Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: He was the best dog on the planet.

Bonding

Bonding
The author of Mark's Work with Ellie Mae

Guess who's coming for dinner

Guess who's coming for dinner
Blue heron, sitting on the dock of our pond

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Air-borne bees

BFF's forever

BFF's forever
Margie and Ellie Mae

Tomatoes and peppers are us.

Tomatoes and peppers are us.
Spicy salsa with roasted peppers, here at HappyDay Farms

Much love, John-Bryan

Much love, John-Bryan
Eric at 26 on the left, and John-Bryan in January of 1973.

Halloween fun

Halloween fun
SmallBoy and Dancing Girl

Our house

Our house
The snow season approaches...

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Collection of Christmas Reflections # 3: The World's Finest Chocolate or Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

This is the 3rd in a series of Christmas  reflections from all stages of my life.

The World’s Finest Chocolate
or 
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
How did I earn that five dollars I kicked into the Christmas fund, in 1965, so that I could be part of the Christmas present-buying- extravaganza?  I could go it alone, as we all did at times, I could work with JT, or finally, I could put in with everybody, as we combined forces to earn money for presents. 

As Brian got more into both Sunrize Market and Bishop Amat, he found himself with more money than time, a good arrangement for me.  He had to sell those World’s Finest Chocolate Bars, in order to be hip and happening at school, but he had no time outside of work and homework.
He therefore recruited me and JT to sell his candy bars.  I started at Bishop Amat in September of 1966, so I had my own candy bars to sell, but guess whose got sold first?  At a dime a pop, we could earn two dollars and forty cents for selling a box of Brian’s candy.  My own homeroom spirit took a backseat to financial prosperity, so I didn’t much care whether my candy got sold or not.
  
As a family, though, we had several ventures that we employed over the years, that relied on Pa spearheading the effort, with all of us kids going out into the neighborhood, to entice the good folks to buy what we were selling.  The most effective, in terms of returns, was the mistletoe gig, which combined several elements of the process, to form one solid package.  Doing mistletoe involved a trip up to the San Gabriel Mountains to gather mistletoe and pinecones, always a fun excursion.
The folks would package a sprig of mistletoe with a red ribbon on it in a little plastic bag, and the price would be fifteen cents.  Make it a big sprig with the ribbon, toss in a pinecone or two, and charge a quarter.  We went door to door in the neighborhood, and brought the loot back to Pa.  Spending a whole Saturday on the project might net us thirty dollars, which was then divvied up amongst us, depending on how old you were, and how much work you had done.  It was a lucrative way for us all to get a financial infusion.
Another way to earn money was having Pa make redwood baskets for hanging plants, and then again taking them door to door, selling them for one, two or four dollars each.  Pa used to stockpile a bunch of them, while teams of two covered all of the neighborhood. Again, we divvied up the profits.
There was a discarded telephone pole down across the street, in the empty lot next to Mrs. Downin’s place.  Now today, the last thing I would ever burn in my wood stove is creosote-soaked wood, but back in the day, we burned anything in our fireplace that would warm things up.  I had made an attempt at some earlier point to saw this baby up with a bow saw, but had given up after cutting two rounds.  Not enough return on my time investment.
Now I attacked the project a second time with a vengeance, and succeeded in lopping that pole up with a methodical directness which impressed me as much as anyone.  As the length of the telephone pole diminished, the coins in my piggy bank increased.  One thing for sure is I found it did not pay to try to earn money as a painter, because in the summer of 1967, I painted the entire house fire engine red for the total sum of five dollars, indicating the need for me to get a new agent. 
By the time 1966 rolled around, I was working as a bottle boy at both Sunrize Market and Handy Liquors. I earned a dollar an hour and probably took home ten bucks a week, of which I kept fifteen percent.  That would be a dollar and fifty cents weekly.  It was a good thing we understood the concept of saving our money.
A couple of years in a row, Auntie Anne and Grandpa made Christmas wreaths, and we got to go stay at their house for a weekend and sell them around the neighborhood.  I should say that Auntie Anne made the wreaths, while Grandpa drove us around, and we would take them door to door. 
Not able to guarantee peace and harmony for all mankind, I settled for buying Christmas presents for my family.

3 comments:

  1. Gotta say, selling those World Finest candy bars meant Christmas was on the way. There was something magical actually about going around the neighborhood - including being transported to some of the better neighborhoods - like the ones in West Covina - to see those candy bars. I still have images in my head of the trees with fall color leaves and the crunch underfoot when we were in neighborhoods that had sidewalks . The mistletoe project was especially nice because the folks were in on it - Robert was all about going up to Canyon to get that mistletoe. There was a festive air about the project -- and when are you going to write about the dreaded candles?

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  2. Dreaded candles? Those magic mushroom ones? That comes along in # 6, the piece on War Admiral, thank you for asking. I totally agree with the timeframe on the World's Finest Candy. We would stop in at the Owl Rexall across from Stassy's and buy penny licorice, favoring the black for the simple reason that it was longer. Pay fifty cents for a WFC candy bar? Not in this lifetime or the next, though I recently made a twenty dollar contribution to a table filled with high school students in front of Geiger's. I chose not to take the FOUR proffered candy bars, figuring that I could justify making a twenty dollar donation, better than I could paying five dollars for one of those tidbits that we used to hold dear at fifty cents. Makes no sense, but it doesn't have to.

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  3. What I remember about those world's finest candy bars is selling them for you, JT, and getting paid one in return for my efforts! I also remember how you always bought one for yourself and kept it up on top of your dresser, every night cutting a little slice and carefully hoarding it for as long as possible!
    And for us, I remember Thanksgiving weekend as the best time to sell as everyone was in a good mood and celebrating and often answered the door with a glass of wine in their hands! Who could turn away cute little kids selling candy bars the day before Thanksgiving?

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