I was thrilled! "How big a tree does she want?" I asked.
When Dad asked what size, Mrs. Venable just tapped her shoulder. I could easily manage to saw a small tree, as tall as Mrs. Venable wanted, and carry it from the woods alone. Dad would deliver it with her milk order after he dropped Jim and me off at University Elementary School at Sixth Street and Conley Avenue.
When Mom came for us that day, after 4 p.m., she said, "Some of Mrs. Venableís neighbors will want fresh cedars that smell up the whole house, as hers does."
Mom gave gave me their orders on dairy receipts so I could keep a record of my first sales endeavor. I was very busy with that, but suddenly it was Christmas morning. One customer had not paid, did not plan to pay and became quiet each time I knocked at her front door; she still owed me for the tree. When I knocked, the children in the home became suddenly quiet and giggly or pulled a window curtain back to peek out. What should I do?
I stooped, picked up my tree and wrote the address to remind me to not ever stop there again. I took that tree and tied it onto the car while Mom waited patiently, allowing me to deal with my failure alone. In our country farmís long driveway, we stopped at a gully, and I discarded that cedar tree where it would improve our farm by helping to slow the erosion that started the small gully.
My bottle-washing task was waiting by the time I had changed to overalls. I was learning to "not sweat the small stuff."
After Dad paid me for rinsing bottles daily, I added my weekly quarter to the rattle of tree payments and mentioned that food and overalls cost money. His eyes twinkled, and I never forgot his financial know-how.
After Christmas, he took me to the Columbia Savings Bank to meet the man who put my money away. Was his name Beanie Hunt? I have forgotten. I was eager to save money, and he was patient with this country kid who wasnít afraid of work.
As time went on, I saved money from picking gooseberries, gathering black walnuts and stomping the outer hulls off with old tennis shoes on my feet.
One time, after paying $5 for a semester of swimming at the University Womenís Gymnasium on Hitt Street, I checked out the required gray cotton bathing suit - with longish legs - showered and went splash, splash, splashing toward the deep end.
That was my own version of swimming, and I had paid the fee, but Ruby Cline stopped me and sent me back to the shallow end of the pool, saying, "Sue, thatís not swimming - go back to the shallow end with the beginners."
This young lady still had had a lot to learn!