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2007

When I was a very small child, my cousin Jim and another boy named Q (ask me about Q some time lol) and I tied string around the necks of empty horse liniment bottles that we found in Grampa's barn and then pulled them through the dirt as cars. I also remember playing with an old wooden box labeled FelsNaptha soap in that barn. (Didn't take much to amuse us in those days!)

One year our then-mini club was decorating and filling inexpensive covered wagons (I think from Mexico or possibly made by the late Keith Ballhagen) provided by our then-president (Karen of Karen's Minis and Skycrest) for a group project. I found in my stash a mini wooden box that said Fels-Naptha, and then I remembered a peddler who came through that rural area of Oklahoma during WWII, even though he was driving a truck whose sides lifted up, and then I knew what I wanted to do with that wagon. Funny, isn't it, how some odd little thing like finding that mini soap box triggers a memory and makes things come together for us.

I did not want a traditional covered wagon; I wanted one that a peddler would use. So, I removed the hooped canvas top, added a wooden back, flat roof, shelves, doors, a ledge on the side, and gave the entire vehicle a dirty water wash. The curtains were added for privacy and protection from weather.

My wagon is owned by a horse liniment salesman, who touts his liniment as a cure-all for all equine ailments.

Dr. Barker has been known to sell the same liniment to humans - Good for Man or Beast, he likes to say.

Dr. Barker camps outside town, then rides in quietly to check out the community and hire a local boy to pass out his flyers. That night he mixes up whichever concoction he believes will sell better and hangs the appropriate sign on the doors. Then the next day, he comes to town prepared to sell.

Makes you wonder who he considers are the jackasses, huh.

Here Boy, Dr. Barker's loyal dog (crudely carved, but I like him), guards his owner's quilt and bedroll and other belongings while the doctor sells his wares.

Hmm, that looks suspiciously like a pistol right behind Here Boy. The good Dr. Barker has had the unhappy experience of being run out of town, and doesn't rely only on his trusty guard dog, apparently.

His money box and leather hat rest on a trunk. (I made the hat in a Sylvia Roundtree workshop.)

A crate holds his cooking utensils. They are inexpensive metal and Chrysnbon pieces, given a battered, smoked-up look with chalks and paint, as was the originally-bright-red Christmas ornament lantern. That's a hot pad beside the coffee pot.

His funnel and various bottles of additives are to the right of his little lock box, which contains more of the secret ingredients that he adds to the firewater.

Food supplies are on the back shelves. Empty liniment bottles (made from clear Christmas tree lights) protrude from a burlap bag just behind his mixing items.

Before he goes into town Dr. Barker unrolls the cover so that only a crate of filled bottles is visible on the ledge when he touts his cures.

 

The wooden barrel and bucket came with the wagon. I just doctored them up a little to look a bit more realistic.

Our good salesman puts the filled bottles in the Fels-Naptha Soap box when he's ready to head into the next town to sell Dr. Barker's Liniment, Good for Man or Beast!

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That wagon was fun to do.

Our wagons were exhibited at the County Fair in Las Cruces, NM.

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