Recollections of a Kid

Cheezies by the carton

TERRY THORNE

With two shows a week at the Log Cabin, plus the necessary snacks to sustain me through nearly two hours of laughter and suspense twice a week, I was under constant pressure to stretch my meager financial resources so as to adequately ‘feed’ my habits.

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 My fifty-cents-a-week allowance for doing chores at home was my only regular reliable source of income: taking out the compost, burning the burnables and doing the dishes–my sister, Sandra, and I constantly quibbled over who would wash and who would dry. At twenty-five cents a show my allowance covered my weekly movie admissions.

 Babysitting income, through the early ‘50s, pretty much took care of my necessary show-snack requirements–at least until I got into the egg business.

Irwin Nichols, my Aunt Mabel's oldest son, was at the time the PGE station agent in Lillooet. He and wife, Irene, and toddler daughter, Karen, lived in the apartment above the station’s offices. 

 From time to time I would babysit Karen. I seemed to always be asleep when Irwin and Irene returned home but still, they paid me; and paid me handsomely. Sometimes I experienced pangs of guilt, what with sleeping on the job and still getting paid, but thankfully the pangs were never quite strong enough to insist, or even suggest, on a lesser amount.

 Thus, I managed to get by… but just.

 Suddenly, almost out of the blue–actually off the afternoon train–a possible answer to my financial woes presented itself.

 Stepping from the train one early fall day was a salesman from Liberty Magazine. He made his way to the nearby Holuk’s Café (Lillooet Coffee Bar) where he encountered several of us out front. We were invited in and, once settled in a large booth, pops were ordered (“Orange Crush for me, please”) courtesy of Liberty. He told us we would soon be incredibly rich; instant wealth, with little or no effort. All we had to do was go door-to-door throughout town selling Liberty; a weekly glossy magazine billed as “Canada's Young Family Magazine.”

Everyone wants a subscription,” he claimed.

 Each of us was armed with a sample copy, an order pad to record the subscribers’ details and a small card on which he printed our name; introducing us as official, bona fide representatives of Liberty Magazine. It was simple: sell a subscription, complete the order form, drop it in the mail and a cheque from Liberty would be on its way by return post. What a deal! We could hardly wait to get started. … Would one order pad be enough? … For today?  He bade us goodbye and headed for the station to catch the southbound train.

 We shot from the front door of the café like racehorses from a starting gate; scattering in all directions as fast as our pedals or legs would allow. The secret, I reckoned, was to knock on every door in town before the next guy. I was going to be rich; able to buy Cheezies by the carton. Often my presentation didn't go as smoothly as I wished–what with panting and gasping for breath. On occasion two of us would arrive on the same doorstep at roughly the same time shouting for the order like dueling auctioneers–we hadn’t, as yet, mastered the art of professional courtesy.

 By dinnertime I still wasn't rich; hadn’t the opportunity to experience the hand-shaking excitement of filling out my first order form and, overcome with hunger, decided to call it a day which brought to a close my career as an official, bona fide representative of Liberty Magazine.

Dennis Moberg, however, persisted and became the premier Liberty salesman in town overseeing a client base of several customers.

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