Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 30, 1972 · Page 83
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 83

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 30, 1972
Page 83
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The All-Purpose Urchins Ice Ball Company By Robert DiBarloloinco The chronic need for additional funds and past failures recently gave rise to my daughter Lizzy's most successful foray into the business world, "The All Purpose Urchins Ice Ball Company." The immediate catalyst was her "desperate" desire for a bicycle in- nertube. With her allowance spent foolishly or perhaps for some hormones to speed her "Great Guinea Pig Breeding Scheme," requests for additional monies fell on deaf ears. Her mother, reaching the breaking point, finally said, "Lizzy, if you want more money earn it," Therefore, the Ice .Ball Company was formed, and my daughter learned about capitalism. Think back to your c h i l d h o o d . An ice ball is shaved ice flavored with syrup in a conical paper cup, sickeningly sweet, but a delight to young palates. To create one, you need an ice ball maker and would . you believe that we happened to have one in our basement purchased at an auction years ago. This "Yankee No. 7" is a small tool, made of metal with a handle joined to a lidded, spherical cup. On the bottom of . the cup is a toothed blade. Stroked vigorously over the top of a block of ice, the shavings are forced up into the cup and when it is filled you have the ice for an ice ball. In the ice ball company's early history, the "Yankee No. 7" was its most important asset. Several problems had to be overcome before production began. The first was a flavoring syrup. Together, my wife and daughter worked that one out--a simple syrup was concocted and a package of Kool Aid thrown in for color and taste. · Initially lack of capital restricted, the Company to one flavor--cherry. Transportation was another pitfall. This gap was bridged by commandeering my wheelbarrow. Funding came next: ingredients could be borrowed from the family larder, but ice had to be purchased. Repayment pledges sworn with all the fervor of a medieval vow gained the firm the vital materials and the funds to buy that first block of ice. All that was needed was some one to push the barrow and clean the "Yankee · No. 7" of rust, so that customers wouldn't be poisoned and sue. In a stroke'of genius, Lizzy looked around her and chose the only cheap labor available, her brother, Tony. Little did she know what trouble this would eventually cause her. Promises of money and an equal partnership brought him into the firm, provided he took on the tasks listed above. When all preparations were completed, my children set off, Tony pushing the wheelbarrow, and Lizzy ringing a cow bell and screaming "Ice Balls, ten cents each." Such noise brought out a crowd. Our neightborhood is a loop with only one entrance, and around it live about eighty families with more than 200 children so there was indeed a large market. Initially, my fledglings' product was met with scorn--so they gave one away.' Another w a s sold a t h a l f p r i c e . I n s t a n t success-the gross from that first trip was more than $6.00. Halfway around the loop, the president and her partner had an argument. The partner decided that the president ought to push for a while, so that he could yell and make a few ice balls himself. The president adamantly declared that the original contract called only for his pushing, so the partner left .the firm, and came home to tell his mother, who to him is something like the National Labor Relations Board Fortunately, a hefty lad named Clint, one of Lizzy's friends, took over the barrow and the trip was completed. Together the two of them looked like Little Orphan Annie and her large protector, Punjab. I returned home from a hard day at the museum and was informed that all debts were paid, the inner tube purchased, and the original partnership dissolved. New supplies had been laid in and a second trip, was planned for the evening. I suggested N 4m CHARLESTON, W.VA. that Clint be taken in as a partner to push the wheel barrow. Growing up in Steuben- yille, Ohio, I learned that, to protect an investment, it was often good business to hire the largest kid you could find so he'd be on your side. With Clint as a partner Lizzie would have no problems with ice ball hijackers, thieves, or vandals. He agreed to come in for one-fourth of the gross. Lizzy decided on her own that more advertising was neeeded, so. she re-hired her brother, and added another employee, Clint's brother, Clay. Tony and Clay were to ring bells and yell as well as wear hand lettered cardboard signs. These two criers, however, received only $.25 per trip and one free ice ball. The second trip was almost as successful as the first, and diversification was planned for the next day. Flavors were increased from one to four. Small pots bubbled merrily on our stove for the rest of that evening. Cherry would remain the most popular, but lemon-lime and orange would hold their own. Grape was a poor fourth until huge portions of it were given-out to get rid of it, then it, too, climbed in appeal. Toward the end of the second trip, tag ends of the four were left, so the kids began to add a little of each to the ice. This new flavor was called Rainbow and such an ice ball cost fifteen, not ten cents. Syrup dispensers were mustard jars with plunge squirters and small salad bottles with plastic lids and a spout. To forestall competition the children refused to answer questions about the syrup and said that its contents were a secret, old Italian recipe. This was a n o t h e r of my Machiavellian c o n t r i b u t i o n s to the Company. The kids soon discovered that some families wanted to buy shaved ice for Daiquiris and that the tipplers were willing to pay a premium price. Small bowls of Diaquiri ice therefore cost a quarter. With all of this success, a second ice ball maker had to be found, and when my secretary at the museum told them that she had one, the president of the firm was overjoyed. Dollar signs probably danced before Lizzy's eyes. Two ice bail makers, twice as many iceballs, twice as much money. Out of self protection, my wife kept the company books so our kitchen supplies could be replaced. Using an accounting technique which only she can understand, cost figures were worked out. One penny for the cup and two cents for everything else' except the partner's cut. leaving Lizzy almost five cents profit per item. At first the cildren got their plastic spoons for nothing, coming to the museum and asking my good-hearted secretary for any the museum had. About 200 were acquired this way before I put a stop to it. Once that supply was closed to them, they decided that straws were just as good. At the local supermarket, straws only cost $.19 a hundred. Spoons were much more. More corporate stresses and strains awaited my daughter and her band of urchins. If you have a daughter, you know that she has "best friends"-at least six of them. The "best friend" she's known all her life. Her "best friend" of four years ago, and her "best friend", from yesterday. All of these "best .friends" wanted a piece of the action, not necessarily for money, but simply for participation. They began to act as change makers, bell ringers, and even criers. My son's cow bell and cardboard sign were taken away from him, and given to a "best friend." Not one to suffer such an indignity in silence he told his sister what she could do with her ice balls and her best friends and her quarter, again left the firm, and came home to complain, vowing to have nothing more to do with the venture. When my daughter, finished that evening, Dockets heavy with change, I lectured her on loyalty to her employees, and also on the fact that if ice balls were given away free to participating best friends, it cut down on profits, I don't know which argument did the trick, but after severe complaints about someone always ruining her relationship with her only "best friends,' 1 she made the necessary phone calls. With sadness in her voice she told the girls that they could walk along, but they couldn't make'change or ring bells, because she had to be true to her old employees. Attempts to -defray costs by filling plastic buckets with water and making ice in our freezer were doomed to failure. The centers wouldn't freeze. I complained bitterly about losing my wheel barrow on grass cutting nights, but it was taken anyway. Ice melts and what better way to sop up water and keep the ice from sliding than to line the bottom of the barrow with towels. Within a few days every towel in the house was wet, mildewed, and unusable. I howled the first time I tried to dry my face and was informed that the Company had used two dozen that day. My wife solved the problem by showing Lizzy how to operate the washer and dryer. An attempt to set up the wheelbarrow in a busy parking lot in Oglebay Park near our home was vetoed by me and that potential source of profit'was closed--to the kid's disgust. I didn't think the park management would appreciate the competition. After a selling trip the firm would sit around counting their profits and treating themselves to one of their own creations. That is, everyone but the president of the company. "Lizzy why aren't you eating one? 'Daddy, I don't like them; they're too sweet." To my great surprise, after a week of labor, a tidy sum was banked in Lizzy's savings account. But the arduous tasks of business began to take their toll. The second ice ball maker broke, and the "Yankee No. 7" again became the firm's principal asset. My son, noticing his sister's affluence, became extremely anxious to work for pay around the house, and threatened to leave the firm for a third time. Oglebay Park's day camps opened, which all of the Company's personnel attended, and the trips had to be cut down to one a day. On the next weekend, Clint and Clay went to a stock car race so' there was no profit on Friday. Lizzy declared the rest of the weekend a vacation. For the next seven days, Hurricane Agnes' rains kept the company indoors, and gave rise to talk about withdrawing some saved money and buying a new mate for "Myron/' Statements about unfairness to "Popppy" earned me the retort that a guinea pig was not monogamous and could have several ladies in his harem with no problems arising. ' Lucky Myron!. ; A half-cake of ice is in my freezer. The Yankee No. 7" lies forlorn and lonely In a drawer. Several bottles of different colored syrup are-lined up on a kitchen counter--all waiting for a return to the commercial wars which 'are frequently talked a b o u t and promised for tomorrow." Women are strange creatures at 12 or 40. When your first born is a girl, you have much to learn, and the years go by too rapidly and children have a way of growing up too quickly. Sunday Gazette-Mail

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