Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A child selling a "Box of Stones" for 25¢

Ever wished you could go back in time and do something all over again because it would have been the right thing to do ?
Image from "A Journey to Jordan"

This little boy in the picture is selling small stones (rocks) on the edge of a marketplace in Petra Jordan. He's most likely imitating what he sees all the adults doing in the local market place selling fresh vegetables, clothing, etc. I chose the picture above because it reminded my of my son when he was around the same age selling rocks he had collected on some of our hiking trips in and around the San Bernardino National Forest when we lived in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. What triggered this memory of him was a song I just recently listened to written and sung by Benjamin Francis-Leftwich called, "A Box of Stones." More on that later at the end of my post. I suppose my son had gotten the idea of selling some rocks as a business because he had first hand watched me making a living selling bread & produce at some local markets & tourist places in western Riverside County. I often took him to work with me when he was two years old to the age of five in my Van. He stayed in a Car seat on the passenger side. I often stopped and took time out breaks at our favourite  locations like the Orange Empire Train Museum in Perris California. Other fun places were Nature spots along the National Forest highways when heading back home. Our life back then had numerous, "Like Father Like Son" moments.

Today people find little time for spending it with their children. But there are so many things that parents can do and share with their children that can have long lasting beneficial effects on their kids later in life. And not just parents, but adults in general can find numerous opportunities in daily life to encourage any young child they come across to go down a positive road which may be helpful later on in life. So I guess my son picked up on selling things and maintaining the merchandising displays from me. He often wanted assignments when we went into my customer's stores. The store owners & their employees often let him help stock the shelves and produce bins. He was four or five years old. Very early on he learn how to work and do chores, something sadly lacking in today's youth. Not all kids are fortunate enough to have adults acknowledge them and help them along. Take this one experience I had below at one of my customer locations in Romoland, California.

Photo - Ralph Martinez (2011)

This old produce stand above was called Mottes Romola Farms in Romoland California. It was a kool concept when local farmer Leon Motte and his wife built their produce stand concept. Leon and crew salvage several old barn and other buildings around the area along with railroad memorabilia like the old Boxcar on tracks used for storage. It was an old farm style concept patterned after another successful produce stand in Corona California called Tom's Farms. Both these tourist attractions were my customers. But this one experience I had with helping out a young boy from that area has always stayed with me. If you look at that photo above, the entrance has a ramp which gradually meets the parking lot. This one autumn in 1995, a young local boy from Romoland stood at the foot of that ramp selling a box of chocolates so that he could play with his team by purchasing a jersey so he could play baseball. For a month twice a week I came on a Monday and Thursday and there he stood. His face was often dirty as was his arms. His t-shirt and jeans were old and worn out with holes. Romoland was always a dumpy run down sort of community and the families who lived there were generally poor and on public welfare. Crime was a problem and I'm pretty certain family life wasn't exactly "Leave it to Beaver" world. But this little kid persisted and was determined. The majority of people ignored him as did I when I walk past and he'd ask me if I wanted to buy a candy bar. But one day after I said no thanks, I took note that he had more than the usual dejected look on his face that I had seen previously and when I went inside, I asked the store's owner what his story was. He said the little guy comes there every day about 11:00am and stands there for about three hours with most of the store's customers just ignoring him and not wishing to buy any of his candy, but he still came every day.
Andy Griffith Show - Opie & fredns selling salve
Companies have used kids all the time for selling various products in the old days. Not so much today, but if so then usually they are accompanied by a parent. Most kids fail at this. It's not even natural for adult people to cold call door to door. But a few come out ahead. I was one of those kids who did well. I felt bad about not purchasing the candy. After my delivery was finished, I looked for the boy, but he had already left. I found him crossing the field behind the produce stand. I ran after him and said I wanted to buy not just one, but five candy bars. (the candy was lousy) I figured that this boy coming from such a poor rough background and most likely tough home life, might be encouraged if someone showed a little interest in what he was doing. His face lit up with a smile. At least he wasn't out doing some sort of mischief activity as was common from this town. His situation  reminded me of an Andy Griffith episode where Opie and his friends were conned into selling salve which was a tough sell. I've often wondered what happened to that little kid and if what I did really made any difference. I'd like to think so. 

Image - Today's Parent
There are numerous opportunities in which any adult can encourage a child in a positive way. For example, have you ever realized that children can learn about giving from receiving ? They can be helped to learn the joys of giving, of serving, of sharing while they are still young enough to be molded. All adults, but especially parents, can help a child to see that there is real happiness to be found in giving, for example to you, to other children or to other grown-ups. Often times adults don't want to accept gifts from children, mistakenly thinking it shows love to let the children keep for themselves the gift they would given to them. But I once read something from the Awake magazine about one man who changed the way he viewed a child's giving:

“I used to refuse when a child offered me some of his candy. I thought I was being kind, not taking what I knew he liked so much. But when I refused and let him keep it all for himself, I didn’t see the joy I thought the child would show. Then I realized that I was rejecting his generosity, rejecting his gifts, and rejecting him. Thereafter I always accepted such gifts, to let him know the joys of giving.”

Image - The Andy Griffith Show

The photo above is Ron Howard's little brother who played Leon on the Andy Griffith Show. He was always offering Barney a bite of his gooey peanut butter sandwich. The gift was always rejected. Sometimes a little kid might offer you a piece of sticky yucky looking candy from their crusty looking bag. Next time try not rejecting the offer. Accept it and at least pretend to like it. You can disgreetly dispose of it when the child's not looking. Hopefully such an act will have a positive effect on a child who is forced to live in today's world of extreme negativity against children who no longer have an opportunity to grow up in an age of innocence. Back to the Benjamin Francis-Leftwich song, "Box of Rocks." It's both a lovely and painful song about losing a loved one. The lost loved one doesn't have to be about a sweetheart, but could easily be a friend or close family member. The song speaks of the imperfections and flaws of the one who was lost. Apparently in the song there were events which took place which revealed an incompatibility which interrupted the love and eventually lost. Sure enough we all have flaws. But in today's world, you have to try harder at making a difference in a world that encourages people to identify themselves by something they hate. Here's that sweet beautiful painful song "Box of Rocks" below.

Prior to moving over here to Sweden 11 years ago, I lost my son. I really wish all those years ago in 1994 when I came home tired from that long day's work that I had taken time to stop and buy one of those rocks from my 6 year old boy. Fortunately, my neighbour, Ray Rodriguez Jr, had just stopped his truck in the dirt road in front of our house where my boy had a box of rocks and signage saying "Rocks 25¢." He purchased one of those rocks. I really wish I had also bought one of those rocks too. Interestingly, this was that same summer when I bought the candy from that little kid from Romoland, California. Unfortunately it's too late. But not too late for someone else out there to do something encouraging with their child.

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