You can’t bribe kids with nickels and dimes anymore – and that’s sad. It offends the cheapskate in me. As a boy I could be bought cheap, and so could all my friends. A nickel would get a lot of chores done around my house in those days. I know a nickel had a lot more buying power when I was young, but I also think as kids we were not as mercenary as the kids are today. That may be because parents did not have money to hand out in those days, which meant kids had to do what ever they could to make a little money.
My very first paid job, besides chores, was selling Grit newspapers door to door. You couldn’t make a lot of money doing that. I also sold those little containers of Sachet, and Cloverene Salve to make a little money as a kid, and sometimes, my neighbors, the McCoy boys who helped a man on his newspaper motor route on Sunday mornings, would let me come along with them. We each made a whopping 50 cents delivering papers out of a panel truck for four hours. Next I was a caddie at the old Country Club golf course that used to sit just past the viaduct on South 65 Highway. I made 90 cents a round for caddying nine holes back then, and thought I was rich if someone gave me a tip of another dime. My first grown up job was for Spec Delozier, who owned a little café that sat where a church parking lot now sits, between Seventh Street and Broadway Avenue on Ohio Avenue. I made $25.00 for the nine days of the fair that year, washing dishes, and peeling potatoes. I was in heaven. I don’t remember what I spent some of the money on, but I do know one of the things I bought was a new pair of shoes to start school. Ask a kid to do that today with their own money. I was also a shoe shine boy, a strawberry picker, and a corn shucker at different times when I was a boy. None of those jobs however, paid enough to alert the IRS, that I wasn’t paying taxes on what I earned.
A nickel felt huge in my pocket in those days, and a quarter was like carrying a manhole cover. I remember when I had that much money, I would keep my hand in my pocket, holding the quarter tightly so I wouldn’t lose it. For a nickel in those days, you could buy a candy bar, or enough bubble gum to last several days, and for a quarter you could pay for a Saturday double feature at the Uptown, Liberty, or Fox Theater, which included, a newsreel, a serial, and a cartoon. For a dime you could buy a bag of popcorn, or a soda pop at the concession stand. My friends and I would usually take a bag of popcorn our mothers had popped for us, so our dime could buy the pop or candy to go with it. I do not think you can do that now. I think it is wonderful that there is more money around now, which means parents and grandparents have no problem giving their children and grandchildren a little money now and then. Today, however, it takes a lot more than nickels, dimes, or quarters to bring smiles to their little faces.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column will run in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.