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When I was 12 or so: Odd jobs, COVID, and Krispy Kremes

When my
parents started handing me a weekly allowance, it was just a quarter. Even
though RC (Royal Crown) Colas and my favorite snack, Big Fig bars, cost only a
nickel each, it seemed to me 25 cents didn’t go very far. At 12 or so I got to
be a bit of an entrepreneur and took on odd jobs to earn extra cash. I needed
the money for treats, comic books, Elvis 45s, and the Saturday morning Kiddie Shows
at the Wards Corner Suburban Theater on Granby Street, a mile from our house in
Norfolk, Virginia.

lawns, one of my first occupations, was easy enough, and it’s the yard work I
most enjoy even today – when you’re through, you can instantly see what you’ve
accomplished! One cranky neighbor on Harold Street, where I grew up, always
stood around and watched me strong-arm my dad’s old push mower, and fussed when
I’d miss a spot. I figured if he could hang out there that long and walk around
the yard to supervise my work, he sure could’ve mowed his own lawn.

Another tiny
enterprise I started up was selling snacks at the Little League games that were
played up the street at Crossroads, my elementary school. I’d buy candy bars
and the crackers my mom called “nabs” (because they were made by Nabisco) and
hawk them in the stands for a few pennies more than I paid. But the real
profit-maker was peanuts in the shell.

At our
neighborhood grocery store (where they’d pay two cents apiece for discarded
soda bottles that I’d scavenge on the streets), a huge bag of what my mom
called “goober peas” (unaware the term came from Congolese “nguba”/peanut)
might cost 50 cents. I could divide them into 10 small brown paper sacks,
staple the tops, and sell them for a dime each. Just do the math: if I sold all
10, I’d make half a dollar – two weeks’ allowance in a single afternoon!

There were
a couple problems. One was the occasional bully who would try to rob me – nuts,
candy, cash, and all. Another was that PTA mom at the ballfield who angrily
insisted, “You can’t sell that stuff here – we have our own concession stand!”

So I found
other ways to supplement my income. Also at about 12 or 13, I’d taken up both
coin-collecting and stamp-collecting. As a budding wordsmith, I loved the fancy
words for those hobbies, “numismatics” and “philately,” which I later found out
came from Greek and meant, respectively, “the study of coins” and “love of
something tax-free” – which is what a letter was for its recipient, when the
sender had pre-paid the delivery fee by affixing a postage stamp.

You could
order collectible stamps “on approval” by mail in those days from H.E. Harris
& Co., and coins too from Littleton Stamp and Coin. Both advertised in
magazines like Boys Life and in comic books, and I became a loyal
customer. As my stamp collection grew and I had eventually accumulated lots of
duplicates, I figured I could start my own business. I made up the name “NORVA
(for Norfolk, Virginia) Sales Company,” placed a few ads of my own, and soon
enough started my own on-approval mail-order operation.

After a
while I hit upon another idea that appealed to my sweet tooth. Along with an RC
or a Grapette, my two favorite sodas, I liked to eat not only fig bars and moon
pies, but especially – once they opened a nearby shop – Krispy Kreme doughnuts,
particularly the ones filled with raspberry jelly. I knocked on our neighbors’
doors one weekend and asked if they’d like fresh donuts by the dozen biked to
their homes on Saturday mornings.

several said yes, I persuaded the Krispy Kreme driver who serviced our store to
deliver to my house too. He let me have the doughnuts for wholesale, comped me
a couple dozen each week, and I sold them all for retail – except for the
freebies I ate myself, of course. Pretty soon I was delivering as far as a mile
or so away, having to make several trips back and forth from my house, as my
bike basket could hold only five or six dozen at a time.

I was
reminded of my doughnut route recently when I read this Krispy Kreme promo:
“Anyone who shows their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card will receive a free
Original Glazed doughnut.” I plan to find our vax cards from this past March
and drive across town to our KK shop. Alice will be fine with the glazed I
expect, but I’m hoping to convince them their former delivery-lad merits a
raspberry-filled, or maybe two!

Rick LaFleur is retired from 40 years of teaching
Classics at the University of Georgia; his latest books, are The Secret Lives
of Words,
a collection of his widely distributed newspaper columns, and Ubi
Fera Sunt,
a lively translation into classical Latin of Maurice Sendak’s
children’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. His Facebook group, “Doctor Illa
Flora’s Latin in the Real World,” numbers over 4,100 members. He and wife Alice
live part of the year in Apalachicola, under the careful watch of their French
bulldog Ipsa.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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