Mow money, mow money, mow money

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By W.B. Evans

Spring is here again. Up on “the Charlotte Road,” we can tell things are starting to bloom and blossom.

We’re seeing a few more pickups on the road that are pulling trailers loaded down with string trimmers, lawn tractors and gas cans.

I guess these folks have begun their annual trek to some of the more affluent homes to manicure lush lawns and trim shrubbery and shape up those ornamental topiaries.

Times sure have changed; cutting grass has now evolved into mowing and lawn maintenance.

When I was much younger, I figured the grass-cutting business would be an easy way to make some picture show money.

Our old rotary lawn mower was in decent shape. It cut our yard pretty good, except for those taller stems folks called crow’s feet.

I had to use a sling blade (which I still consider as the most torturous tool known to mankind) to knock down the crow’s feet. The hedges always needed a bit of trimming to make the yard look good.

Now, right across the street from our house, was the home of my friend and childhood playmate, Little Ben.

Little Ben’s father had a different outlook on mowing. He would let their grass grow waist high, which didn’t seem to bother him as much as it bothered his neighbors.

Once again, the light bulb in my brain brightly burned.

I figured I would offer to cut their grass for 50 cents, which was a lot more money than most jobs paid at the time.

I was about to learn it doesn’t pay to take on something until you spend time figuring things out.

But I was broke as a church mouse and looking across the street, all I

could see a big, shiny silver half-dollar staring back at me. I figured it was easy money for the taking.

That was all the incentive I needed and I made up my mind to seek the job. Mr. Ben asked me if I was really ready to take on the task at hand and I told him I most certainly was.

I raced back to my house, oiled the wheels on the lawn mower, ran a metal file across the hedge clippers and did what I could to sharpen the sling blade. Loaded down, across the street I went.

Funny thing, though – all of a sudden Mr. Ben’s yard looked a lot bigger and the grass appeared much taller.

I lunged my lawn mower into the tall, thick grass and it stalled out like I had plowed into a brick wall. This was way more than crow’s feet.

Right then, I looked up to high heaven and wished that I hadn’t taken on this task. I did my best with the sling blade, whacking away, raking and whacking again. It was slow going, but I stayed with it all afternoon and managed to produce a real hay pile to haul away.

This was not going to be a one-day job. By the time the sun had set, I was worn down to a nub.

I crossed the street and headed straight for the bathroom for a good scrubbing. To make matters worse, I had to scrub the tub afterward because it was caked with grass. I had gotten myself into a real mess trying to make a little movie money.

The dew was still wet on the grass when I started back across the street the next morning.

I beat down and raked off all the high grass before trying out my mower again. It was hard pushing at first, but finally, things began to look a whole lot better.

Mr. Ben and Little Ben came out on the front porch to check my progress and agreed that my hard work was up to snuff. By sundown, I was dead tired, but I finally finished.

Bless Pete, this was the hardest 50 cents I ever made.

I hauled my equipment back home and returned to Mr. Ben’s to collect my pay.

Mr. Ben complimented me on my job and told me that he had a man coming in a few days, but I had beat him to the task.

His words stung. Lord knows, I wished I had would’ve waited a few more days before going in the grass cutting business.

To my surprise, Mr. Ben handed me a crisp dollar bill.

He admitted that he didn’t think I would stick with it since it was quite a task for a young boy to tackle. But Mr. Ben was impressed that I wasn’t a quitter and doubled my pay.

From that time on, Mr. Ben’s yard was mowed each week by a grown fella and it never got that unkempt again.

Thank goodness, there is such a thing as a boy’s job and a man’s job.