Ding Dong, Avon Calling!

Day 18 - Inktober Watercolor Avon Harvest Corn Lotion Bottle - Doodlewash

So, this might just be one of my oddest answers to a prompt to date. I wasn’t sure what to sketch for the Doodlewash prompt of “corn” so I combined it with the Inktober prompt of “bottle” and ended up going back in time. This is a doodlewash of a now “vintage” lotion bottle from Avon that’s shaped like an ear of corn. This was a rather popular item at the time, and I would see it not only in our home, but in most of our neighbor’s homes as well. This was all because of Mary, who lived at the end of the street, and was our local Avon lady. She would go door to door like a Halloween tricker treater, but instead of begging for candy, she had wondrous things to sell. As a very little kid, I couldn’t pronounce my “r”‘s correctly so I somehow started referring to her as “Meanie” instead. She wasn’t mean at all, of course, which made it even funnier. Instead, she was a burst of cheer and energy that was almost overwhelming in its intensity. And judging from the sheer volume of Avon Golden Harvest lotion bottles adorning every single bathroom on our street, she was quite good at her job. And today, I still have wonderful memories of this little accessory reappearing each and every fall.

I enjoyed getting those visits from “Meanie” as she appeared with her robin’s egg blue box of apothecary samples. Nothing in the box ever really appealed to me, but I enjoyed seeing my mother become enraptured with some things while sly dodging Mary’s attempts to woo her on others. It was a fun dance of bold saleswoman against my impossibly sweet, yet thoroughly stubborn mother. Seeing any bit of trepidation, Mary would launch into a prepared speech about the wonders of whatever product she was set on selling. Her voice would grow louder and more dramatic as she got to the best, most amazing features the product had to offer. I honestly didn’t understand a thing she was prattling on about at the time, but I was entranced by her presentation. She was just that good. Years later, I would mow her lawn for her to get a bit of extra money during the summer. Seeing her in her own home, relaxed, and sometimes without her perfectly quaffed wig, was often a bit startling. Who was this second person and which one was the real Mary?

Today, as we all juggle our real lives while trying to stay on top of our social media commitments, I finally realize the answer. That Mary I met in her home was likely the truest version, but that boisterous woman who would come bounding into our house was very much Mary as well. People are multifaceted and fascinating creatures. Long before personal computers and social media, we’ve always known how to affect various personas in order to fit in. That version of ourselves that only our spouses see, or perhaps that harmless boy who mows our lawn, is always with us. Even when we make every effort to adopt the “best” version of ourselves, the real version is always there to supply the real charm. And though Mary is no longer with us, I still remember her charisma to this day. A beautiful mix of woman on a mission and woman just wanting to take a break from it all. The two of them balanced to make a beautifully perfect pair. Decades later, I can only hope to achieve that same wonderful balance in life. Mixing truth and aspiration as she mustered all of the courage she could to show up each day to share her wares and sing, “Ding Dong! Avon Calling!”

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermilion, and Indigo (my “Vintage” Trio!). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Day 18 - Inktober Watercolor Avon Harvest Corn Lotion Bottle_IG
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

24 Comments
  1. June Hadaway 1 month ago

    Ding Dong!! Lol I remember the Avon lady…my mother was one for a short while subbing for her friend and I subbed for a friend who was away for a year. It happened to be in my subdivision so it worked out well. I made sure I had pet treats in my bag of samples because they were the first one on the other side of the door. I think I spent more on pet treats than what I actually earned in sales that year. I also remember this Harvest dispenser bottle. Yours looks just like it. Love it

    Your story is one of the best yet!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, June! 😃💕 Yay! I’m so thrilled you remembered this one! And that’s awesome that you had pet treats on hand… hehe… Phineas would be especially pleased with this tactic. Not worrying at all, that you probably dented your profits! hehe 😉

  2. Mary Roff 1 month ago

    Love the bottle! I don’t remember who the Avon lady was but do remember her leaving tiny lipstick sample tubes. My sister sold Avon for a short amount of time and I still have a couple of Avon Christmas ornaments that come out every year.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Mary! 😃💕I loved this bottle… it was just so over the top! Probably why I loved all of those Avon things. Lots of wonderful memories there!

  3. dodiemccandless 1 month ago

    I love this visit down memory lane, I am a hairstylist and even though I love sharing my helping my customers become who they want to be in the mirror, i have never liked the selling end of life. Yet I still see myself in Mary. Thanks o and awesome bottle

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Dodie! 😃💕I’m so thrilled you saw yourself in Mary, that would mean you’re a rather wonderful individual! 😉

  4. Lisa 1 month ago

    My grandma Mabel was a big Avon can I still remember the round powder bowl with the big puff in it. I loved taking a bath at her house so I could powder up to excess afterward. And the other thing Avon had was little sample lipsticks. Those were the days when grandma would give us the ones that she didn’t care for or had mostly used. Nothing fancier than a 10 year old with bright red lips and trailing powder around the house in an impromptu fashion show.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      haha! I love that story, Lisa! 😃💕The very idea of your 10 year old self bounding down in the street in her Jungle Red lipstick is rather awesome!

  5. smzang 1 month ago

    Charlie says, “People are multifaceted and fascinating creatures.”
    and Charlie is ever so right.
    That painting takes me back. It is a perfect rendition.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Sarah! 😃💕 I love that even though how multifaceted we are, we can still come together when it comes to memories!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 1 month ago

    Great detail on a cool vintage object! I don’t remember this particular product, but I remember the crazy items in their catalog.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, I wasn’t sure how many people would remember this one. But it’s very like many of the things you might find in that awesome Avon catalog!

  7. Patricia Lacanne 1 month ago

    belle imagination bravo

  8. LoriCtoo 1 month ago

    Forgot all about the Avon lady coming to our home. Of course for us girls, there were always tantilizing things. Oh how I miss my rubber frog that floated on his back and held my soap. Thank you. 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      haha! Awww the rubber frog was awesome! 😃💕 Love that memory! And glad you enjoyed this trip down memory lane!

  9. Linda Murray 1 month ago

    Oh Charlie! I about fell out of my chair when I saw your painting! I have that bottle, which I “saved” from a throw away pile, after my mother-in-law passed away. That ear of corn is so spot on for the state of Iowa, I couldn’t resist keeping it. Your painting is perfect! I remember the Avon lady visiting with mom and her bag of magic 🤣 and those tiny tubes of lipstick. Every little girls dream! Thanks once again for the memories Charlie!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      That’s so awesome to hear, Linda! 😃💕 I actually received notes from several friends how said they too rescued this object from the throw away pile. Yay! I loved this thing… hehe… I’m thrilled to know I wasn’t alone. And yeah, being a boy, I didn’t get to experience those tiny tubes of lipstick, but being an artist, I loved seeing those colors!

  10. Sam 1 month ago

    I was so excited to see this in my Feedly feed! My mom and I found one of these bottles at a local thrift store. It was perfectly empty and clean, so my mom bought it, brought it home, and filled it with hand soap for our kitchen sink! It’s beautiful as is (she filled it with a light, pastel yellow colored soap, so it looks even more like corn) with it’s delicate, shimmery sheen and the glint of glass, but it also just happens to look fantastic in a farmhouse kitchen among other farmhouse decor. Your rendition is SPOT ON! Love this trip down your memory lane to accompany it as well. <3

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Aww that’s SO awesome, Sam! 😃💕 Yay! I adore that story! These were just SO cool! If I stumbled across one today I would certainly buy it. This was practically an icon in the bathroom when I was growing up. hehe

  11. Sandra Strait 1 month ago

    Ah, your painting brings back the memories. Oddly, it was my father who was enamored of these Avon bottles, though he purported to buy them for my mother. We couldn’t afford to buy all them new, and my mother seldom wore perfume, but he’d be driving past thrift stores and stop to see if he could find any bottles he didn’t have. Mom would go so she could make sure he didn’t spend too much. Mom ended up giving them all away somewhere along the line. Too bad, because some would have probably been worth a little bit.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Yeah, those bottles were amazing… such wonderfully fun designs. I don’t have this one, but now I’m wondering if my mother still does somewhere. hehe… no idea if they’re worth anything, but they would be worth a ton in nostalgia just to see them all again at once! 😃💕

      • Sandra Strait 1 month ago

        I don’t know the market now, but some were worth quite a bit. Of course, that was in the original box, unused. I doubt if the empties were ever worth all that much.

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 4 weeks ago

          hehe… true… the original box items are always the real value. But they never got to be well and truly loved over the years, so one has to question how they achieved that status. 😉

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