Part-Time Jobs and Climbing Trees
By David Henderson
It seems to me that sometimes when free market individualists swoon over the benefits of gaining a work ethic, including having many jobs when young and learning from each low paid low-skill job until one can become a wealthy, “success” in later life, it isn’t so different from when communists speak of the great benefits of learning about how to be a great collectivist, starting out as a Young Pioneer in childhood, learning about the party values…
…whatever happened to climbing trees and having a real, adventurous, creative childhood?
I’m not arguing for child labor laws or a minimum wage – just musing.
When I was a kid, I had both part-time jobs and adventures. The main adventures were not on the jobs, although there were some. Picking crabapples at Aubin Nurseries in Carman, Manitoba and being paid by the bag was tough work. Although I took a certain amount of pride in my work and didn’t put leaves and other things in the bag the way some of the kids did, the main thing I got out of the work was money. I didn’t have large goals for what to do with the money: I had small goals. I wanted to buy, say, a balsa-wood airplane or a hamburger at Syl’s Drive-Inn or a candy bar or a Coke. (My parents refused to buy us candy bars or soft drinks.) When I had enough money to do some of these things, I stopped.
Every summer we went to our cottage at Minaki, Ontario and my 10 cents a week allowance in the 1950s, up to 25 cents a week in the early 1960s, didn’t go far. So, from about the late 1950s (when I was about 8) to the early 1960s (when I was about 12), I would go on to the golf course and hunt for golf balls. I would sell the best ones to golfers, sometimes getting as much as 50 cents per brand new ball, more often getting 35 cents. When the Canadian $ was worth 1.03 in U.S. $ and American golfers would ask me if I took American money, I would say, “Yes, plus 3 cents per dollar.” When the American $ was worth $1.03 in Canadian $ and an American golfer would ask me if I took American dollars, I would say, “Yes.”
When I got a couple of dollars, I would lay off hunting golf balls and go swimming or canoeing or hiking.
Had I set very ambitious income goals, I don’t think I would have been happy. I needed just enough money to buy candy bars and to put 25 cents in the jukebox and play “The Battle of New Orleans” three times. The most expensive thing I saved for was a $30 transistor radio.
The bottom line: I didn’t mean to imply in my earlier post that it was all work and no play. I think I figured out an exquisite mix.