The other day while driving around town, I was surprised to see the number of groups holding a car wash.
That must be a pretty popular fundraiser, I thought, seems like there was one in almost every parking lot.
I was reminded of a fundraiser my older brother Larry was involved in. He was in the Boy Scouts, and his troop was having a paper drive to raise money. The Scouts in his troop would collect newspapers, and then bring them to our house where they were piled on the back porch.
Soon the room was filled with papers, leaving only a narrow path leading to the basement stairs. I don't think my parents were aware of the amount of papers that would be collect when they agreed to the plan.
Dad soon became very unhappy with the arrangement.
"When are you going to get those papers out of here?" he would ask.
Larry, of course, had no ready answer. Other times he would complain about them being a fire hazard and a death trap (usually when he tried to negotiate the path to the basement). I believe he was afraid that they might collapse on him and his body would never be discovered.
It was not long before Larry would disappear when dad was home. He would only appear at meal times, then vanish, trying to stay far away from dad and his complaints.
Finally, one Saturday morning, a large truck backed into our driveway, and several of the Scouts began loading the paper.
"Be sure they don't take my papers," dad warned.
Dad would save newspapers. Everyday he would carefully re-assemble it and stack it on a shelf in the baseball room.
The baseball room was dad's hobby room. It was originally a small pantry that was left from when he remodeled the kitchen.
On one wall were numerous framed photographs of the World Series championship baseball teams. On the other side were shelves where he also kept the materials and tools for building model airplanes.
About every other month, he would take the pile of papers out of the room, carefully tie them in a bundle, and add them to a large stack on a shelf by the basement door. Occasionally he would take a stack and carefully go through each paper, reading about past events or clipping out a baseball story, which he would then place in a scrapbook. There were big books, and he must have had at least 10 of them.
I would envy my sister, Frances. She was in the Girl Scouts and would actively participate in their annual cookie drive. Every day after school, she would hurry home, load up as many boxes of cookies as she could carry and go out selling them door to door. She would sell hundreds of boxes, enough to pay for summer camp.
I was green with envy when she went to camp. There wasn't much to do at home, and the summer days seemed to drag by.
Frances would come home, filled with stories of her adventures and the things she had done. One year she gave mom a beautiful hand tooled leather belt she had made.
Mom loved it. She kept it handy for those times she felt I needed an attitude adjustment.
One time she felt the need to use it on Frances. That was amazing all by itself.
Frances never got into trouble, talked back or caused any problem. If you were to look up "goody two shoes" in the dictionary, you would see her picture. I was always being compared to her.
"Why can't you be like your sister?" my folks would say.
At those times, I hated her. Then the belt disappeared.
I asked Frances about it one time, and she admitted that she had taken it and hid it. She had not liked the idea that mom would use it on her.
Mom was also involved in Girl Scouts. Sometimes as a troop leader, occasionally as a cookie chairwoman.
I loved those times.
A truck would drive up and deliver dozens of cases of cookies, which were then stacked in the hallway near the front door. Mom would be responsible for the accounting; but despite her best efforts, she would find that four or five boxes of mint or sandwich cookies had been spirited away.
Finally, I was old enough to join the Boy Scouts. One year our Scoutmaster had an idea for raising money for the troop. Somehow he had come across some cases of light bulbs, fly swatters and some fuzzy children's puzzles.
The members of our troop jumped at the opportunity and we all went out, selling them door to door. Maybe it was our enthusiasm, or perhaps the low price, but we sold them all in a few days.
We were all pleased with our success, and asked if he could get some more. He said he would try, but never did. I never did get to go to Scout camp.
A few years later I joined the Civil Air Patrol. This was not unlike the Boys Scouts, except I would get a chance to go flying, maybe.
One year there was an Air Fair at the local airport, and us CAP cadets were asked to help in selling raffle tickets. Of course we accepted.
The day of the fair, I proudly donned my freshly pressed and creased uniform. Checking the shine on my shoes, I reported to the building where we met to get my share of tickets.
Although there were already a large number of visitors wandering around the airport checking out the various planes on display, I was not able to sell many tickets. Then I got the idea of going over to the parking lot and trying to sell them there.
This worked out great. I was able to sell to almost everyone who came in.
After about an hour, our leader came over and made me stop. It seems people had got the idea that they had to buy a ticket to get in. Talk about a failure to communicate.
So here I was driving around town admiring the enthusiasm of the various entrepreneurs, and then I began looking for potential customers. As I looked closely at the cars I passed, I began to form a new opinion about the charity and generosity of the drivers.
Those fundraisers must be doing very well, I thought, because of the hundreds of cars I passed that day, I failed to see one that needed to be washed.