My golden business opportunity appeared in the back of a Superman comic book. I was perusing the latest issue when the ad in the back screamed, “Make Money Now. Win valuable prizes selling our salve to friends and family.” The ad in the comic book boasted that the salve “cures everything from athletes’ foot to zygomycosis.” I did the math; I knew my times tables. At a quarter a tube I’d only need to sell 1200 tubes to get a horse. I knew I’d found a winner. I filled out the entry blank with care. I ordered the maximum number of cases allowed, and filling in my address and postal code. I borrowed a stamp and envelope from Mom and walked to the corner mailbox. I dropped it in the slot and waited for the salve to arrive.
And arrive my order did —crates and crates came to the house while I was at school one day. Mom did not blink when the deliveryman rang the doorbell. “Take it all back—she’s seven.” The deliveryman nodded, “I’ve got a kid, too.” When I came home, Mom asked what I thought I was doing. I patiently explained my master plan to hitch up horses in the cement back yard and she laughed and repeated the words lethal to my business plan, “We live in an apartment, you can’t keep a pet here. It’s cruel.”
My days as a child tycoon ended before they began. This temporary setback did not deter me from my course of action. I kept my hand in by clipping coupons from the cornflake box, and sending away for toys like plastic submarines. I filled the little subs with baking soda and sent them diving in our enormous bathtub on legs. Barb kept track of the drawings and contests announced on the kids’ shows.
Then they announced a drawing on WGN TV. Some lucky girl or boy whose name would be selected would win a dog. Not just any dog—a cocker spaniel. A dog wasn’t a horse or a cat, but a dog was enough for me. I knew Mom would never let me have a cat, but maybe I could get her to agree to the dog if I caught her while she was on the phone.
A large desk stood in the apartment foyer. Mom said it belonged to Daddy when he attended boarding school at Campion in Wisconsin. It was filled with writing supplies, postcards, stamps, pencils, and pens. Mom said no one would move it down the three flights of stairs and out of the apartment. There was a stove stuffed in the front closet so I believed her. I found a postcard and filled out my name and address. I said I wanted a dog. I wanted to give him a good home and would feed and walk him every day. I addressed it to the television station and walked to the corner to the mailbox that I kept busy with my entry blanks. I crossed my fingers and dropped it in the box.
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