Rereading an earlier post, I saw that I’d referred to my younger son, the former Mr. Pennybags, as a “scheming little businessman,” but realized that I hadn’t backed up that moniker with much evidence.
From a young age, Pennybags has loved money, and was always trying to think of ways to supplement his allowance. I was frequently set upon with requests to open lemonade and hot chocolate stands (covering all your hot or cold weather needs), and I would obligingly set out the little Lego table, help mix up the appropriate concoction and provide cups and spare change. Advertising was up to my junior salesmen, who would make attractively misspelled signs and broadcast appeals and product endorsements at the top of their prodigious lungs.
If business wasn’t exactly booming (which could be the norm on our quiet side street), they might load everything into their little red wagon and walk to the steps of the library or set up at the side of the bike path, where they usually sold out of their wares in record time.
Pennybags astutely realized that his potential customers might not always be in the market for an otherwise refreshing cup of lemonade, and decided he needed to diversify. Around Eastertime, he spent a busy morning with paper and crayons, turning out multicolored facsimiles of Easter eggs. These were unfortunately not the hit that he anticipated, and I had to telephone my sister to come around and purchase an armful of his ten-cent masterpieces, which she good-naturedly displayed in her home “museum.”
Pennybags’ most innovative campaign occurred early one spring when he was six. Our front lawn was littered with the winged maple seeds we always called “pollynoses,” and kids around here refer to as “helicopters.” I’d missed seeing him industriously collecting them from the lawn and then peeling open the wings to extract the shiny, pale-green seeds, and only realized something was afoot when he disappeared into the pantry with a pitcher of water.
“What’s going on in there?” I called through the door.
“Don’t open the door!!” he answered somewhat frantically, which was, of course, my cue to open it a crack and peek in. I was only able to catch a glimpse of him pouring water into one of a half-dozen paper cups lined up on the counter, before I was unceremoniously banished.
A little while later I noticed Pennybags and his brother lugging the Lego table out to the sidewalk, followed by several trips to the pantry to retrieve all the paper cups. A sign was affixed to the front of the table, and Pennybags was open for business.
I had to satisfy my curiosity and ambled over to the table, where an inspection of the advertising placard revealed, in childish scrawl, “10¢ for a cup of grow my own tree. Poor it on the spot you planted your tree.”* Peering into a cup, what did I see? A naked maple seed bathed in an inch of water, ready for planting!
Judging by his inventiveness and enterprise, this kid is on his way to being a millionaire – or at least a poet!
*His translation: Pour it on the spot you want to grow a tree.