Canaan Years - Babysitting, Housecleaning, and Sweeping Trailers

Every teenager wants money. I was no exception. On a pastor's salary, my parents didn't have any extra money for allowances or the latest fashions. We had to scrimp and save just for necessities.

I cleaned house for a teacher for a couple months, but I didn't like it. (still don't like cleaning house) It was frustrating to see it as messy as it was if they were trying to make things difficult for me. (smile) Also, I found it creepy to be in a house alone, so I turned on the TV. (Remember, we didn't have one at home.) That's when I learned that soap operas were stupid.

I also babysat for the Ames family. They had four children and lived on a farm. The youngest was born soon after we moved to Canaan, and I became very attached to her. She called me "My Yvonne." (She was later the flower girl in my wedding.) Often their parents would go out on Saturday evenings. I remember watching "Emergency" and "Kojak" with the kids before they went to bed. Then I'd watch the "Carol Burnett Show" while I waited for their parents. If they didn't return by midnight, they gave me an extra dollar. (When you only earn $2/hour, that is a lot.)

Once I babysat some kids across the street in an apartment made from an old hotel. The parents were out of state and asked me to stay overnight because they were caught in a snowstorm. It wouldn't have been too bad, but the 10 year old boy just told me that he had talked with a ghost with his Ouija board, and that it lived in one of the rooms of the old hotel. The parents said I could sleep in the spare bedroom, but I wasn't about to go upstairs! I stayed on the couch and didn't sleep a wink that night.

A man in our church sold camping trailers. He hired me one summer. The business was a few miles out of town, and I didn't have my license or a car, of course. My mother suggested that I paddle up the nearby stream that also bordered his business. I didn't mind, especially since he also sold kayaks and let me use one. Some day it was fun. Other days, it was drizzly and cold and
not so fun.

I always dreaded climbing into the kayak with my bare feet - hoping a spider or other animal didn't decide it would be a nice home. Also, when I reached his land, I had to wade through a marshy area at the water's edge. (I was glad we didn't have to worry about snakes or alligators.)

I swept dirt out of the trailers - which people tracked in when they looked at them. Sometimes, I worked behind the desk in the office. Once, I even went to a trade show with him. It was one of the few times I ever had a W2 Form and paid into social security. It was also the first time I worked more than played through a summer. I felt cheated out of my free time before I had to go back to school in the fall.

Money was tight, but it we appreciated things more.

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