Sunday, July 17, 2005

My First Purchase

Here's one of my earliest memories -- when I was about four years old. I found a penny in a couch, and asked my oldest sisters, who were teenagers at the time, who I should give it to. They explained that there was no way of knowing who lost it, so now it belonged to me, because I had found it. Mom agreed. I was partly delighted, and partly puzzled. One sister said I could save it until I had enough to buy something I wanted. The other said it would be a long time before that could happen, because I got no allowance when I was four. Mom said I could buy a cookie with the penny. There was a store down town that sold sugar cookies for one cent each.

I could walk down the street to the store and buy the cookie all by myself, it was proposed. But I had never walked down the street by myself before -- I could get lost. But it was easy, they assured me. And next year, I would be going to school, Mom said, and this was on the way to school, so I would learn part of the route. All I had to do was go down the hill, then uphill a little, across the railroad tracks, then to a street with stores. The store with the cookies was the first one on the right, and the cookies were in a glass case near the front of the store.

They rehearsed the directions with me until I was convinced that I could do it. So, clutching my penny in my fist, I left on this new venture. It helped that the street was straight, because half-way down the hill, I could look ahead and see the railroad tracks, and could look back and see the street in front of our house. When I reached the street with the stores, I turned right and entered the first store. There, behind glass, I saw stacks of BIG sugar-coated cookies. A kind-looking lady leaned over and looked down at me and asked what I wanted. One of those cookies, I said, pointing, and holding up my penny.

Soon I had one of those big cookies in my hands. I had to admire it a bit before I ate it. And I was proud that I had walked to the store and bought it all by myself. Then it occurred to me that if I ate it before returning home, there would be no evidence that I had completed my quest successfully. So I held it very carefully and carried it home and showed it to everybody before I ate it.

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