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When my daughter was about 16, she arranged for the four of us to have a family portrait taken–the only one we ever did. You know how it is, the females saying, “Oh, no! I never take a good picture!” and the males muttering, “If I knew I was going to have to put on a suit…” But the picture came out better than I expected and I still carry it in my wallet.

I have to say, though, that the best pics of my kids didn’t come from any formal studio. The fun ones, of course, are things like naked little butts cavorting around a blow-up swimming pool or a toddler making himself dizzy with a circular ride in his Krazy Kar (which I believe we called a Big Wheel) or Daughter playing with her dog Scooter. The only time we came close to portrait quality was when the Foremost truck was in the neighborhood.

“What in the world was a Foremost truck?” you ask. Well, usually it was a truck that delivered dairy products of the Foremost line.  About once a year, though, a flyer appeared on the porch that announced The Truck will be on your street Tuesday! That was Mom’s cue to get the kid’s hair cut and make sure he was well rested on Tuesday, because The Truck with a mobile photographer would be there to immortalize the little darling.

Oh, we sometimes still had the guy with a pony and a Brownie show up in the neighborhood, but no one expected those pictures to be anything much. The Foremost guy was a real, professional picture-taker, with a mobile studio–backdrops, reflected lighting, toys and all–who somehow performed his miracle and made the kids enjoy the whole process. A week or so later, you got a free calendar with your cherub’s countenance front and center and a little discreet advertising top and bottom. You also were offered a set of “finished proofs” which were actually very nice quality photos. For these, of course, you had to pull out the baking powder can and make inroads on the contingency funds. There were also full photo packages available, at even more cost. Still, the prices were reasonable, and that meant a lot to young parents in those days.

The Foremost truck is gone now, as is the Foremost Dairy, which merged out of existence sometime in the 1980’s, I think. By that time my kids were past the hold-up-the-teddy-bear-and-smile stage anyway, so we hardly noticed the absence of The Truck. It’s a shame, though, and I wish some other company would resurrect the idea. It’s good business. Not only would the calendar stay on the wall for a year, complete with scrubbed and smiling children’s faces (and advertising) but the goodwill generated was tremendous. Certainly we counted pennies, but if the Foremost brand was reasonably close in price to competitors, most of the shoppers I knew would choose to buy the brand that cared about us–and our children.

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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