MARY LOU AND ME!
My best friend from 3 to 13 was my neighbor Mary Lou. We were inseparable for those 10 years and did everything together and liked to do the same things until we got older and went our separate ways but I still have very fond memories of us as children. Our parents bought us horses and we went riding together all the time but we also shared a lot of other interests as well. We were very busy children and quite the entrepreneurs when we were in grade school.
I have always loved to read and so did Mary Lou and when we were in grade school our school had a program in which you could purchase paperback novels, and other kinds of books as well, fairly inexpensively so my mother and her mother gave us an allowance to buy a lot of books, they were not very expensive back in the “good”, or at the very least, “old days”. I am sure our parents thought it was a healthy activity for us to do and it was. After we were done reading them there really wasn’t a lot to do with them other than to put them on our bookshelves but after awhile, after we had accumulated quite a lot of books, and being that we were pretty busy outgoing children that were always looking for something to keep our “little minds” occupied, we had the brilliant idea to set up a library in my girlfriend’s father’s shop. We made a list of all of our books, we had quite a lot of them between the two of us and we also used our parents books as well, and we made a library card for each book and took an index card box with blank cards in it and went door to door in our neighborhood and asked the neighbors if they wanted to join our library and being the good neighbors they were (times were much simpler and more innocent than they are now) many of them joined our “library” for a fee of course. It was a very long time ago so I don’t remember the exact fee we charged to become a member of our library but we did charge one, the amount of ten cents comes to mind but I won’t swear by that amount but I do remember we had fees for late returned books of 3 cents so I would imagine 5 or 10 cents were one of the likely amounts we charged to be a member of our library. I am sure most of the neighbors probably joined our library because they thought it was cute and most probably didn’t “check” out any books but we did have quite a few of our neighbors with their names on the index cards we had in the file box, and some did come into our little library and “check” out books from us. This was one of many projects Mary Lou and I did to make very small amounts of money – not that we thought it was a small amount of money at the time. We also put on a play for the neighbors that we acted out with another girlfriend of ours, it was called the “Three Witches” and we sold tickets to it and performed it using a big cool old oak tree in my girlfriend’s parents yard for our stage and sold snacks and beverages at intermission (which I imagine our parents made for us to sell) – I still have a copy of the three page play that we put on. We also talked our parents into letting us take the extra vegetables from their gardens, the vegetables that our parents had grown too many of for our families to be able to eat all of them (which they would have just given to our other neighbors if they hadn’t had busy little daughters like Mary Love and I) so they let us take them and artfully arrange them in boxes on our little red wagon and once a week we hauled that wagon around to the neighbors and sold them to the neighbors for big bucks! Big bucks to us anyway, something like a dime for a bag of carrots and I remember the really popular items were the beautiful artichokes that we got about 6 of a week to sell that went for “really” big bucks, like a 25 cents an artichoke, until we ran out of the vegetables that our parents had allowed us to sell out of their gardens each week during the summer. What silly little girls we were. I do have very fond memories of our little neighborhood library, and selling vegetables and fruit from the “little red wagon”. I even found one of my books from it when I was cleaning out old stuff in my house not that long ago and it still had the “library check out card” in it! We were very industrious children. One time our school had a visitor who spoke to the school in an assembly and offered any of the children at the school to receive 1,000 small paper garbage bags (they were printed by a local lumber and paper mill with an advertisement for what was the fledgling business of recycling at that time) for your car that all we had to do was send a postcard request, they provided the postcards, to that local business named “Weyerhaeuser” and they delivered 1,000 small paper garbage bags to Mary Lou and I’s houses (or I guess more accurately they were delivered to our parent’s houses) much to our delight. They were stamped with the recycling promotional information on them that “Weyerhaeuser” was trying to build a good reputation for (there were some people in the community that weren’t too fond of the odors that the pulp mill put out which was the reason for their attempt to gain good will in the community) and the reason they were given away in the first place –but they were indeed free, all 2,000 of them were ours to sell to our wonderful neighbors who could have just as easily have asked for 2,000 free little garbage bags if they had wanted to. Since there was no way we needed them since we were in grade school and rode bicycles (and I am sure there was no way our parents wished to have to use all of them or store them while it took them who knows how long to use them us as “garbage” bags in their cars) we put the 2,000 little flat paper garbage bags, that had a little opening on them so they could be hung from the window handle of a car (this was way before power windows were the norm) which is what made them garbage bags for cars, in our little red wagon – the same one that we also used to haul the vegetables we sold- and went door to door and sold the neighbors bundles of 25 garbage bags 5 cents and 50 for a dime, not too bad of a profit considering “Weyerhaeuser” gave them to us for free! The only other thing I remember (and I do stress the word remember) my girlfriend and I did to make money was on Saturdays when they showed movies at noon on a local television station that were more or less family oriented movies, like “Creature From The Black Lagoon, and “The Blob” – the originals I have to add, we would ride our bicycles to the store and buy candy that could be broken up and sold in separate pieces for a “slight” mark up and make popcorn and sell it to the younger neighbor kids who would come over to “my” house to watch the movies on the television that my parents had put in the family room so they could watch their shows in peace in the living room and we had the privacy of watching movies with “no adults” around. We also bought big bottles of pop and sold glasses of it to go along with the candy and popcorn. Did anyone else do any of these kinds of things to make money when they were children? I guess you could say I was either a young entrepreneurial kid or these were my first jobs!