The summer had not been very good to us, with the drought and me a breaking my leg. Then Leona ran off with that traveling salesman. Me and Little Bill and the wife did what we could. They toted water for the corn and taters since it did not rain.
When all was said and done we had a little over a bushel of beans, three bushels of taters, and three bushels of corn. That is what we had in our winter cupboard. Not much, not much at all for a family like ours. I had filed saws, sharpened axes, and most of the pay I got was in the form of foodstuff, that we ate and soon forgot about. Heck, I tried making bird houses and having Little Bill sit on the road side and try to sell them, but out of twelve I made, he only sold three. Then I tried weaving baskets from the willows that grew along the creek, but I ain’t much of a weaver.
As colder weather came around, we had to kill and eat the chickens because we did not have any feed for them. Instead of them starving, we ate them so we did not starve.
Had to sell the three milk cows to pay my doctor bill, so as I said the winter cupboard was bare. The wife did some house cleaning and even did some washing and ironing, but there were a lot of women looking for that sort of job.
I went by the furniture factory to see if it was possible that I could get a job where you sat down. But they said no. Then as I was leaving, I noticed a fork-lift dumping wood scraps into a dumpster. I got an idea and went back inside. Clebe Jackson said they paid to have those wood scraps hauled off. “Can I have them if I can haul them off? Will you let me have them? You wouldn't have to pay for them being hauled off? Clebe, said I could.
I went to the dumpster place and asked what they did with the wood scraps. “Haul them to the dump and pay twenty five dollars to dump them,” Gene Hrobsky told me.
“So what if you dumped them at my place? It is closer than the land-fill and you would save twenty-five dollars every time you dumped a load at my place.” The next day there was a load dumped and I thought, 'man, at least we have firewood'.
“What you doing Lil Bill,” I asked as I hobbled out to the shed. Heck, I could see he was playing with those little odd-shaped scraps of wood.
“Making a train, Dad, making me a train,” he said.
I stopped and looked at the pile of scrap wood. Then I got an idea, an idea I thought might help us fill our winter cupboard. “Bill, get a cardboard box, fill it, and put it on the workbench.” Bill did and I sat down at the work bench, well I sort of lay beside it. I made a little train, then some simple cars. The wife painted the wood in bright colors. I took some string and small staples, and hooked them together.
“Hon, you have made environmentally safe toys, make a couple more and let me take them into the farmer’s market and see if I can sell them."
So I made four trains and three other little toys. I made two more trains but since the wife did not have time to paint them, she took them as they were, just unpainted wood.
On Saturday the wife sold one of the painted trains and both of the unpainted ones. “They have toys like this at the toy store,” she said.
That night when Little Bill was saying his bedtime prayers, he said, “I wish for a big red wagon.”
Aha! Another idea. When we went to the doctor the next day, we went by the make-a-wish-place and I talked to a nice older lady.
“Make you a deal,"I said. "I'll make these simple wooden toys for you and you can sell them. You sell them and I get half of the sales price. That way, you get help and so do me and my family.”
The woman’s eyes lit up. “I should take this to the board, but you bring me ten or twenty toys and let me see what I can do.”
I was happy, cause Little Bill had begun to lose weight. That day, the doctor took off my hip-to-toe cast and replaced it with a smaller, lighter cast, one that allowed me to walk on crutches and move about. We went home happy.
I got busy and made twenty painted trains, ten unpainted trains and thirty two other little toys, half painted half un-painted. The wife took them back to the lady and we crossed our fingers, hoping for the best.
The following Tuesday, the lady came to our house. “They were a huge success," she said. "The people who work at our headquarters want me to sign a contract with you and they will patent the toys.” She said this to the wife while I was out buying paints.
They wanted 1/3 painted and 2/3 unpainted. Also, I would have to employ handicapped help. When I came into the house the wife handed me a check. I nearly fell over for the papers showed they had sold each unit for over ten dollars. My check was for $327.16 cents.
I was ecstatic, and jumped up and down on one leg.
That afternoon I went to the furniture place and talked to the manager. I told him that I was using the wood scraps he had and I wanted all of it. I offered to pay him, but we agreed that I would get a trailer and empty the bin at night. Or I would empty it on weekends so it would not hinder their work force.
We settled on twenty dollars for each load of scraps. Then I went to the dumpster man and explained what had happened so he would not think I was trying to steal his business. He man understood and made me a deal. “Six trains for his grandkids," he said, and we shook hands.
In order to expand what I had made, the wife would sit little Bill down with a bunch of scraps and let him put the stuff together. It wasn't long before we had separate toys. I hired two people, a boy from over in Groupertown who had lost both legs in Iraq, and a lady in town who had lost part of her arm.
The wife and I took our money, gave half of it to the Salvation Army, and used the rest to stock our winter cupboard.
By Tom (tomWYO@aol.com)
Watch these pages for more of Tom's stories and poems.
In the meantime, click the links below for other poems and stories by the authors at Lara's Den.
The Reason For The Season
Stop By For A Cup Of Tea
The Christmas Doll
And.......for many others, click the index image.