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Jim's story - Page 10


Written by James Needham Groom (b.1911-)

There were several ways a kid could make some money and I tried most of them. Many of the students of the Seminary had milk cows , which they staked out on the vacant lots to graze in the summer, thus solving the problem of milk for their families. Some of them had opportunities in the summer to hold two week meetings out in the country churches out from Fort Worth. While they were gone, they needed someone to milk their cow, feed and water her, and stake her out on pasture. For this service, I charged 25 cents per day, plus the milk. For looking after a flock of hens, I only charged the eggs I gathered. Selling papers downtown was another enterprise where a boy could make a few cents. The Press cost one cent at the printing plant and you retailed it for two cents. There were a couple of drawbacks, however. First, you had to lay down the one cent out of your pocket, hoping to sell all of them. Any you failed to sell was on you - no rebate. If you bought 25 papers and sold only 20, your profit was only 15 cents. Another drawback was older boys would claim a corner and demand that you give him any sale you made on his turf. You had to comply or fight him, and while you were fighting, you were liable to lose your papers and lose valuable time, because an edition was only new for a short time, and you could also lose the fight. Taking it all around, it was not a very good business.

Caddying at the Municipal Golf Course was another way to make a little money. The "Muni" as it was called, was the poorest and less expensive of the golf courses in the Fort Worth area and there was no membership requirement to play. The Colonial Golf Course was a private club and very exclusive. The Muni caddies were all white, and all the caddies at all the other clubs were black. White kids normally caddied until they were 16 to 18 years old, while the blacks made a lifetime career out of it and became real experts. Since the white kids were less skilled, the competition was lax enough that I could get some work. The rules for caddies were enforced by a caddy master, who would fine a caddy 25 cents for breaking arule. Any number of boyd could work by just showing up. The first rule was that when a player came out to choose a caddy, all caddies formed a straight line facing the caddy master, who stood near the middle of the line. If a caddy moved his eyes or turned his head as the player moved along the line, it was a 25 cent fine. If you were chosen, you were not permitted to say the first word to the player, only speak when spoken to. Seminary Hill was nearly due south of downtown, and the Mini was southwest about the same distance, with the population living along the street car lines to Seminary Hill and the T.C.U. line near the Muni course. To ride a street car meant taking an hour ride downtown, transferring to a T.C.U. car at seventh and Houson, thence another hour to T.C.U. By walking the five miles between the two lines, more or less across open country, I could save 45 minutes, plus the car fare. If I reached the golf course between dawn and sunup in the summertime, I had a good chance of making 18 holes before 10:00 AM, for which I was paid between 70 cents and $1.00. No one played during the hottest part of the day during which time we caddies loafed, rested and had a few fistfights. With luck, I could make another 18 holes after 4:00 PM, finishing up by dusk. After 36 holes caddying and walking five miles, I sometimes had $1.40 to $2.00 cash. I would spend the 7 cent car fare and ride the street car via Seventh and Houston to the Hemphill car back to Seminary Hill. My father would have whatever we had for supper warm for me, and it was the proudest moment of my life when I could walk in, with the family gathered around, and lay my money down on the kitchen table for the family.

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