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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • ALBERTA ANDERS: The value of a hard day’s work

  • Everyone I know laughed at me when I said, “Just endure, just enjoy because September will bring an early autumn” and just look! Isn’t it wonderful? Summer has passed now and my favorite season is here. Summer was hot and brought wishes for cooler weather.
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  • Everyone I know laughed at me when I said, “Just endure, just enjoy because September will bring an early autumn” and just look! Isn’t it wonderful? Summer has passed now and my favorite season is here. Summer was hot and brought wishes for cooler weather.
    To some, summer is a salty sea with sand and volleyball and sunsets. For me, it is the fragrance of the green tomato plants, aroma of strawberries warmed by the sun, dill permeating the patio and the light fresh scent of cucumbers in preparation of a salad.
    Aren’t we all products of our heritage and our environment? In the 1930s, my early years spent west of Anderson, beans needed to be picked in the summer, a cash crop for our family. I was probably 5 years old when mother made me my own picking sack, dragging it along the rows and proudly doing my part. Tomatoes were prepared for canning, sweet milky corn picked as it tasseled. Consequently corn on the cob will always take me back to Stodgin Holler, just east of the Buffalo, the coldest of cold swimming holes (coming from underground springs) down by the (for years it was called) broken down bridge. July evenings were a celebration of summer as we gathered down by the bridge and built a campfire, fried fish and relaxed. It was certainly not every summer evening that we could afford this luxury.
    For this reason those evenings are remembered with relish. The relaxation had to be earned. To do so every evening would have made it commonplace. So many of our youth are cheated today because they have never experienced a long day of hard work in the summer heat. Few young men today buck hay and hoe gardens, not many young ladies are canning for the winter. When my great-nephews were recently enjoined to help weed a flowerbed their rejoinder was, “Can’t you hire someone to do that sort of thing?” To do so would have denied them the pleasure they ultimately found in a job well done.
    Summers in California in the 1940s and 1950s, my brothers and sister and I crawled along the orchard floors and picked sugar plums, Santa Rosa sweet fragrant plums that were purchased at the grocery as delicious plums or prunes. Our thoughts were to earn spending money, school clothes money, movie money. The dollars earned were precious but we were well aware of what it took to earn it. A mixture of orchard dirt and sugary juices coated our hands, knees complained and in spite of the clean, outdoor, healthy air, we decided an education was a good thing if it would keep us from spending our lives picking prunes.
    Aunt Zelma Armstrong, in her 70s, who visited us recently told stories of attending the Anderson movies after spending the day picking berries when she was a girl. She wore gloves to hide her discolored hands and was told by her friend, who she was treating to the movies, “I would NEVER let my hands get in that shape, or pick berries.” Aunt Zelma’s nature, is a sweet one and she told me proudly that although she still treated for the movies, she decided then not to treat for a soda after the movie! Her father had taught her the meaning of hard work and the value of her earnings.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ever sink into a hot bathtub after a hard day’s work in the fields?  That good, indescribable feeling of a hard job completed, followed through and the reward at the end of the day — money can’t really buy it.
    Sunday’s Joplin Globe some time back identified annual salaries of Roseanne Barr at $19 million, as Mary Kay Ash as $500,000+ and Jim Carrey as $29 million. Our poor president at the time was grossing only a mere $200,000 and a teacher listed grosses $32,000! This is surely sending confuted messages to our youth. I doubt if Roseanne or Jim Carey enjoy their millions more than we did our $5 for picking prunes or Aunt Zelma her berry money.
     It is important, I believe, that our young people experience this emotion, the contented feeling, the satisfaction of a job well done. Whether it be a well-weeded flower bed or a straight fence row, whatever the accomplishment, are we denying them this exquisite pleasure? They need to know the reward of a job well done, it can be a simple reward if they also have the personal knowledge that they have earned it. Their summer can be a memorable one if they have learned this lesson. 
    Top it off with an evening around a campfire or a dip in the Buffalo River. The fragrance of this summer could be a sweet memory indeed as we look forward to a glorious and brilliant autumn in the Ozarks.
    Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.
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