Ringing a Doorbell is Not a Crime

Vintage Avon Ad and handgun

Offering to “help you put your best face forward” the Avon lady never lived in fear of having her own face blown off by ringing a doorbell. (L) Vintage Avon Ad

With a gun culture spinning out of control I can’t help wondering-could the Avon Lady soon become an endangered species?

Now it might not only be the internet that will cause her demise, but the simple act of making a sales call unannounced.

The once familiar doorbell ringing “Ding Dong…. Avon Calling” could now prove dangerous. ln our present gun culture of “shoot first ask questions later,” it might end up resulting in the death of a salesman.

An innocent ring of the wrong doorbell proved nearly fatal for a young, talented Black teenager in Missouri.

The Stranger Rings Twice

Ralph Yarl

Ralph Yarl the 16-year-old who went to pick up his brothers from a sleepover. Instead, he got shot at close range for ringing the wrong doorbell.

Andrew Lester an 84-year-old white man in Kansas City, Missouri is accused of shooting a 16-year-old  teenager, Ralph Yarl who mistakenly went to the wrong house to pick up his two younger brothers.

He rang the bell twice.

He is Black

Missouri is a state where citizens have the right to use force if they “reasonably fear that they are in danger.”

There is nothing reasonable about any of this.

Is it reasonable to live in fear that knocking on the wrong door can prove dangerous?

Knocking Door to Door

Once upon a time, not too long ago an unexpected knock on the door or ring of the bell was a common occurrence. It might be an annoyance on occasion but it didn’t signal danger.

I can say with reasonable certainty a deadly firearm was never pointed at a Fuller Brush man.

The cold call door-to-door salesman was once a fixture of the American landscape.

The Great Depression’s plummeting economy threw millions out of work, and thousands of unemployed turned to direct sales to make ends meet. Traveling door-to-door salesmen peddled everything from aluminum cookware to vacuum cleaners tossing a handful of soot on the living room rug to prove the power of their product.

On most mid-century days, the suburban streets of my childhood were filled by a legion of door-to-door salesmen trafficking in consumer goods. It was an endless parade of post-war peddlers, their sample cases bulging with promises for a brighter, cleaner, more attractive future for you and your family.

They ranged from the high brow-invest-in-your-child’s-future encyclopedia hustlers to the Electrolux man, and the Avon Lady who promised to help you put your best face forward. The lyrical sound of Ding Dong… Avon Calling was music to my mid-century mother’s ears.

The Fuller Brush Man

Fuller Brush Man

After knocking on the door, the Fuller Brush man would sit on the sofa and open his wares.

But the  King of the door-to-door salesman was the Fuller Brush Man. He was once so ubiquitous in American culture there was a feature-length film made about him.

The visit of the fuller brush man was a bit of excitement on a humdrum day for many housewives. It was a scene repeated in towns across the country.

The bell would ring almost anywhere in America, a housewife would run to answer it, and there would stand a well-groomed, smiling gentleman. “I’m your Fuller Brush Man,” he would say, stepping back deferentially.

“And I have a gift for you.” It was the famous Handy Brush.

A Foot in the Door

“I’ll just step in a moment,” he would go on, scooping up his large sample case. Inevitably the Fuller representative would seem to know where the living room was, and within seconds his case would be open, the free brush splendidly in view, the demonstration, already underway.

In the hands of a deft Fuller dealer, brushes became not homely commodities but specialized tools obtainable nowhere else.  He had one for anything M’ lady needed to clean with. For years, my Breck clean hair was brushed with a sturdy boar bristle  Fuller hair brush that lasted for years.

All these indispensable brushes were brought to the door by a man worthy of trust who would be back again in three to six months with new items.

But the most they ever had to worry about was getting the door slammed in their face.

Not shot in the head.

Missouri community demands justice for the teen shot after ringing the wrong doorbell.

Now wrong house, wrong driveway, wrong car are offenses punishable by death in a crazy gun culture running rampant.

Something is very wrong.

We need to stand our ground when it comes to gun control.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2023. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




  1. Sally, truly a sad state of affairs. Or, a cop walking in the wrong house after work and killing the resident. Or, a college student whose car broke down and was shot trying to ask for help. Or a twelve year old boy who was gunned down in ten seconds or so because he had a toy gun….Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems every day there is a tragic event like those you mention. It is intolerable and unsustainable.


      • Sally, we turned around at the end of someone’s driveway the other day. That simple act can get you shot did not enter our mind. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      • I understand. That these simple day-to-day “mistakes” we all make can now be potentially lethal has elevated the fear factor in daily living. It’s not safe to go to a mall, a post office, or a supermarket or pull into the wrong driveway. I’m glad I work from home.


  2. Another great post. It is indeed a sad state of affairs. How did we get here? Not by accident. Gun manufacturers has backed candidates for decades in exchange for rejecting gun-control legislation while stoking false fears of random crime one can only survive by owning a gun for protection. I am not the first to say it, but there is great truth in the statement that, if gun made people safe, Americans would be living in the safest country in the world.


  3. I don’t know how Americans leave the house on any given day. It seems like such a deadly country. But when I lived in New York, I always felt safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is very scary. I find myself anxious and scanning a public place, thinking could this be a place where a shooting happens?I never felt this way living in NYC either. And lived there in the 1970s when it was in fact pretty violent and crime-ridden, but there was a different quality to it than what I am experiencing now.


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