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Guessing this fellow is a member of the U.C.T. or United Commercial Travelers. This was a mutual support organization, a source for low cost insurance and benefits for surviving spouses and children. Being “on the road” was a grueling and on occasion dangerous occupation. And since the salary was dependent on commission, an uncertain livelihood. You’d be surprised how many small and moderate-sized towns had a “U.C.T.” hotel somewhere near the train station. Exactly the sort of accommodation this guy was looking for. Agincourt’s is at Broad Street and Louisa, southwest corner. I hear the Bon Ton Café isn’t bad, either. In any case, he deserves a lot of respect for being part of an important stage of American commerce.

In case you don’t know how this worked, a postcard would arrive at local businesses announcing arrival of a U.C.T. salesman within about a week. He would represent various types of product, ladies undergarments, for instance. On the appointed day, the salesman would set up his sample case in a room specially set aside for that use in the local U.C.T. hotel. That hotel had no direct connection with the organization; it simply catered to their needs for affordable accommodations near the train state. At the appointed time, local merchants arrived to “inspect the goods” and place their orders for the upcoming season. Having transacted a day’s worth of business, he — there may have been women salespeople on the road, but I’m unaware of them — probably set off on the next train for his destination the following morning. A week’s worth of that was about all anyone could take before needing to restore your energy back home. Then, another week or two of the same. I don’t know the lifespan of a typical commercial traveler.

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