A post on Face Book today got me to thinking of the past:
I grew up on a farm west of Caldwell, Idaho. There were four of us, my brother, Dad, Mom and I. When I was just a small boy my father explained to me in order for the farm to work every one must do their fair share. So I learned what my fair share was.
Every morning I got up, made my bed, got ready for school or if none school day got ready for whatever there was to do. My daily chores were to feed the chickens, gather the eggs. A couple times a week I had to set the supper table, and another couple days it was my turn to clear the table and help with the dishes. In the summer my brother and I shared mowing the lawn, clipping grass around the bushes and such – this was every week. Along with this we also helped plant, weed the garden and when time came harvest what we’d grown. We usually grew enough vegetables to last the winter. We’d also help pick, prepare and can fruit. Come fall there was always chickens we’d butcher, pluck and put in the freezer. All this along with the things around the farm like fixing fence, cleaning ditch, cleaning chicken house and whatever work was needed around the farm. All of this was done for no pay – as Dad explained it took all of us to do our part. If I wanted money I had to arrange extra work with Dad or Mom.
One Saturday when I was around five years old or so we were in town. I’d seen something in the store I really wanted and ask Dad if I could have it. “Sure”, he said, “What are you going to pay for it with?” I looked at him and said I knew he had money and could pay, he then replied, “I don’t want it, why should I pay?” He then finished with, “If you want money we can arrange extra work you can do to earn money, nothing is for free.” So I started to earn money. Dad divided up the farm in two and my brother got half and I got half to trap gophers. He paid us twenty five cents a tail. We each had an old band-aid can in the freezer we’d put our tails in. Every so often Dad would take them to the irrigation district and collect the money for them, which we received. Cutting thistles out of the pastures was also another job we got paid for, along with other jobs we’d arrange. In 1963 we took summer trip to Disney Land in California – and I had my own spending money! As we began the trip there were so many things I wanted to buy, and I remember Dad saying to me: “It’s your money to spend how you like, but remember when it’s gone there’s no more.” This would make me think and I learned how to make my money last for the entire trip.
After we sold the farm and moved to Greenleaf I did odd jobs to make money: mowing lawns, cleaning ditch(shovel in hand), I worked on a crew training hops (was the only white kid on a crew of Mexicans), pulled weeds out of mint fields for Cecil Benford, cleaned chicken houses for Mr. Harris and worked in his orchard, irrigated fields for Chet Harris, milked cows for different ones while they were on vacation and so many more. The summer I was 15yrs old, Mom, Dad, my brother were all working “real jobs”, so my main job around the house was cooking supper which was not a paying job, but Mom said, “Someday you will appreciate knowing how to cook.” As usual she was right.
When my brother and I got our driver’s license, Dad got another family car and gave the old ’61 Chevy Impala to us. He said he’d keep the insurance in his name but we had to pay it. We also had to buy the gas, oil, tires and service. If we didn’t have enough money for up keep we weren’t to come to him for money, the car could just set – that’s the way it was. Soon my brother bought himself a pickup and I got myself a ’69 Camero. Never did we ever ask Dad for money.
The year I was in 5th grade I attended Washington school in Caldwell, Idaho. One day during our noon break I was out on the playing field with a few other boys I hung around with. One of the guys looked at me and ask, “How much allowance do you get from your Dad and Mom?” I looked at him, “What’s an allowance?” He said, “You know, the money you get every week for making your bed, cleaning your room or just spending money from your parents?” I proceeded to tell him and the others I got no allowance. All that stuff was my responsibility and if I didn’t do it, well Dad had a punishment for that. I also explained all the work I had to do as it was my fair share, and if I wanted money I had to arrange other work to do. They all looked at me with strange looks shaking their heads in disbelief. Each of the other boys stated they all got an allowance.
A few years ago it was like getting hit in the head with a brick – I now understand who’s running our Government – it’s all those kids who never had to work and received other people’s money for something they never did.

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