Each year of my life, my family had always had a garden. This year with two friends, we decided to have a plot of our own and sell the produce door to door. It would give us all savings to use for the first day of the state fair. A farmer behind us came through and plowed a plot when he was doing his own field. When asked how much he just laughed and told them to bring him a cold drink when we saw him working. He was impressed with kids wanting to work the land.
We set to work banging at the huge clumps of black earth. A neighbor lady came out and asked to see their hoes. She took them up to her yard and showed how they were to be sharpened. The lesson paid off and it seemed fun to have learned this valuable lesson. She even came down one day and joined in, giving continual advice. Years later I can still see her pounding away at the soil, always coming out when we were in our plot. I hoe with the vigor she shared with us, and have passed the story on to many.
This was not going to be an easy job as we had earlier thought. Making sure all was getting done and tending this plot took a lot of our playtime away. Friends often stood and watched waiting for us to finish to play baseball or kick the can. The weeds had to be all out and vegetables watered before this could happen. Then off we would go, often with a new blister or sore back.
Next came the harvest, slow as it could take to ever happen. We filled up a coaster wagon and set out with whatever we had. Everything was a nickel, and a bargain at that. I found that if we sent one of our younger siblings to the door, they always would buy from them.
My grandmother halted this, she was not impressed with my sales technique, and the younger kids often wore out early anyway. Beautiful tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, bunches of radishes all sold fairly well. If there was any excess we begrudgingly gave it to our families for the nightly meal.
Counting our money was a regular occurrence; it was fun to see it grow. All of us came from large families and there wasn’t any allowance offered at home. It was hard not to take a little out to get some ice cream, but the older boy maintained a tight bank. He had the money in a small safe, that only he knew the combination. Each time we counted it, we divided the amount by three to see how rich we were. We could almost taste the snow cones and envision the stuffed animals we could win at the fair.
Summer was drawing to and end and the variety we had to sell was dwindling. Corn came in but sold in less than an hour, it takes a big plot to harvest a large amount. Potatoes were hard to dig and had some low yields, but sure tasted good when my mom fixed the smallest ones for us with butter when we dug them.
The fair came and we counted our money, thirty-nine dollars. We felt we would be kings for the day. The first day offered free admission for kids and we were ready to go. My dad dropped us off and gave us each a dime to ride the bus home. He laughed at our excitement as we plotted where to start. The rides were calling us in, most were a quarter, but some were thirty-five cents. We threw darts at balloons, had our ages guessed, and ate caramel apples and snow cones. We each got a hat with a long plume of a feather and our names embroidered on them.
Our pockets grew emptier and we really hadn’t eaten any real food. Off to the free stuff we went and found a guy cutting up vegetables with the year’s newest knives. We asked what he was going to do with all he cut and he told us to help ourselves. We gorged on the produce that had paid our way. Off we went to ride one last ride and to the bus to go home. We were all down to less than a quarter but had a wonderful day. How grand we sat with our new hats on the ride home. Kings of the fair and patrons of the land, ready to do it again the next year.