new people, foreigners, who are to blame. Not rich people, it can’t be their fault.
In the past, Alger’s works taught us to think of failure as the person’s own fault.
In 18th century genealogy we see the rise of the merchant class, and then come the salesmen, traveling salesmen. They were organized even in the 19th century. The United Commercial Travelers had organization, offices, and they knew how to sell their products – insurance and souvenir trinkets, pens, watch fobs, stationery.
And many of the products had trinkets to entice buyers. Trading cards for sport, military and patriotism for candy or tobacco. Often the candies were more like cough drops than mints and held a drop of alcohol at least for the flavor. Flour and oatmeal and whatever gave cloth and dishes.
The salesman, rather salesmen, in my family sold everything from book subscriptions in the 19th century to candy drops, tobacco and baking powder into the 20th century. Harry Hutton Kidd made the newspapers selling Chicago World’s Fair subscriptions, whatever on earth those were, and he was following in his father’s footsteps. John Edward Kidd Jr. was selling book subscriptions from Cedar Rapids to Chicago to Marquette to Michigan’s Copper County and back around again.
Old newspapers are my favorite tool for fleshing out our ancestors, their families, their friends and neighbors and work associates, and everything they all did. As traveling salesmen, they would set up shop in a local hotel and place ads in the local newspapers to sell their wares.
But searching in newspapers has its pitfalls, and my Kidds are a great example. If you are searching for a common surname, like Jones or Smith, or searching for a name with a double meaning like Mason, Thrasher, Money or Kidd, then you will have countless hits in the papers and have to weed out more than a fair share of material.
As a Kidd descendent, I know of every Captain Kidd story that ever went around the world. Even our family artist, Uncle Sherman, commented in his application for a legal name change about the surname Kidd being used in jest. He painted satyrs and pirates. I wish I could ask him more.
Especially in times of hardship, recession and even depression, I cannot imagine what life would have been like for a traveling salesman. This work was for the benefit of manufacturers, who must have offered some support. But still they were out there begging door to door to benefit rich people. I don’t know if all the companies the Kidds worked for produced riches for rich people, or that the riches lasted, but they pounded the pavement for others.
There have always been buyer incentives. Today the bank might give luggage or toasters or… 0% of something. Yes-ter-year it was trading cards and jelly glasses and washcloths. The salesmen carried them across the country and then the world. Today we order off the internet and soon items will be delivered by drones. Incentives? Sure… I love Wikibuy!
So much memorabilia…
John Edward Kidd
Ridpath’s Publishing 1892
New York Life 1895
What could searching out memorabilia do besides deplete the bank account? The search of some of these companies for Harry Hutton Kidd by our cousin T La Luzerne produced this wonderful photograph. But we get more than this page with Harry pictured and named.
Maybe kickapoo was a “thing” at that time. I do not see owners for the time, but soon afterward General Foods bought Calumet. The salesmen’s jobs had been a success for the owner who got $32 million, and there was no need for salespeople anymore – not like before. And besides the Great Depression was creeping up. I am not sure when Monarch was acquired, but the company that took my life from me turns out to own them. See my story on R J Reynolds.
Does anyone know when or where Harry Hutton Kidd died? Are there fun stories of these companies or others to share? Leave your fave newspapers and company stories for your ancestors if you like.
J. P. Annen (cough drop) Candy Company 1896
American Tobacco Company 1899
Monarch Tobacco Company 1901
Calumet Baking Powder Company 1921
I just love all newspapers, but for USA newspapers and a very user-friendly website, this is hands down the best of them all:
We have multiple y-DNA testers for Kidd, several generations confirmed for our family of Kidds. y-DNA Haplogroup R1a