BEEN quite some time since I've heard tell of a due bill. Are they used nowadays? Most of the small town weekly newspapers did a lot of business with due bills. Instead of collecting money from an advertiser, you took your value in goods or services. One editor I knew got a new Pontiac every year, and because no money ever changed hands he had to be careful about making out the bills. Local dealers who advertised Pontiacs could get half the cost back from GM, so the editor and the dealer connived, and probably GM knew all about it. Along in the 1920s and the '30s, a lot of Florida hotels began advertising in northern newspapers to catch the attention of the first covey of ``snowbirds,'' and any Maine editor who wanted a Florida vacation could run up due bills in December and January and then spend February and March in Miami.
Mr. Frank B. Nichols, who was publisher of the Bath Daily Times, used to do that, and in his later years we staffers wouldn't see him until he showed up sometime in April with an oak-leaf tan. It wasn't noised about that Mr. Nichols made use of due bills, and he enjoyed the sporty nuances of a Florida vacation just as if he paid cash. Almost, that is.
One spring after Mr. Nichols got home, he asked me if I were acquainted with a certain Mrs. Sarah Blodgett Freeman. I was the reporter who roamed the area looking for grist, and I was supposed to know everybody. I said I was well acquainted with Mrs. Sarah Blodgett Freeman, and why did he ask?
That wasn't her real name. Call her that. She was from Harpswell, which she always pronounced correctly as hairp-s'l. Her daddy had been one of the big shipowners in the magnificent, and profitable, days of Down-East sail. Money, he had. Now as Miss Sarah came along she lacked certain qualities and didn't attract suitors. Culturally, she was a dandy. Her daddy sent her to Westbrook Seminary for Females, where she mastered languages, propriety, and the flute, acquiring sufficient nicety to matriculate at Vassar, from which she was graduated summa cum.