Do you remember a time when children used their creative genius to come up with ways to entertain themselves? A time before computers, high speed Internet, cellular phones, IPods, IPads, netbooks, Xbox and any other electronic device or game you might think of?
As an elementary school educator I often wonder if all the technology is actually harming the creativity and “thinking” processes in our children. I shared this and it sparked an ongoing conversation this afternoon. Our laughter, grief, and reminiscing triggered one of my very own childhood memories.
I was blessed to grow up surrounded by family. Within walking distance were aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Directly next door was my Gram (Mary Hogan Searles) and Aunt Nancy’s (Searles), well before County Route 1 was relocated to run through the pasture and yards I traveled back and forth. As kids, we spent a lot of time on foot to visit and play at our cousins.
One summer my aunt invited us clean out the milk house and transform it into a “bookstore” and “library”. This was a job we all took seriously. Once the milk-house was cleaned out, Gram “donated” her old books to be used as our first inventory. As the family learned of our break into the world of entrepreneurship, more books were donated.
The shelves were cleaned, books sorted by genre, prices determined, and marketing strategies developed. Never underestimate the power of a few driven cousins inspired by the family matriarchs to not only establish our first business, but to impress Gram. In addition to books, we scavenged the barn for decorative items to dress up our shop. Aunt Nancy gave us an old file cabinet to organize our business materials and store our supplies when the store was closed.
We each had a shift, assignment, and desire to be successful. Most of the time it was my cousins Missy and Shawnacy, my sister Heidi, and me. The boys (Tom, Tim, & Terry) would travel through the store on their way to do chores in the barn, but never bought a single book. This irked us. Not only didn’t they purchase a book, they tracked barn yuck from one door to the next and we had to resweep. Our work was never done.
This was a great summer and we were thrilled to have the opportunity. Now, decades later as I reflect on the fun prior to electronic overload…I’m not sure if I should laugh or stand in awe. My Gram and Aunt not only got us girls to clean up the milk-house, we spent our summer learning.
What did we learn as co-owners of the “Searles Bookstore”?
· How to clean
· Problem Solving
· Team work and Team Building
· Organizational Skills
· To read for enjoymen
· Basic Math & even some statistics
· Daily writing
· Marketing plans
· Advertisement layouts
· Failure is still a lesson learned
· Desire to be successful in our adult years
Of course you may have guessed our book store didn’t grow into a chain of milk-house bookstores yet it provided hours of laughter, disagreements solved, and hope for a future.
And now I realize how cunning my elders were. Not only did they get us to clean the milk-house, they kept us out of their hair all summer doing academics! How did that happen? Go figure. I pray to bless my daughter and the children in my life with the same desire and joy to learn before they realize they’ve been hoodwinked. I have some great mentors, thank you Jesus!
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323