Vintage typewriter with blank sheet of paper retro technology

— John Moore is a Whitehouse resident. Email him at John@TheCountryWriter.com. To buy his book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” or to listen to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, visit www.TheCountryWriter.com.

I’m seeing lemonade stands again.

At a time when all you seem to hear is that the number of young people quitting their jobs is growing, I’m seeing young folks setting up to sell lemonade.

It makes me smile. And I stop and buy some.

My first exposure to good old capitalism was when I was about 8 and my sister was 6. I saw a kid on TV selling lemonade, so I told my mother that I wanted to set up a lemonade stand.

Of course, I had no thoughts of start-up capital to buy the lemons, sugar, cups, poster board for a sign or anything else. My father brought that up and asked how I was going to fund all that. I explained that he would do it for me.

So a deal was struck to provide me with the needed items to start my first business, provided I would include my sister.

We set about (with our mother’s direction) acquiring the right number of lemons, cups and a few bags of sugar. We made a sign, borrowed our parents’ card table and a couple of chairs.

And on one very warm 1960s summer morning, we set up shop.

Beech Street wasn’t the busiest street in town, but it got quite a bit of traffic. People used it to cut through from the main highway into town if they were headed to Lake Millwood. Townsfolk used it as a shortcut for reaching the two grocery stores or, heading the other way, a shortcut to the elementary and high schools.

Within minutes of opening for business, the cars began to stop. Lots of them. And the reality of trying to actually coordinate putting ice in cups and then filling them with lemonade, all while taking money and making change, set in.

I attempted to manage my little sister by giving her directions on what she could be doing, but 6-year-olds don’t take directions well. Especially from a brother.

We charged a nickel for a cup, so when people gave me a quarter, I had to give the right change. Except when people told me to keep it, which confused me because I was unfamiliar with the concept of tipping.

A couple of older customers gave me a whole dollar for a cup.

I was in high cotton.

But by noon, I had a bag full of money and was ready for retirement. I wanted to cool off before the 3:30 afternoon movie came on.

My parents were having none of that. I had wanted a lemonade stand, so I had to see it through. There was no quitting.

As the sweat stuck my then-blonde hair to my head and also ran down my face, I kept up the pace and served each customer.

My sister got cranky, so she went down for a nap. When I asked if I could take a nap I was reminded that I had negotiated my way out of naps the year before, insisting that I was too old for them.

It seemed that cars either all came at once or there were no customers at all. The ebb and flow of business traffic was not something I had expected. I thought everyone would want to come buy my lemonade and then when I ran out, I could go inside and still catch the 3:30 afternoon movie.

Nope. My mother bought plenty of supplies, and so the day went on.

Save for lunch and a couple of necessary breaks, the lemonade stand demanded my full attention that day. As supper time approached I was glad to start breaking things down and close up shop.

I don’t recall how much money we brought in or how much lemonade we made, but I do remember that I gained a clear understanding of hard work.

Nothing’s changed since my initial entrepreneurial outing. Hard work is still what it takes to succeed.

That’s why when I see a kid with the initiative to set up a lemonade stand, or any other type of business, I stop and buy from them. I also tip, and I say a prayer of thanks.

Hard work is what made America great. It’s why we have an amazing history of invention, development, and success. I seize any opportunity to nudge a young person in that direction.

Kids need to learn that when life hands you lemons, don’t give up, just make some lemonade.

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— John’s new book, Puns for Groan People, and his books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on his website — TheCountryWriter.com. You can also send him a message and hear his weekly podcast.

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