Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rich Men's Folly

It was a seasonal business with summer being busy, and winter not so much.  Life guard service?  No, it was a mobilehome sales and service.  I worked there, making a decent living for about 25 years from 1970 through 1995.  As I had no control over the vagaries of the business, I only have vague knowledge of its ups and downs, but one could get a feeling of the success, or lack of, at any given time by several separate factors.  Whether in a state of euphoria over high sales, or a feeling of gloominess prevailed when times were slower, the company stayed alive.  After I medically retired in 1995 the company managed to remain active without me, and lasted another dozen years or so with little change.

It was a family business started by a middle-aged couple in 1956.  Around 20 years later it was turned over to two sons who kept it thriving.  By the middle of the first decade of this century the sons were of a retirement age and decided to sell the business.  It was sold to another family with much the same history.

During the 1950s this family also started a business of selling used cars.  That business had been built to become the largest new car dealership in the area, and then turned over to 4 sons who kept it thriving for many years.  The 4 sons decided to buy the mobilehome business as an addition to the car dealership.

Within 2 years the mobilehome business was bankrupt.  Now this was a business that had a reputation as a fine place to do business with.  It had sold homes for over 50 years, and was yet going strong.  The new owners had also been associated with a business that had lasted over 50 years.  Why then was it suddenly impossible to keep the doors open?  Obviously people yet needed housing.  New families were still beginning. 

At least part of the answer is the housing market took a terrible downfall all over the United States, causing bank failures to match.  But, why?  What suddenly changed?  Nothing!  The main reason for this almost catastrophic event is due to monetary speculation among rich people wanting to be richer, although having control of scads of money has no real purpose.  It is nothing more than a few people playing with the lives of millions of their fellow space travelers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool

I believe it was 1984, but I’m not certain it was.  It was April first, I am certain of that.  We were lounging around on a Sunday morning shortly after finishing breakfast.  Our antique wood-burning cook stove which we used for kitchen heat all winter was burning softly on a reasonably mild day.  I was standing near it warming my backside while my wife sat at the kitchen table reading the Sunday paper.  My two younger children ages 12 and 16 were there also.

Suddenly my wife Nora said, “I smell something burning!”

Although my odor detection ability is not as good as most peoples, I said, “Look, I wasn’t born yesterday.  I know it is April Fool’s Day, and I don’t smell anything.”

All was quiet for a minute or two as we continued our activities as little as they were.  My wife spoke again, “I can smell something burning.”

Detecting the rising panic in her tone, I decided this was no apparent joke.  My son Carl spoke, “Dad I smell something hot too.”

Immediately suspecting the cook stove area I looked upward to see a wisp of smoke near the stove pipe at the ceiling level.  I grabbed a dish off the breakfast table, filled it with water, and threw it up at the smoky area.  At the same time I asked Carl to run upstairs and check the pipe area from above.  I continued to toss bowlfuls of water at the smoke around the pipe near the ceiling.

Carl hollered down that he had found a small rubber toy touching the hot pipe.  He moved it away, and watched it carefully as it cooled, before bringing it down the stairs.  The excitement was all over, and soon we calmed down, but none of us ever forgot the April Fool’s joke that wasn’t.