I have been thinking about it today, and I probably grew up in one of the most interesting neighbourhoods that any kid could have wished to be born into! There were so many characters, and because I loved talking to them and visiting them, I got to know them very well. Probably more visiting on my part than they wanted, but what the heck - I was a kid--there were things I needed to do and see!
My neighbours who lived at the top of the block, directly next to our house block, were brother and sister. Both of them seemed quite old, well, at least to me anyway at the time. They weren't very sociable, and mainly kept to themselves. If the truth be known the neighbourhood talked about them as being misers - I had to look that word up in the dictionary at the time, and didn't think that that was a fair description. Sure they were loners, and Anna especially was kind of scary, but I eventually just invaded their lives, and they eventually got used to me.
They owned a lot of property in town, and apparently were fairly wealthy, but to look at how they lived, I would never have guessed that. Anna grew beautiful flowers in an area of their garden and Bill grew the largest raspberries and blackberries that I had ever tasted. (I knew that I wasn't supposed to raid his berry patches, but I figured that any berries that escaped through the fence and into our yard were fair game - and I would lay on the lawn and eat them and love them!)
Eventually Bill started meeting me in the alley-way which I would walk down every day, past his house, to get to my house for lunch during the school week. I was probably about 7 or 8, and Bill would time it so that he occasionally gave me a punnet of fresh berries to have with my lunch. I loved him for that! I would skip into our kitchen and would tell Mum I had more raspberries, and she would say:
" Janice, stop harassing that poor man. Stop taking his berries - it's not nice!" I just looked at her in awe, as if she were from another planet--of course I was meant to take Bill's berries - they were a present!
I was a very capitalistic child, and was forever trying to make money. I sold lemonade at my lemonade stands, made hot pads on my little loom and sold them around the neighbourhood from door to door, but one day I thought I had come up with a brilliant plan! I had recently been able to invite myself into Bill and Anna's house, and occasionally sat in their kitchen and had a cold drink with them. I was about 8 years old. One day while sitting and talking with Bill, with Anna hovering in the background, I noticed that their kitchen was fairly dark, and seemed dusty and murky, even to a kid. I decided to look around, something I don't think they expected, and walked into their living room. It was even darker, and all the windows had long blinds drawn down low. Without even asking, I just walked over and pulled on a blind and watched it roll up to the top of its coil, throwing years of dust everywhere. Suddenly a ray of sunlight lit up the room, and I stood and just looked around the room. The room had older style furniture in it, lots of dark wood and brocaded material, but with a bit of cleaning, I figured they could really like it! Bill grabbed me before Anna could, and suggested that it was probably time for me to leave, and Anna was quickly closing the blind again. I figured the light must have hurt her eyes - but then couldn't understand how she could plant such beautiful flowers and not want that sunlight which smiled down on her flowers to also shine into this room!
So a couple of days later, I knocked on their back door, which led into their kitchen, and Bill answered the door. He was a bit surprised to see me, and I just took that as a good sign. I excitedly turned to Bill, and blurted out:
"Bill! I have a plan! I want to make some money, so I have decided to sell my body to you!"
The look on his face was one of shock and then a lot of confusion. Anna was muttering something in the background, but I just kept explaining:
"If I sell you my body, I can come in and clean your kitchen and open your windows and let the sun in and you will be very much happier - you just have to pay me for my body to do this work!"
Bill replied, somewhat worried, "Have you been to anyone else's house and said this?"
"Nope, just came here first! Figured you guys needed my body the most!"
Bill just stood and looked at me, was speechless for a short time, then reached in his pants pocket and took out a dollar bill. He gave it to me and said:
"Janice. What I am going to say to you is very important. You cannot go from door to door to sell any part of you. You are very young, and probably don't understand, but you must promise me not to do that again. Take this dollar, and remember what I am saying to you. There are better ways to make money. One day when you are older you will work it all out. Now - just go play!"
Bill then closed the door, and I stood looking at the dollar, and wondered why he gave it to me. But I figured that perhaps he was renting me, and would ask me to do the cleaning later when I was older. I just went home and put the dollar in my piggy bank, and layed on my bed, trying to think of another way to make money. I don't think I ever told my family about this adventure until many years later. It just didn't seem important at the time - I just had to grow up more, before I could earn that dollar I figured........