An Enterprising Young Lad

June 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Culture, Family History | 12 Comments
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Superman 04

When I was in primary (elementary) school, my enterprising older brother decided he wanted to make some money. It was the second half of the 1950s in rural Australia, and Peter was about eleven or twelve years old.

Phantom 05Peter knew that kids who wouldn’t read books did read comics. He was an avid reader of books, but loved comics too. They were popular, but a little expensive for struggling families to buy on a regular basis. Peter decided he might be able to make a little pocket-money while also providing a cheaper alternative.

Somehow, he managed to get together a reasonable selection of used comics, and these provided his base stock. The idea was not to sell them – he would soon be out of stock if he did. No, he was going to exchange them – at a cost, of course.
Peter stacked his pile of comics into his billycart and took them out around the streets of our town and one a couple of miles away. Because both were small, but with many young post-war migrant families, Peter knew that there would be plenty of kids who would love to get their hands on the comics he could provide.

Depending on the size and condition of the comics he exchanged (both those outgoing and those coming in), he would charge between a penny (one cent) and threepence (just under 3 cents) for each one.
Billycart 01
Peter did his arounds regularly for a while, but I don’t remember how long he kept it up and how successful this enterprise was, though I think it went well for a while at least.

Getting the whole story can be difficult at times, especially when he lives in another state and doesn’t have a telephone. However, when I think about his creativity and initiative, I realise there is a lesson in it:
Opportunities can be created when someone sees an unmet need and finds a way to fulfill it.
create your own opportunities

Have you seen examples of creative enterprise in a youngster? How did it turn out? Are there opportunities these days for the young to exercise initiative?
Were you a comic person when you were a youngster?

© Linda Visman 24.06.14


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  1. So true Linda. The ability to see an opportunity and then to work it in a way which enables it to produce fruit is a gift in itself.

    Loved the picture of that little cart. Brought back so many memories. We used to build them as kids, exactly like that. Always were looking for pram wheels. 🙂

    • It is nice to bring back those good memories, isn’t it Don! I remember always looking fro pram wheels when my 5 boys were young too. They loved their billy cart. Now, we look for them to make a cart for the grandkids. However, unfortunately, they all live far away. I just hope some of them will have one to play with – great fun. They also teach one to be a bit careful 🙂

      • You’re right Linda, it was such fun. We used to call them Kas – Karre. “kas” in Afrikaans (a language we speak in South Africa) means “box” and “karre” means cars, so “box-cars.” 🙂

      • We all have our local names for common “inventions” that kids have used for many years. Thanks for that, Don. 🙂

  2. My parents only allowed me to read the Classics Illustrated Comics. I envied kids who had copies of Superman and Batman. My daughters bought their registered weenie dogs by hosting toy ‘garage’ sales.

    • I loved the Classics Illustrated comics, but because Peter had the others, I could read them too. 🙂
      Good to hear of your daughters’ initiative. Working for what you want is a great teacher of personal responsibility and the value of things. 🙂

  3. The nearest I got to a comic was the Look and Learn magazines but they were dog-eared and well-loved. I can remember selling home made orange juice on the side of the road at a small table my brother and I had set up – it had a red gingham cloth, even!

  4. I wasn’t into comics when I was young but my father and his older brother started a little printing press and put out a magazine (not sure what was in it and it was probably only a few pages of stories, jokes) but they sold the copies out of a billy cart too!

  5. it’s wonderful to see initiative rewarded.
    Yes, I liked comics. The Phantom and Superman were my favourites. Not very feminine…but then, I liked toy trains. 🙂

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