Editor's Notebook

| July 2007

No job was too hard if it involved money

In this issue of CAPPER'S, you'll see several entertaining stories of how people earned money when they were youngsters. As always, editing these stories brought back memories.

I learned early that there are no free rides in my family. We were expected to work, and the work we did was expected to be done well. We had weekly chores, we had allowances - and there was a relationship between the two.

We did dishes, helped in the kitchen, emptied trash - all the usual kid jobs that earn allowances. And when the allowance failed to cover expenses, which was frequently, we were expected either to forego further expenditures or come up with a solution. This often involved patrolling our rural neighborhood with the big red wagon, prowling for pop bottles - which meant we then had to wheedle Mom into a trip to town to exchange the bottles for hard, cold cash. I can't remember the exchange rate, only that it took a lot of bottles for a swim and a sno-cone.

We kept a running list of extra tasks to earn a soda pop or a trip to the skating rink. (Believe it or not, a Coke was a special treat that had to be earned.) Many of these tasks were fairly odious, so we had to be highly motivated. Cleaning the dogs' part of the backyard was one such job, as was the job of pulling weeds in Dad's garden.

The strangest 'job' I had, however, came one summer night when my parents had friends over to play bridge. I kept running into the house, completely freaked out by the June bugs on the front door screen. They buzzed, they got tangled in my hair, they flat-out terrified me - until Dad offered to pay me five cents a June bug and gave me a big jar, that is. It's amazing how quickly I got over my fear and how fast I filled up that jar.

Dad said he wanted to use them for fishing bait, a story I believed for years. It occurred to me not long ago that I've never actually heard of anyone using June bugs to catch fish.

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