Make sure the sugar is sugar

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By W.B. Evans

Kids have tough times too, but this year, Mother Nature sure has been giving us older folks a run for our money.

In April, it was a hailstorm. In the last two weeks, it was an earthquake and right of top of that, a hurricane.

Since I’m in Maryland visiting kin right now, I had the honor of experiencing all three.

You know, I just have a knack for bein’ at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Gosh, I am still waiting for the hail damage of Charlotte Road to be fixed.  Some schools up here in Maryland are still closed due to big cracks caused by the earthquake. 

Now, the nuclear power station at Calvert Cliffs has one reactor offline. Seems as if Hurricane Irene ripped off a piece of siding and slammed it into the wrong place. That just goes to show I’m not alone with this wrong place/wrong time stuff.

For me, it goes back to the time when me and one of the fellas decided to make some picture show money by washing automobiles.

Our first customer was Mr. Ed Plyler.

As soon as Mr. Plyler wheeled that big Chevrolet into our side driveway and parked it, I knew we were in trouble. 

It just about took all the hose pipe we could stretch from the back yard spigot to get it close to the car for a rinse.

Then, to make matters worse, Mr. Plyler, his daughter Jean and grandson, Bobby, drove away in their other car and didn’t leave the Chevrolet keys with us.

It wasn’t a matter of trust. It was more a matter of us being barely big enough to see out the windshield, even if we had the keys. I reckon age does have its privileges at times.

After all of that hose pipe tugging and straining, we were just about done when Mr. Gregory pulled in behind our freshly washed car.

Evidently, word was gettin’ out fast about our car washing adventure.

We hated to, but we had to turn away Mr. Gregory until the Plylers returned.

That hose pipe was stretched to the breaking point. 

Sometimes the high cost of being in business is losing money.

Technically, it costs 11 cents apiece for us to get into the show. That meant when Mr. Plyler paid us two bits, we’d be three brownies to the good.

But turning away a customer was a quarter loss. I thought we had a well-thought out business plan, but it just wasn’t working out.

That’s when that old 100-watt light bulb went off above my head.

 One of the true signs of good business savvy is an ability to change with the times and situations.

I decided to get the old washtub from the plunder house and we opened up the only dog washing franchise on Chesterfield Avenue. At a dime a dog, I figured we’d probably make a small fortune. In looking at the numbers, there was a lot more dogs than cars in our neighborhood. 

Mrs. Chandler, who lived up the street had a little bitty dog that needed a good bath.

However, I forgot one thing; my dog, Tiger, didn’t care to have any other dog coming into his territory.

Everything started off real good, we got Mrs. Chandler’s pup into the wash tub, poured in a bunch of Rinso soap powder and started scrubbing. 

Bless Pete, that dog was whiter than snow in no time. As we started to rinse off the soap, old Tiger had seen enough. He bounded from front steps to the wash tub at full speed before we could slow him down.  

Mrs. Chandler’s pup did some leaping of his own. He came out of the wash tub and ran across the yard and through the middle of a hill  of cow manure that Mrs. Gregory was going to put around her roses. 

There wasn’t much traffic on Chesterfield Avenue, but we feared that pup would get run over and took out after him.

The pup was smart, though. He made a beeline home and ran right into Mrs. Chandler’s arms. 

Her clean dress was a disaster and her precious puppy was a dirty mess.

It was then we realized that Tiger was right behind us and in the middle of everything. 

Mrs. Chandler was screaming to high heaven and Tiger just wouldn’t stop barking.

To make a very long and difficult story short, we had a mess and it sure didn’t look like we were going to get any pay. The dog washing business came and went in less than 30 minutes time.

My buddy figured our only alternative was getting back to the basics. Our only business that ever worked was a lemonade stand. 

This wasn’t a very profitable plan for me since he expected me to supply all the raw materials. 

After negotiating, it was decided if I furnished the lemons, sugar and table, he’d provide the water and chipped ice. 

There was only one problem. Mama didn’t like me using her sugar since it was in short supply. 

I scratched my head until the light bulb went off. I figured getting some sugar from Aunt Bess (without her knowledge) was the best way to get around it.

Now, Aunt Bess had her own way of doing things in the kitchen. 

Sometimes, she would put flour in the cornmeal container if it was empty. Coffee ended up in the oatmeal box. 

It was confusing to me, but she always knew where she put stuff. I reckon that’s something adults  do.

By now, you should see where this is going. 

Yep, she had filled the sugar canister with salt and salt was in the sugar bowl, for sure. Since I was in a hurry, I didn’t have time to worry about that.

I was about to learn why Mama sampled her own dishes while she was cooking. Since I was in a hurry, I didn’t have time to worry about that.

We didn’t get a taste until the lemonade jug was sitting on the table in the front yard. We had a whole big old jug of salty lemon juice.

Tiger got a little taste as we poured it out on the ground. He snorted and sneezed and headed back under the porch steps.

You know, never figure that certain things will always be like they are supposed to be. Don’t assume that sugar is in the sugar bowl. 

So, as you sit in your rocking chair with your feet propped on the porch banister reading this, remember that grown-ups ain’t the only folks who have problems. 

If your grandkids decide to open a lemonade stand, tell em’ where the sugar is.