The Soft Solder

Fifties Grain Truck - South Side toward Nampa, Peace River, Alberta
Fifties Grain Truck - South Side toward Nampa, Peace River, Alberta

In a Canadian literature course at the University of Alberta in the late eighties, Professor Bruce Stovel had us reading Canadian literature – Margaret Laurence’s Stone Angel, Upton Sinclair’s As For Me and My House and Hugh MacLennon’s Two Solitudes. I was coming to Canadian literature in my last year of an Arts degree after a tour through the literatures of the world, a literature decidedly English in its understanding of the world.  We began the course with short stories about the Canadian experience of living in a young Canada. A young Canada could still be taken advantage of and Stephen Leacock wrote more than a few stories aimed at exposing a need to be more wiley and aware as a country among nations. One of the experiences written about was the matter of being sold something. Sales and selling were about creating something called the soft solder, an electrical analogy sales people understood to mean the means by which they connected the would-be, hinterland buyer to a commodity he or she didn’t really need.

The effective salesperson would work to leave the commodity, something such as a clock, in the care of the prospective Canadian buyer to let him try it out and to ascertain that the clock worked  beyond expectations. For perhaps two weeks or a month the clock would remain fixed in the prospective buyer’s home. And, after two weeks or a month, the seller would return to review the merits of the clock with the prospective buyer and to collect the commodity, a clock which had worked its way into the habits and routines of the buyer. Removing the clock was something akin to removing a tooth from one’s mouth; it had been possessed and the threat of removal brought with it the uncertainty associated with luck and promise. The unsuspecting buyer would grapple with improved luck and situation that the clock affixed in the life of the buyer would provide. The clock would be kept and terms of sale agreed to.

In and around Peace River, Alberta the means of sale are not so subtle and no longer deal with affixing service or commodity to the buyer. The connective tissue (soft solder) at present seems to be that  of using vehicles of a former era to attract retrospective view and attach it to a billboard affixed to the side of the grain box of an older grain truck. Retro grain trucks have become portable billboards regarding services found at location. On Peace River, Alberta’s west side a sixty-four (1964) GMC three-ton grain truck  connects passersby with Luxliner services transporting them to Edmonton at fair price while this Chevrolet three-ton grain truck connects passersby with sandblasting services  on Peace River’s south side.

Listening to:  Radiohead’s Go to Sleep from The Best of Radiohead, a cool tune in terms of minor key melody; then it’s Ryan Adams’ Starting to Hurt from the Demolition album.  Next is Pete Yorn’s Pass Me By from the Day I Forgot album.  Later it is 5/4 by the Gorillaz from their album of the same name.

Quote to Inspire – “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”  ― Ansel Adams

3 thoughts on “The Soft Solder

  1. Thanks for liking my post.
    That made me come to this great blog! People are using old trucks and tacking billlboards to them here too.
    And I love your roadscape in the previous post, I have similar experience getting around, only in BC and not quite so far north.

  2. Gorgeous photo! So glad you stopped by my blog and introduced yourself. I spent time off and on in Edmonton for a dozen years while my husband was working there, and love the wonderful people, city, and region–not least of all for the huge number of photo opportunities they all offer.

    1. Hey there, Kathryn …

      Thanks for looking in on the late 50’s Chervrolet now advertising Sandblasting. Also good to read that you know Edmonton and have been in and around it.

      Take care,

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