“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.”—Joey Adams, (1911 – 1999) American comedian, vaudevillian, radio host, nightclub performer, and author.
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Resolutions are seldom the solution. Easily made but even more easily tossed aside before Valentine cards are on sale, our endeavors for a new start often require more work than we are willing to put into them.
That is unless your resolutions are like Center minister Tim Perkins’ pledges. In his sermon Sunday morning at the Center Church of Christ, he vowed before the faithful flock gathered that he would eat no more sweets in 2022: no more cakes, no more cookies, and no more pies. Then, when he had everyone’s undivided attention, he concluded with a smile, “I also vow to eat no less than I did in 2021.”
Vowing to eat less is probably second only to resolutions for saving more money. So, that aspect of improving 2022 dominated my thoughts last week as I worked on creative ways to further stretch the already thin dollars in my budget. In doing so, I remembered a conversation with former city manager and friend Jeff Ellington many years ago. In that visit, Jeff and I laughed at realizing we shared a common method for making extra spending money as kids, collecting and redeeming empty soft drink bottles for the deposit money. The humor was in realizing that countless youngsters like us had done the same thing.
Ellington grew up in Shelby County, and I grew up in Titus County in northeast Texas, but the work ethic was the same. Even at a bicycle riding age, if we wanted disposable income, we made it with our ingenuity and sweat equity.
My life as a preteen in the late 50s and early 60s was not a hardship. There were no five-mile walks to school in the snow, uphill both ways. Life was easy. I walked just two blocks to school in an average middle-class American neighborhood on Redbud Lane in Mount Pleasant. Even so, a Saturday movie, a comic book, or the newest rock-and-roll record was enjoyed only by free enterprise at its best.
For good friend and next-door neighbor, Eddie Dial, and me, the lure of admission to the Martin Theater on Saturday afternoons often required extra income. Motivation to see that western or sci-fi flick and maybe pick up a comic book later from Perry Brothers five-and-dime store was enough to learn that extra income was going to come primarily by our own efforts.
Our parents cared well for our needs, and in my case, I even earned 25-cents a week allowance so long as I cleaned my room, kept the trash cans emptied, and groomed mom’s flower bed, keeping it free of weeds. But the bulk of our recreating was supported by collecting soft drink bottles tossed on the roadside and returning them at the corner grocery store for the deposit money.
The total cost of a Saturday afternoon on the town was minimal by today’s standards. A quarter to get in the movies. Popcorn and a drink were another quarter. The comic book afterward was a dime.
But Saturday afternoon luxuries were dependent on Saturday morning’s search for bottles. Typically, the business plan was a bicycle ride south of town on the Pittsburg highway, some days as far as Cypress Creek scanning the roadside for bottles. The round trip of up to ten miles if we went all the way to Cypress Creek usually netted a decent income from the two cents each for bottle was worth at Hutchison’s Grocery Store. Life was good.
Still working on stretching dollars today when the expense of my upkeep becomes my downfall caused me to think. Perhaps being introduced to more of the same free enterprise, a.k.a. work, at an early age would solve a few problems today just as it did for previous generations of kids.
After all, look how well it worked for my friends and me. Jeff enjoyed a prominent career in city government during his lifetime. The last I heard, Eddie followed in his father’s footsteps with a successful career in the insurance business. And me?
Let’s just say that, for me, working has proven to still be the better resolution.
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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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