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posted: 10/8/2012 8:14 AM

Hear stories of the traveling salesman at Elgin museum

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  • Ron Solberg

    Ron Solberg

  • Advertising card from Elgin Ovens made by Kimball-Dieterich Hardware, ca. 1925.

    Advertising card from Elgin Ovens made by Kimball-Dieterich Hardware, ca. 1925.


Submitted by Elgin History Museum

Join Ron Solberg as he recounts stories of the traveling salesmen of Illinois in "The Whizbangs of Oohs and Aahs: The Magnificent Traveling Salesmen of Illinois" at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at Elgin History Museum, 360 Park St., Elgin. Admission is free.

Illinois has introduced more than its share of innovative and enterprising traveling salesmen. Chicago has always been a retailing center and it's not surprising that advertising ideas have started in the Midwest.

For more than 150 years, a 19th-century Marshall Field and his "whiz-bang drummers" have joined with the likes of 20th-century super salesman Ron Popeil and his "Pocket Fisherman" to introduce products, services and concepts that are still with us today.

In fact, many of their ideas and strategies have been adopted by modern-day marketing, advertising, and public relations disciplines.

Solberg is the author of "The Whizbangs of Oohs and Ahs -- America's Salesmen: Their Lore, Lives, and Laughs" and has spoken at numerous Illinois conferences on a variety of topics, including "The Life and Times of America's Salesmen."

He was also the 2006 recipient of "Distinguished Teaching in Social Studies" award by the Illinois Council of Social Studies.

For details, visit or email The program is sponsored by Illinois Humanities Council.

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