When Grandpa John Was a Kid - A Front Yard Pop Stand

In the fall of 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was overwhelmingly elected to a second term. In December I turned nine. My daddy, short on formal education, had not been able to find much work for several years after the beginning of the depression. My mother finally went to work as a schoolteacher. Later my daddy landed a tag agency job, after helping elect a friend to the state legislature. My year-older brother, my year-younger sister, and I were never aware that times were hard.

Spring had passed and school was out for the summer of 1937. With a few scrap boards, several wooden orange-crates (free from the grocery store), and a piece of canvas for a roof, we built a pop stand in our front yard. A case of twenty-four bottles of Royal Crown was delivered by truck for eighty cents. Among the half dozen RC flavors was even chocolate. If we sold every bottle for a nickel, we grossed $1.20 for a forty cent profit. After selling several cases of pop, business slowed so we closed the stand.

One morning during the same summer, my brother Wallace and I asked our mother if we could fix a lunch and go on a hike. A mile and a half north and east from our house was Edgemere golf course (the present location of the First Christian Church of Oklahoma City). As we walked the dry creek bed through the golf course, we found a fifty foot long pipe spanning the creek.

My good judgment of today had not yet arrived. A challenge was there to be overcome, so I began hand-walking the pipe which was about ten feet above the creek bottom. A few feet short of the other side, my hands tired. I slipped and fell, spraining my right ankle.

With my brotherís help, I headed for home. After a few blocks, I could walk no further, so Wallace and I sat down on the sidewalk step. Before long a stranger came out of her house to check on us, and, seeing our plight, took us home in her car.

Doctors were only for major emergencies. The nursing of my mother soon had me walking again. Today I wonder if having more arthritis in my right ankle than I do in my left is payment for that dayís adventure so long ago.

Every Sunday during the summer, after an opening exercise of the Wesley Methodist primary department, I gathered in a small room with the other fourth grade boys. A patient, kindly teacher offered each of us a penny a week to memorize a verse from the first Psalm. After six weeks, she had rewarded me with six cents. If her pennies hadnít run out, Iím certain I would have memorized the entire book of Psalms.

Copyright 1998 by John C. Westervelt

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