Summer time meant summer jobs
The old song goes “Summer Time and the Livin’ is Easy” but for some of us, summer time meant summer jobs and earning some money. When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I put a sign up in two convenience stores near our neighborhood that read, “Will Mow Lawns in Allenwood. Call David at ________.”
Miss Morris was the first to call. This never-married school teacher lived on Allenwood Road. I rode my bike to her house, and she interviewed me and gave me a chance. I’d push my mower across our subdivision and mow her lawn in the grass-growing months for $3 a time, and then rake her leaves in the fall.
Word got around, and I picked up three other regular customers: Mrs. Weaver for $2 a mowing, and Mrs. Patterson for $3, and another whose name I forgot. If someone paid $5, that was outstanding!
After a couple of summers, a neighbor recommended me to Mr. Hines, a retired elevator company executive. I pedaled down highway 49 on my spider bike with no helmet and into town to mow his large lawn three days a week for two summers, while also keeping my regular lawns. He paid a whopping $1.25 an hour and provided lunch.
When I was 16, Baldwin County received some sort of government grant to hire 12 high school students to walk the county roads and pick up trash. I was hired and reported to the prison camp each morning, picked up an axe handle with a nail on the end, and a bushel basket, hopped onto a prison bus, and rode out into the country to walk the roads for eight hours of cleaning up litter.
I loved the outdoors, found some interesting discarded items, and saw a few snakes, all while making $2 an hour. People passing us would think we were convicts.
Church member Melody Stafford worked for Church’s Fried Chicken as a ninth grader, and her main job every morning was making sweet tea. The first time she made tea, she accidentally put flour in the tea instead of sugar, and a construction worker complained.
Her manager was angry, marched her to the back and showed her the sugar container, which happened to be next to the flour container.
The next morning, Melody remembered which side the sugar was on, and made sweet tea.
When the same customer walked in, the manager asked, “Did you put sugar and not flour in the tea this morning?”
“I surely did!” replied Melody with a smile on her face.
The man ordered the tea, sat down, took a sip and the tea was not sweet. It was horrible!
Melody said, “I did put sugar in this time. You said it was the one on the left!”
But someone had switched the containers! Melody didn’t make any more tea.
Mark Karki, our minister of worship, one summer worked in a steel mill in his home town of New Castle, Pa. He made enough money to pay for that year’s tuition, and labored alongside some hard-working men. These good men, of course, used words that weren’t used in Mark’s home.
One particular word was used in regular conversation the entire shift.
As the summer progressed, the men noticed that Mark didn’t talk that way and asked about the college he attended and the major he chose. After they realized Mark was heading toward music ministry and was attending a Christian liberal arts college, they started some light-hearted “spiritual hazing.” They would ask the preacher boy questions that were intended to discredit his testimony.
At the end of the summer, after surviving this good-natured ribbing, the boss made one final request. They wanted Mark to sing.
So at lunchtime, Mark climbed on top of a table, and they requested “The Lord’s Prayer.” Mark sang as strong as he could to honor the Lord.
The men were impressed, and the boss, this tough steel worker, now withtears running down his grimy face, put his arms around Mark, gave a strong hug and proclaimed for all to hear, “Mark, the Lord is going to (bleeping) use you in a (bleeping) wonderful way in your life! God bless you, Son!”
Ecclesiastes 9:10 reads, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your heart.” Even summer jobs!