The Little Orphan Granny learns the value of hard work
The young Orphan, now firmly established in his neighborhood in Memphis and wise in the ways of the world, was in an arena that was only limited by knowledge, skills, funds, time and energy. The Orphan quickly found that all of the former could readily
be had by merely using the latter -- time and energy -- to do “work” of some sort, while reading, studying and not sleeping too much.
The Orphan worked all of his life.
At the age of nine or ten, the Orphan would roam his neighborhood and surrounding areas to find yards to mow with an ancient hand lawnmower and flowerbeds to weed with his hands and a trowel and hoe. The work was arduous and hot and paid a pittance. A pittance was an order of magnitude more than the Orphan had ever
had in his pocket before so The Orphan persevered.
However, The Orphan did learn that there was a plenteous breed of humans called “widderwomen” who seemed to feel they had a right to The Orphan’s labors for between nothing and less than a pittance.
So, at age ten or eleven, with his characteristic focus and a desire for more funds to obtain resources, in addition to the yard work, The Orphan went to Williams Weona Grocery Store.
He pled with Mr. Williams for a job and was awarded tasks such as moving boxes of canned goods from the storeroom to shelves – this activity was called “stocking.” In this job The Orphan was designated a “…stock boy…” The Orphan also “filled orders.” In those days people called Williams Weona by telephone and gave
a list of needs to a clerk who would collect the requested goods together in one location. The Orphan, in his guise as a “…store clerk…” after collecting the needs all to one place, arranged the needs all together into bags and “bushel baskets.”
Williams also had the needs delivered to the requesting people’s homes by delivery truck or by bicycle. The Orphan, in his guise as a “delivery boy,” loaded the bags in bushel baskets with about 75 to 100 pounds in a front carrier and three rear carriers, and would ride an Orphan-powered Bicycle to deliver these
needs to the customers. These customers liked The Orphan and would provide sandwiches and milk until The Orphan was cooled and less sweaty – along with a largess called a “tip.” These tips were not shared with Mr. Williams.
The Orphan also occasionally went to Purdy-Jester Drug Store and delivered drugs (an honorable profession in those days). Being treated to cherry cokes, milkshakes and sodas at the soda fountain was the pay the Orphan received (since The Orphan was a handsome lad and the fountain was “manned” by cute girls, the
Orphan was already receiving such awards – but The Orphan delivered the drugs anyway).
Later, when in high school, The Orphan worked at Ferguson’s Record Shop, sold records (large black plastic disks that, when combined with a “needle” and a turntable hooked to an amplifier and connected to speakers, played music) and listened to a lot of music.
The Orphan even awoke at 4:00 a.m. each day to deliver several hundred Memphis Commercial Appeal newspapers where the gross cost per customer was $.35 for a week’s papers. The Orphan, who had to collect the $.35 each week, received about $.05 of the $.35. While employed by contract with The Memphis
Commercial Appeal as an independent “paper boy” The Orphan met a group of people who varied from “nice and courteous,” to indifferent, to the meanest, cheapest, cheating, lying sons-a-bitches in the universe.
One of the latter was a customer who insisted The Orphan paperboy deliver his paper first. When The Orphan demurred, the customer shouted obscenities that confused The Orphan. The Orphan had a birth certificate that attested to his legitimacy. When told this by The Orphan, the customer became red and swollen-faced
and sputtered vile threats.
Later that week during a snowstorm when the Orphan attempted to collect the weekly newspaper fee of $.35, this same customer threw 35 pennies into the snow.
The Orphan informed the customer that The Orphan would not pick up the pennies and would not deliver any future papers, whereupon the customer began to scream that the Orphan must pick up the pennies because they would nick the customer’s lawnmower blades. Upon being re-informed by The Orphan that the customer would
have to recover his own pennies, the customer screamed “…I will have your job for this…” at which point The Orphan informed the customer that the job was too difficult and complex for such an idiot. The apoplectic customer could only repeat his original red-and-swollen-faced sputtering of vile threats.
Suffice it to say that The Orphan never delivered a newspaper to that customer again in spite of numerous entreaties by The Memphis Commercial Appeal -- who occasionally forgot that The Orphan was an independent contractor. However, The Memphis Commercial Appeal did collect the $.35 from the customer
for The Orphan – which the customer hoped would force The Orphan to again deliver newspapers. The independent contractor Orphan continued to demur.
Early experiences such as the above with the paper route customer would help prepare The Orphan for his later life – particularly with The Orphan’s nearly forty-year career with The Boeing Company where such behaviors were plentiful – always by bullies and cowards who felt their “position” entitled them to such
behavior. The Orphan always challenged such rights and became reputed as a person who would not suffer fools gladly (or otherwise) and would not accept rude or bad behavior from anyone -- particularly from self-styled elites such as an Albrecht or from easily demonstrable pompous fools such as a Standal.
In those days in Memphis, The Orphan delivered newspapers that printed news rather than printing whatever sensational story was deemed to sell newspapers. (The curious fact is that the more that newspapers do “sensational” garbage today, the fewer newspapers they sell, and then, in a panic, they print even more
sensational garbage: a lemming-like suicide for newspapers.)
Much later in life, The Orphan abandoned reading newspapers altogether when the Seattle Newspapers wrongfully and viciously and erroneously attacked The Boeing Company. (See a quote from The Orphan in his guise as Granville “Granny” Frazier on page 157 of Dave English’s book of Great Quotations on Flight entitled
Slipping the Surly Bonds.)
One great thing about being an independent contractor paperboy was the requirement to pay a percentage into a “bond” (which seemed a heavy burden at the time) until the bond came to the total of the up-front cost of the newspapers needed to service the route.
This paper route bond was forgotten over time until The Mother of The Orphan decided that The Orphan would “…go to college…” and the paper route money was then remembered and funded the tuition for the first quarter. (See Chapter Seventeen
of The Early Adventures.)
The Orphan learned the power of saved and reserved money and would never forget that lesson.
Later, at 16, 17 and 18, The Orphan, armed with a driver’s license, worked as a drive-out boy for first Douthet-Sanchez Pontiac and then Bluff City Buick – new car dealers. (In those days, when a new car was purchased – at a cost of $1,500 to $2,000 – the dealer did the maintenance as part of the sale and would
even have the drive-out boy take the customer home or shopping and later pick the customer up to return to the dealer.) It was also a time when gasoline was at a cost of $.10 to $.12 per gallon and, while an attendant filled the gas tank, a bevy of people checked the oil and fluids and cleaned all of the windows – some even vacuuming the interior – and all without a tip.
The Orphan learned many lessons from his drive-out boy adventures. One was from Mrs. Sanchez, the wife of one of the big bosses. The Orphan had picked her up after she had been on a shopping trip and, when she insisted on driving, accidentally sat on her hat in the rear seat. Mrs. Sanchez demanded that The Orphan be
fired for his clumsiness. The Dealership Manager came to The Orphan later and said,
“…you really frosted the old bitch and she wants you fired. You are not worth the grief I will get if I don’t – but you were not wrong and I have called Bluff City Buick down the street and you can start there tomorrow…”
The Orphan learned that it is good to work hard and have friends such as the Dealership Manager – especially when there are Mrs. Sanchezes in the world.
The Orphan used the earned resources from the plethora of jobs to buy an old upright piano, take piano lessons, buy oil paints, brushes and canvases to study painting (as well as learn to paint pictures at The Memphis Art Academy), attend Marjorie Duckett’s School of Dancing to learn “Acrobatic, Adagio, Tap and
Ballet Dancing” and buy a longbow, arrows, and a quiver to become an Archer. (Another horrid experience that resulted in the demise of another robin-red-breast marred this experience for The Orphan. The Orphan also learned that a dead robin-red-breast remained dead even though “it was an accident.”)
While working, The Orphan also attended School, Church and other events as well as playing with friends and cousins and other people.
But the Orphan was always tired.
One morning The Orphan lifted his arm to throw a paper and awakened in The Baptist Hospital. (After the Orphan was found passed out and carried to the hospital, the wonderful Mother finished throwing that day’s newspapers and continued to throw them each day as long as The Orphan was in the hospital.)
An analysis of the condition of The Orphan showed him to have two abscessed ears, to be infected with influenza, to be dehydrated and to be suffering from acute exhaustion. The Orphan’s kidneys were infected from their enormous task of filtering all the vile alien substances contained in the body of The Orphan.
This was when The Orphan was discovered to be allergic to penicillin – after a week of massive doses. The penicillin reaction was easily worse than all of the original ills combined.
The Orphan had already been suspicious of Doctors from his experience as a small child when The Orphan had had some things called tonsils and adenoids removed from his precious body by a butcher who probably worked in a slaughterhouse for his other job. If even ice cream could not be enjoyed after such a process,
there must be something evil about it.
Later The Orphan was to learn that tonsils and adenoids were valuable things and that the evil and unnecessary rites performed by the butcher were right up there with circumcision. Fortunately, neither Big Momma nor the Sorcerer, Doctor Ford, messed with The Orphan’s dink and it is still intact today in its original
But the penicillin experience confirmed The Orphan’s already wary opinion of Doctors and their infallibility and he has remained suspicious of them ever since.
The Orphan recovered with unscarred kidneys (and, as he would all the remainder of his life when it did not suit his ’druthers, ignored the lesson and resumed all of his activities) but he did not become sick again, for the penicillin had performed mighty feats against the alien substances before its direct attack
on The Orphan himself.
These school and work years continued to change The Orphan (somewhat) from The Shoeless Mississippi Farm boy to A City Boy With Shoes - but never many shoes -- and never completely changed.