Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Season that Dollar Bills Rained in our Kitchen

The opportunity to earn seven cents per newspaper per week does not seem like a lot of money, but I learned quite a lot about hard work paying off during Christmas week of 1961 when it was raining dollar bills in my kitchen!

My brother Dick and I had a paper route for the Eagle-Tribune in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It wasn’t like delivering the Santa Maria Times. The weather was not anything like the Central Coast! We couldn’t get by flinging the papers somewhere in the front yard or driveway.  It was quite a different job. The houses were mostly two and three stories and we placed the papers carefully at the front doors!  We had grown the route to about 75 customers and our area was spread over a great distance. I just turned 14 and my brother Dick was 12 and half.  We appreciated our customers and served them well.  And we loved the opportunity to work hard and earn our own spending money.

The numbers worked like this.  The paper was 7 cents per day and it was Monday through Saturday, with no Sunday paper.  We had to pay the office 35 cents per customer, so we earned 7 cents per week plus tips.  Customers usually paid at least 45 cents per week, with many paying us 50 cents.  We usually earned about $4-5 dollars per week each.  That was a fair amount of spending money in those days.

At Christmas time we were pleasantly surprised with the customer warmth, many Christmas cards and great tips!

When we arrived home, we were very cold, but happy.  Dick and I sat at the kitchen table and started adding up the take.  We owed the office $ 25 and our total collections were usually about $35. We were counting out the money and it was mostly dollar bills and we realized that we had received over $100. 

In a moment of spontaneity my Mom saw our excitement and she started taking the stack of dollars and started throwing them in the air!  Dick and I got in the act and soon we had dollar bills floating all over the kitchen.  It was a memorable time!  We were overjoyed!  Dick and I had lots of money to buy Christmas gifts for our family members. I realized that hard work pays off- the day it rained dollar bills in my kitchen.