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   Hayes' Herrick Huckster   Written by Marvin Rich and Provided by Carol Smart

The word "huckster" means to peddle or merchandise small items.

The name L.M. (Louie) Hayes was synonymous with the word huckster in Herrick, Il., a villiage of about 500 people located at the south edge of Shelby County. The southern most portion of the village, called Rabbitt Town, spilled over into Fayette County. Mr. Hayes operated a combination grocery and general merchandise store in the late 1930's and early 40's. He enhanced his mercantile operation by establishing huckster routes throughout the surrounding country side, extending 7, 8 maybe 9 miles from Herrick.

He was an extrovert always hurrying, ever busy and business like. Besides being a merchant, he was a Baptist Minister. He and his wife, Jennie (Slater) Hayes lived in a big house behind the Baptist church. Every day he prayed daily in an old barn behind the house. He prayed very long and very loud and could be heard several blocks away.

Mrs. Hayes seemed introverted. She seldom socialized, devoted to motherly and wifely duties. They had 8 boys, who were Nova, Durant, Freddie, Merle  (Lute), Marvin, Lowell (Jock), Kenneth and Lloyd. Also 3 girls named Verna, Veda and Verla.

The sons were key figures in the huckster operation. The system involved 4 Ford V8 truck chassis, each equiped with a special enclosed box type structure or bed designed with a variety of shelves and bins to accommodate assorted groceries and other merchandise. The design also included top-hinged panels that could be propped open to permit outside walk-around shopping and viewing. There was also a doored entrance at the rear with a set of mobile steps permitting inside shopping.

The phrase, "doin' the tradin'" was really more appropriate than the word "shopping", since various farm products such as chickens, eggs and cream were most often used as barter and sometimes sold outright to the grocer. When farm produce was bartered, a cent or two more was allowed per dozen of eggs and per pound for chickens. The eggs were always candled to cull any bad ones, like a rotten egg or one that had a baby chick inside that an old hen had been trying to hatch. A bracket was affixed to each truck structure on which to hang a set of spring type scales for weighing chickens and other fouls being bartered.

A Hayes son was assigned to each truck that covered 5 different routes, one per day, Monday through Friday. There was usually a helper on the huckster to candle the eggs, weigh chickens, prop open and close the side panels of the truck and do other things as required while the Hayes son talked to the customer. There was usually a different helper every 3 or 4 weeks as they were often last minute "pick-ups" off the street, not really interested in a job, certainly not an on going one. The schedules were sensitive to foul weather and muddy roads. A cancelled schedule was rarely made up.