The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed Mark Allison at his home in Stroudsburg, PA. He was telling me stories of what it was like to be a kid growing up in the city, as I grew up in the country therefore I was not used to that environment. Kids during the summer in the sixties passed the time much differently than they do now. Mark tells me the story of when he made his first buck at the age of eight during a hot summer day. That day took an unexpected turn though.

“Mark, come on! We gotta get to the houses before any of the other kids do!” Larry yelled from the sidewalk, his arms folded in exasperation.

“I’m coming. I gotta find my wagon.” yelled back Mark frantically. “Found it! I’m coming!” Mark then pulled the wagon out from behind the family’s new 1965 Ford pickup truck.

“Finally, it took you long enough” snarled Larry.

Mark rolled his eyes as the kids towed their wagons, ready to take on the day. First stop was always the Wilson’s.

“Good Morning Mrs. Wilson! We’re here to collect your pop bottles!” said Mark to Mrs. Wilson who sat in her usual chair reading the newspaper while sipping her lemonade. She waved and smiled back as the kids dumped the bin of pop bottles into their wagons, making sure the number of bottles was split evenly.

“It’s going to be a scorcher today boys. Be careful now you hear me?” warned Mrs. Wilson.

“Yes Ma’am” said the boys in unison.

Larry and Mark then trekked to the next house.

“Look at this bin!” yelled Larry.

The two peered into the bin to find the whole thing filled with thirty-two ounce bottles

“We’re gonna be rich!” squealed Mark. After Mark said that, he saw stars in his eyes. He felt a little light headed, but did not suspect anything.

Each house on the block was about five feet apart which was great for the boys because they collected quite a few bottles. They weren’t even halfway down the block when their wagons were full. Mark had an especially hard time pulling the heavy wagon. To him, it felt like he was pulling an elephant.

“Jesus, I think we gotta go down to Dick’s now and drop off this load.” said Mark as he wiped the sweat from his dirty blonde hair, still feeling dizzy.

“You Ok?” asked Larry.

“Yeah I’m good” responded Mark.

The duo walked to the end of the block where Dick’s Drugstore resided. They opened the door with a loud clank causing the people in the store to give them disapproving glances.

“Got some pop bottles for me boys?” asked Mr. Dick, the store owner as he examined their wagons. The boys parked the wagons right in front of Mr. Dick as they anxiously waited for their money, Mark still felt dizzy.

“Hm you boys got quite a few thirty-two ounce bottles here don’t ya? I guess that’s what happens in summer.” Said Mr. Dick as he chuckled to himself. Mr. Dick pulled the wagons behind the counter and dumped them into the pop bin. The boys waited for what felt like an eternity until Mr. Dick came back with four dollars.

“Two bucks for each of you” said Mr. Dick with his usual wide grin.

Their eyes widened in disbelief as they’ve never seen that much money right in front of them. Before Mark could grab the money, he saw the whole world go black as he fell to the floor.  

The Price for Striking Rich

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Summer 1966
Altoona, PA

I interviewed Mark Allison at his home in Stroudsburg, PA. He was telling me stories of what it was like to be a kid growing up in the city, as I grew up in the country therefore I was not used to that environment. Kids during the summer in the sixties passed the time much differently than they do now. Mark tells me the story of when he made his first buck at the age of eight during a hot summer day. That day took an unexpected turn though.

Decade: 1960s
Rating:
Recorded by Hayley Allison on December 6, 2017
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