Summer Jobs, Change, and Memories

Summer Jobs, Change, and Memories Grass

Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…

Pass It On – June 3, 2019



It’s an elder’s curse, isn’t it?

The older you get, the more memories matter, but dadgummit if it doesn’t get harder every day to remember what I had for breakfast yesterday much less the reminiscings of my occasionally misspent youth.

This time of year takes me back to a time I hope I have noggined up there forever… the start of summer after 4thgrade there in Dongola. I’d gotten my first job at the ripe old age of 10… which, and this is a different story for a different day… but I suppose today they’d have pitchforks out for my Dad for having me get a job that young… or anytime before the age of 29…

But, anyway, I digress… I loved to work right from the get-go… I loved the sense of pride in delivering those Southern Illinoisans to those 29 customers I got from Gary… I believe his last name was… Gray?… dadgum memories… yes! Gary Gray… I loved serving those customers… delivering dry papers on wet days and greeting folks with smiles and collecting change as I, myself, began to change… even if I didn’t know it at the time.

We never do, do we?

I loved serving those customers

At 12 my brother Mike and I diversified our entrepreneurial endeavors by heading over to Cape and picking up a push lawnmower. We mowed lawns that summer after sixth grade and had grown the paper route to 109 customers. That’s a lot more change… in more ways than one.

We learned a lot those summers… about life and work and responsibility.

I do think some of that is missing today… sad to say… I see it in the scarlet letter placed upon a career in the skilled trades, for example.

Somewhere, somehow, somewhen it feels like we lost our way a little bit… that a young person, to be considered successful, hadto go to a four-year university and get saddled with student loan debt and… …follow their bliss… or something like that.

Follow Their Bliss

You don’t have to call me old-fashioned… I know I’m old-fashioned, heck I put the “old” in old-fashioned, but as schools get out for summer, and I seem to see fewer and fewer kids outside playing… and even fewer occasionally working… I worry.

Don’t misunderstand… I’m not some Montana-cabin-dwelling, abacus-clutching, manifesto-composing, anti-technology-altruist… heck, even I have an iPhone… I just need my grandkids to help me use it.

Don't Misunderstand

But I do believe moderation is good in everything for everyone… and hard work… even at ten or twelve or 28… is not only good for a person… it’s good for the whole community… as are trade schools, community colleges, shop classes, FFA, and things that don’t necessarily lead to successful college applications but do necessarily lead to successful lives and successful communities.

Aww, heck… how did I get off on that tangent there… life’s just a tapestry of tangents, isn’t it? 

I think so… and I think my definition of success started shaping itself right around this time… all those years ago…

At the start of another childhood summer… when life was good… work wasn’t so bad… and anything was possible.

This summer, I hope that’s true for you, too.

Thanks for listening,

Francis Pass