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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Thursday, March 22 2001

Segue: play to work

Thanks to Lisa Johns and Lou Hahl for excellent contributions to the discussion of homemade toys. Most of the ones Lou recalled rang a bell in my memory, too, and homemade fishing poles were common, though I didn't have one in bamboo like Lisa. The "grass whistle" Lou remembers was much more likely to work, and be heard by human ears, than the one whittled out of whistle wood. And speaking of noise makers, there were also playing cards clothespinned to the spokes of the bicycles to turn them into "motorcycles." (Talk about imagination!)

This discussion suggests a natural segue to our discussion of work: "freelance" work in the woods and on the land. I've mentioned elsewhere my years of picking princess pine in the woods to make a buck to spend on an evening at Cicero's roller rink. Were there other ways of making money on the land or the woods? In our household we frequently mentioned hunting ginsing, which was purportedly as valuable as equal quantities of gold, but never found any (nor would we have recognized it if we had). We boiled the bark of sassafras to make tea, which I and all my family liked (and later the same was marketed in the food stores, until the bark was banned by the FDA as a carcinogen!). I just now learned that sassasfras is a member of the laurel family, so no wonder it's poison! We also ate a lot of "butter leaves" and even the tender red spouts from the briars, but never found a market for them. Lou mentions trapping animals with a state bounty as a means of making money; I knew of kids who tried that but never did it myself; my dad got into fox hunting in a big way for a couple of years and I believe he got some bounties for the few he shot.

One late August, Louis Scansaroli and I went into the blackberry business. We'd spend the bulk of the day picking berries, then driving in my '39 Ford (previously owned for years by Bert Adams, father of Paul and Ward Adams of Belsano) to Ebensburg and Indiana to market them to the food stores. Indiana proved a good market, though we probably didn't gross (!) $20 for a week's work. Elderberries, however, were another matter. A bushel basket of elderberries brought big bucks and was easier to harvest than a gunny sack full of piney (five dollars was a day's pay for many adults in those days, so my memory must surely be high, though that's my best estimate). Elderberries were "picked" with a pair of scissors, cutting the berries on the stem into the basket. An uncle who lived about 30 miles away worked at it quite seriously; compared with blackberries, they were relatively easy to get at, and there was no temptation to eat the fruit before it got to the basket or market. Mom did usually make a batch of elderberry jelly, which is delicious, but you can only wonder how anyone discovered such bitter fruit could make such a treat.

What other ways were there of making spending money in your youth?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Lenten humor

An Irishman moves into a tiny village in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone. An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more. This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the "Man Who Orders Three Beers."

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon the "Man Who Orders Three Beers" became a local celebrity and source of pride to the village, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening: he orders only two beers.

The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers. The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you on the death of your brother. You know, the two beers and all...."

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that me two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."

Sent by John Golias

Lenten thought: the good fight

Let us charge into the good fight with joy and love without being afraid of our enemies. Though unseen themselves, they can look at the face of our soul, and if they see it altered by fear, they take up arms against us all the more fiercely. For the cunning creatures have observed that we are scared. So let us take up arms against them courageously. No one will fight with a resolute fighter.

St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, eighth century.

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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