Stories and drawings
Howard Parris, son of Bryson and Almeda Ruppe Parris and grandson of Lafar and Beula Atkinson Ruppe, has many memories of his grandparents. One of his more vivid (and humorous) memories is of going "hog killing" with his grandpa.
Howard was often around and observed the process. He was proud that his grandfather was good enough so that people would come to get him to help them, and to his young, inexperienced mind, this seemed an exciting thing to do. He begged to be allowed to go along and help, but was always refused until he was about six or seven years old, when his begging finally wore his grandfather down.
Howard Parris said his Grandmother Beula did not approve of anyone drinking, and although he did not overindulge, his Grandfather Lafar liked to take a nip now and then. Lafar had developed a smoker’s cough, and once, after going to the doctor for an totally unrelated illness, he told Beula that the doctor told him taking a nip of spirits for medicinal purposes each evening may help his cough. Lafar was able to take his little nip without upsetting Beula, since she was fine with it because the doctor had prescribed it.
Howard said Lafar did many unselfish things for him. One summer, Howard wanted to earn some money by raising watermelons and selling them. His father said he couldn't do it, since they only had an old mule to work a field, and no tractor. Lafar had a Farmall tractor, but no trailer on which to move it. He drove his tractor all the way from Cliffside to State Line and plowed the field across the road for Howard’s watermelon patch. He helped Howard plant the field, and later came back to plow it before the vines grew too long, again driving the tractor all the way from Cliffside to do so. Howard set up a stand and sold the watermelons down beside the road.
Howard wanted a bicycle when he was a young boy, and his father always said he did not need one, and they could not afford one. There really was very little extra money over and above basic living expenses, but Bryson had another reason that he did not tell Howard. He once had a young relative who had an accident on his bicycle in which he was thrown headfirst onto the road. His skull was fractured, and he died from his injury. Because of this, Bryson feared for his son’s safety, and would not buy a bicycle for him.
His Grandpa Lafar's gift had a far-reaching effect on Howard's young life. He could see the bicycle opening up all sorts of opportunities for him. He knew boys who had grit newspaper routes, and made good money at it. The papers were sold to the customer for fifteen cents, but cost the boys only nine cents. This meant that for each paper they delivered, they got to keep a whopping six cents. With a bike for transportation, he could have a route, too, and could see himself earning lots of spending money.
After almost two years, the realities of the newspaper delivery business began to set in. Some people never seemed to be at home to pay for their paper. Since Howard had to pay for them whether he collected for them or not, his estimate of earnings possibilities each week had to be lowered a bit. His customers expected their Grit to be delivered, come rain or shine, and the weather did not always cooperate. With no fender to deflect the water thrown up by a bicycle's rear wheel when it rains, one's back can quickly become uncomfortably wet, which can become very discouraging. During one heavy rain, he had to wrap the Grit sack in a heavy cloth to keep the papers dry. What finally brought his newspaper career to an end, however, was not dead-beat customers, and was not Mother Nature, but free enterprise.
He was faced with a hard business decision. It took him six hours of pretty hard pedaling on his bike to earn the $1.20 he made on the 20 papers he normally sold each week. He only had to sell 40 Coca-Colas and pick up the empties to make that amount, which would not be hard to do. In addition he would have no hills to ride up, and no worry about collecting his money. After this comparison, Howard decided the wiser course was to give up his paper route.
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