I grew up in Sunbury, PA back in the mid sixties early seventies. Just like most kinds, I often did odd jobs to raise a few dollars. I received an allowance, but I wanted to earn more. It is for this reason that I started a paper route. It went well until someone started stealing my customers’ payments from under their front porch rugs. I never did find out who it was. It cut in to my profits enough that I quit the route.
I often shoveled sidewalks in the winter to earn money. It was a lot of fun. I would get bundled up and head out. I had a lot of repeat customers, and usually benefited from word of mouth. I took an ice chopper with me and did a very thorough job. Typically, I earned five dollars per sidewalk. Sometimes I would shovel up to six sidewalks before I quit. It all depended on how frozen I was.
On one occasion I shoveled sidewalks with my brother. When we got done we headed down to Market Street to J.J. Newberry’s. They had a luncheonette which served ice cream. I ordered a hot fudge sundae and my brother ordered a banana split. Strange, you might say. It was winter, blizzard conditions outside, and we were sitting at the counter at Newberry’s eating ice cream. Mom thought we were crazy, but we didn’t mind the cold at all. Well, that is not until we went back outside in clothes wet from snow and sweating from the activity. The damp cold would go right through us. We would walk home after ice cream and change into dry clothes and drink hot chocolate.
My brother and I had a soft spot for animals growing up. We joined the Junior A.S.P.C.A. We would go around the neighborhood looking for animals in distress. We also cleaned up roadkill and gave the critters a proper burial. Dad made us a small placard painted white with strips of red reflector tape. I hooked a wagon to my bicycle and headed out. We called our service the Animal Rescue Squad. When we found a dead animal, we’d stop and put our placard out. I’d put on a pair of gardening gloves and pick up the critter, placing it in the wagon.
We were in the middle of a rescue operation one day near the veterinary office in our block when we saw an elderly lady wandering around calling for her cat. It had jumped from her arms on her way in to the veterinarian. We immediately jumped into action, helping her look for the cat. We found it after twenty minutes and brought it back to her. She was overjoyed. She opened her purse and got out her wallet, offering us a reward. We turned it down, saying we only wanted to help out of our love for animals. She asked for our mailing address so she could send us a thank you card. Five days later we received an envelope with a card in it. Inside was a check for fifty dollars!
Guess what we did to celebrate? Yep. We went to Newberry’s and had ice cream. Our rescue squad adventures were never meant to be a way to earn money. It just worked out in this instance. We wrote a letter to the Junior A.S.P.C.A. describing our rescue of the lady’s cat, and they published a notice in the monthly newsletter. We were beaming with pride. Our rescue efforts had taken on a new meaning. Not only did we remove dead animals from the streets in our neighborhood, we also helped people look for lost pets. To this day, I have a place in my heart for animals.