... My first effort to make a buck
As the calamity of World War II was developing, my Pop came to me one day and asked, "You wanna make some money?" What else could a kid of 10 years say but, "Sure!" Little did I know what was in store.
Soon he materialized with a case of eggs and the boxes for them. In the beginning, I had to candle the eggs myself and then place them into the boxes he got from one of his paperbox company customers. Then I placed the eggs in a kid's cart and proceeded to ring doorbells and establish a route for them. Thinking about it today, I quickly found people ready to accept a weekly egg supply. The eggs came from Harrow's in Reading. I had to make sure the customers were happy and minimize the complaints. I learned that blood spots are apt to materialize during the summer season and explained that to people. We never had old eggs and I even told all the customers how to determine if an egg was fresh or not so fresh. To do that, you place an egg in cold water. If it lays flat, it is as fresh as it can be. If it is really old and ready for burial, it will stand on end! Fortunately, my eggs never were that bad.
They appreciated the advice and figured if this kid is so forthright about testing eggs for freshness, he is okay with us. Some customers took as many as 10 dozen a week! I had no idea what they did with them, but that didn't matter. My margin of profit wasn't very good; maybe a dime on a dozen. During that time eggs sold for about 65˘ a dozen. As the War arrived, there was concern among some folks that the supply of eggs might dry up and so some of them decided to put them up in what they called water glass. That was okay by me as they were buying cases of eggs at a time with me gleaning a profit of $6 a case and in 1942-1943 that was pretty good! Water glass is sodium silicate. The idea was a hold over from World War One. Later, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I offered turkeys, chickens, capons and ducks. It got so that I was turning over a $1500 investment just on Fridays and Saturdays! However, the ol' social life was suffering.
The bank account was mounting up very well. Oh! When the business got large enough, my kindly father had to run the route with his Buick! Well, after all, I couldn't lug all those eggs, turkeys and stuff in a kid's cart! He was very kind in that respect. The training of dealing with people was first rate. I didn't know enough to be devious in any respect and the route had a great following. Eventually I discovered girls weren't boys and the ol' egg route took on a second rate to that. I got into the high school social scene, attending all the football games and dances and stuff. It got to be a hassle dealing with the egg route and then having to go on a date exhausted. It worked out in spite of the egg route, but I must say my life would have been much the poorer had it not benefited from contact with all those wonderful customers.
The sole disaster we had was late on a day when we had just picked up several cases of "cackle berries" from Harrows and when I was driving down Perkins Street, a woman came hurtling out of Newcomb Road and my Pop had to stand on the brakes! CRASH! No, not the car-- the eggs! Pop pulled the car over to the curb and we kind of squeegeed the broken eggs out from the floor of the car. It had its funny aspect and I was surprised when Pop started to laugh. That week I took a loss, but I made sure all the customers knew what a martyr I was! All this time and Pop never once asked for compensation for gas and aggravation! He was a good guy!
One week he came home with 15 cases of strawberry jam, still hot from the factory. We offered those jars to the customers and they bought them up eight or ten at a time! After that he brought home jam still hot, whenever he could. I even conspired to get 'em cold and heat 'em up at home but the labels melted off. So much for capitalism!
March 1, 2002