A couple of nights ago we watched the film, “Joy,” about the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Her entrepreneurial spirit brought to mind my own early endeavors.
The Greeley neighborhood I grew up in was very accommodating for the kind of kid I was. I could just show up unannounced at the door of Rudy and Ella, an elderly couple who’d never had children, and there would certainly be a few cookies and milk in it for me. Or I could drop by Diane’s house, the daughter or niece or something of Greeley’s renowned Monfort tycoon, and jump on her trampoline. I remember monitoring Tad’s dad (Tad of the “Physics of Brothers” story, who I learned from my brother last week is Head-Couch-Tad of the CU Buffs #RollTad basketball team). Mr. Boyle was working in his yard, with me watching for what felt like ages while he dug to China, he told me. He explained to me that since China was on the other side of the world, if he just dug deeply enough, we’d get to meet some Chinamen. I did not want to miss that, so I let plenty of other play opportunities ride by on their bikes while I kept my eyes trained on Mr. Boyle’s digging project. (Later, when I returned after I had to go home for dinner, I guess he'd given up and had to go to dinner too because he’d just put some really big landscaping rocks in the holes he’d dug.)
So these neighbors who let me be a part of their lives also supported me in my many entrepreneurial escapades. I really wanted to sell something. It wasn’t for the money so much. I just wanted to be a part of something bigger, with lots of participation from the people around me. Next door, Mrs. B. had this really great rock she’d show me when I dropped by to check and see what was new. (Plus sometimes she let me have a little glass of a really tasty, fizzy drink called Pepsi.) Her round, smooth rock was something I always wanted to see and hold. It had been cut in half under pressure with a high-powered saw, she explained. Inside, purple crystals glittered and caught the light like nothing I’d ever seen before. I decided I should sell rocks like that. So I collected a bunch of rocks from our yard and clustered them in the driveway. Dribbling the hose over them, I whacked each with a hammer. If I held the pieces that broke off just right in the sun, I could see sparkling bits. I loaded my red wagon and went door to door, offering my beautiful paper weights to the lucky inhabitants of my street and around the block. One nice man actually bought some—a penny a piece, except for one especially successful specimen that I sold for two cents—plus he showed me his own rock collection and sent me home with some petrified wood, obsidian, and a fossil. Another time, my sisters and I sold flower and vegetable seeds. Real ones. Factory sealed. Taking the colorful catalog door to door, I got much more participation than with the wagon of rocks. I loved it when those packets arrived in the mail and I got to sort them and tag them with all those customers’ names, then go to each house to deliver them. Stationary was another popular successful enterprise. When I close my eyes and think of it, I can still remember the feel and smell of the little boxes and shrink-wrapped note cards that I distributed among my satisfied clients. One time, I was out of merchandise and was missing the interactions with all my customers, so I just took my red wagon around and told everyone I was on a paper drive and asked for their old newspapers. I’d once seen some teenage girls doing that and it looked fun. Plus you got to talk to everyone and they smiled at you for taking the paper off their hands. When my wagon was so full I could barely pull it, I went home to empty it for another round. But as I neatly stacked my newly acquired recyclables in the garage, my mom came out and put an end to my plan. Turns out, she’d just cleaned out the garage and taken everything to the dump. Guess I should have checked with the management before I carted home everyone else’s piles. But at least they were smiling.
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Life with Quadruplets
As a mother of quadruplets, I've had plenty of crazy experiences raising "supertwins." I blog a lot of memories about my kids. Sometimes just my thoughts on things. I get those sometimes—when my brain works. Which is about one third of the time.