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The First Time I Made Money (add your story)

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serenity blaze
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since 02-02-2000
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0 posted 03-31-2009 12:37 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I'm not sure if I was paid for singing, or to shaddup.

Most folk who know me, know I have a life soundtrack in my head--and it works by the prompt of situations or simply listening. Some people find it charming, and I confess it annoys the hell out of others. It depends on the situation. Like one time, in band camp? (Just kidding--grin)

But yeah, one time, back in the daze of quaaludes, I was privy to listening to one side of a telephone conversation:


I watched the disappointment on his face convey the message I couldn't hear--

"Then why didn't you call me yesterday?" Then the guy slammed the receiver down (it was one of those old phones, that actually had a base y'could kill a fella with) and then 'the guy' glared at me and demanded--

"Y'gotta song for that, y'witch?" <--um, cleaned up for family forum

I was unperturbed, and immediately launched into a croon:

"What a difference, a day makes..."

He couldn't help but laugh, even through the throes of Jones.

But in this economy, I've been trying to think of what it is I know how to do, which prompted me to backpedaling down my scant memory lane as I wondered:

"What was the first thing I ever got paid to do?"

I do remember. And again, I'm not sure if it was for singing or to make me shaddup and go away.

You decide.

I had this great uncle--and he really was "great"--in both ways. He lived in my Grandfather's shed, an adjunct to a backyard sheet metal shop. I'm not even kidding. His dresser drawer was right next to the giant metal press, and I was completely fascinated by this guy. He had an indoor/outdoor HOME, and I thought that was incredibly neat. And it was incredibly neat.

I peeked in those drawers, and everything was folded nicely and tidy--and there never seemed to be that sheen of metal on his REAL wood dresser drawer. My great uncle liked to drink, and so that was his home, not so far away from home. Once, when he was in his cups, he opened that magic door and let me see his cot, and he had a basin in there too, with running water, and a mirror. It smelled like shaving cream.

I didn't get to look for very long before I was called away by my Grammaw...

"Leave Uncle Horage be," she'd warned. But I simply couldn't.

Some days, I'd play out back, where they grew the garlic and green onions, and I could hear his radio. There was an octogon top to the cesspool, and that was "my stage". I put on shows!

One day I tapped my foot on the metal siding on purpose and he tapped back.

So that became our code.

We became "tight".

My family was still a family with cousins and such back then, and every now and then we'd go there for barbecues and visiting. The women would sit in the kitchen around the metal edged formica table and sip discreet stuff in metal tumblers, and I totally hated it in there. They would give each other hair "perms" and it burnt my eyes, so I'd beg and plead until I was allowed to play on the back porch (and my stage).  That little concession gave me the necessary inch toward the mile to where the men were, all dawdling and conversant about that sheet metal shop.

I learned early to keep quiet and be good, so I could listen. I loved those times the best. My dad always knew I was there, and if he was feeling especially mellow, I got to sit on his lap while he tapped his foot.  When his leg got tired I learned to sit in the dirt behind the bench where he was perched, and I would draw pictures in the dirt and listen while they talked. I had a habit of rocking myself back and forth while I hummed whatever tune the conversation would turn into those radio dials in my head.

I tried to be useful too. I'd fetch beers from the washing machine--it was loaded down with ice and beer. (Falstaff and Jax) Even at a tender age, I was very astute at judging who would be needing one soon--not an easy task to do at dusk through that brown glass...but I managed.

I got to be pretty good at judging the tone of conversation too. This one time, in the twilight, I heard my Uncle Horage talking, and I loved him so much---I was wrapped in every word, and sweating the fact that I might be noticed as "still there" and sent away at any moment. He was talking about a beach, and no, I don't think he said Normandy, but he was talking, and for once, all the men let him talk. Usually they talked over his slurs, but not this night.

He said something about a U-boat, and I couldn't imagine such a boat being able to float, but I knew I couldn't ask "why" or "how" so I just listened.

He said he was the third sitting duck.

I didn't know what that meant, either. I didn't understand why ducks that were sitting were so serious, but all the men went quiet, and I was horrified when my hero, my Uncle Horage started to cry, as he shivered and shuddered his confessional of holding his buddy up to get in the water to "save his own skin". I still didn't understand. He'd helped his buddy, right? Wasn't that a good thing?

I know now, that it was a horrible crime in his mind, but what do children know?

I watched Uncle Horage grab his forehead and bend over, and he was crying. So I went to the washing machine and got him a beer.

Then, I don't know why, but I burst into song--

I sang God Bless America.

It puzzled me when all the men got teary eyed, and they started handing me money.

The whole scene was very solemn, and they let me sing the second verse too, before my Dad kissed my head and told me "that's enough now..."

Another uncle said he'd "let her sing it, Wayne" and so my Dad did, and they gave me more money, and they smiled at me through glassy eyes, from tears or drink, I'll never know.

My father let me finish, and he tapped me on the butt, and said, "say goodnight button".

So I kissed them all goodnight.

I heard my Uncle Jules say that I sang real purty too.

I trotted up the steps of the back porch, only to get my butt whupped good by my mom, and I was told to eat my cold supper of gravy and rice on that green formica table. (That stuff only tastes good hot. Especially with all that damned okra.)

We didn't stay the night that time, and my Dad told me in the car to take real good care of that money--that it was specially meant for me. I could spend it any way I wanted, 'cause it was mine--I'd earned it, but he said he'd hold it for me if I liked.

It was nearly fifty bucks.

Now in the sixties, that was a lot of money for a little girl who just wanted sharp crayons and the BIG thick coloring books,  but I didn't know any better.

And yep--

I was real popular in the neighborhood for about two days, and yeps, the older kids conned me outta that money.

But they couldn't steal the real prize.

Before the age of six I learned the secret pain of men and a little something about healing.

At least that's what I like to think now.

and yeah, "God Bless America" for being such a place where such a thing like that could happen to a little coon ass girl who stayed out too late, and knew what song to sing.

And now I know why Uncle Horage drank, too.

God bless you too Uncle Horage.

* * *

Your turn, folks.  

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1 posted 03-31-2009 07:57 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

Karen- that is a very touching story, and one that I could never hope to match.
My first time making mony was when I was about 7 or 8... I would go next door and watch the baby sleep while her mother would come over to visit to get a break. If the baby woke up, I would tell the mother. I got an entire quarter for my troubles. Of course, all I ever did was watch TV... the woman was, literally, 10 feet away- door to door- and all of the windows were open so she could hear everything.

My first entertainment cash was somewhere about $20 for playing a friend's private party. Well... plus all of the beer I could force down my throat.

But this one goes to eleven...

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2 posted 03-31-2009 08:28 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Great stories, Karen and Ringo.
When I was 5 yrs or so, my biological father still lived with us(very long story)and often sang lines of lyrics and poetry.

I sat on his lap one day and said:

"Daddy, if I say a rhyme, you owe me a dime!"
A shiny new dime was immediately tucked into my tiny hand.

Not one to stop on a dime, the next line from my lips:

"Daddy, if I can make you holler
then you owe me a whole dollar!"

A crisp one dollar bill was soon folded into my anxious palm. I had visions of bags of penny candies and new crayolas (yes, Karen, I also wanted those BIG BIG coloring books!)

But just like the infernal IRS, mom took the $ away the same day, said it was too much money for a 5 year old. My pouting and foot stomping only got me sent to my room for the rest of the day. But she did 'break down' and buy me a new box of CRAYOLA brand crayons and a GIANT coloring book filled with animal pictures. (Of course, my sisters also got new books and crayons.)
In the end, I guess I got what I really needed/wanted from my first payday.
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3 posted 03-31-2009 06:00 PM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

K, hon? *S* It wasn't to shut you up. *S*

I supposedly got an allowance of a quarter a week when I was in grade school... but that quarter disappeared at the slightest infraction... heaving a sigh before doing my chores, making a B, "sassing" anyone, letting my mind wander (and getting caught at it *G*) during church... and since each infraction meant 6 weeks with no allowance, you might safely say that me getting an allowance was pure myth. LOL
So... with the statute of limitations LONG expired, I can say I was breaking the law the first time I made money. LOL Nothing nefarious... I was raised so strictly that not only did I stay out of trouble, I didn't know what trouble was. LOL I was simply too young to work at Fort Polk, but everyone concerned knew I was dirt poor... and kindly overlooked my birth date. *S*
When I walked into the bank and opened an account with my first check... I may have looked like a kid, but I felt all grown up... and RICH! *S*

... wish I could still overlook my birth date! LOL
Klassy Lassy
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4 posted 04-11-2009 05:38 PM       View Profile for Klassy Lassy   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Klassy Lassy

The first money I remember earning was for catching grasshoppers for the handiman of our apartment complex.  He paid my brother and me two cents a piece.  He said he used them for fishing bait.  So we filled a glass fruit jar with them.... LOL.

He always had a smile for us, and we were fascinated by his stories.  It was in the fifties;  he wore blue jeans and had cigarettes rolled in the sleeve of his shirt.  He was the first man I can remember being around us (other than my uncle) who didn't wear a business suit, so he was something of a curiostity to us children.

Looking back, the grasshoppers were probably just a diversion to get us out of his hair, 'cause we followed him around like puppies.  I have no idea what we did with the money.

I don't know if that came first or the time my mother paid us five cents a bucket to pick up rocks and stones out of the garden. We really didn't have a choice about that, tho.  
serenity blaze
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5 posted 04-11-2009 06:35 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Oh wow.

I forgot about this. (I wasn't ignoring ya'll...)

GREAT stories, much appreciated.

Thanks to Ringo (I knew you'd be interestin') and Kacy (I knew you'd have something equally interesting) and suthern? I know there's more, but you'll tell me over coffee some day soon, right?

And thanks very much to the Klassy Lassy--for reminding me of something I can never forget.

More please?
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