Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 26, 2010

Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Bing Crosby . . . Bob Hope!  That’s good company to be in.  But I do have something in common with them.  Singing?  Certainly not!  Dancing?  Come on, now, you know better!  Acting?  Well, I do act up sometimes, but not an actor like those two!

So, what do we have in common?  We all sold spot remover! 

Only a few readers would remember the movie released in 1940, Road to Singapore. In that movie, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were buddies.  Crosby played the part of a rich kid who refused to take over the family business, and with a sailor, played by Hope, he struck out on adventure.  In need of money, they devised a get-rich-quick scheme selling spot remover.  They were two con men who attempted to sell spot remover that was not reliable.  In fact, it was so bad that it dissolved clothes!

My spot remover would not do that!  I actually sold the product door to door.  It was a true spot remover.  Bing Crosby and Bob Hope only knew about selling the product in the movie.  I had a legitimate business!

I was in the fourth grade.  I needed money in addition to the small allowance I received for doing my chores.  In the summertime, I sold turnip greens that I raised, had a coke stand, and did other odd jobs until I was old enough to clean fireplaces, lay a fire, and fill the coal bins for neighbors in  the winter.

But for that year in the winter, salesmanship was my bag!  I got the great idea one afternoon as I read a Superman comic book.  There it was!  The back inside cover had an ad.  “Earn money.  Sell a dozen cans of spot remover.  Instant profit.”  Or at least it was something like that.  At least it got my attention.  I immediately started thinking of people who would buy from me.  I saw it as a winner!

The big problem was up-front cost!  You had to send the company, best I remember, $3.00 and they would send you the twelve cans of spot remover.  They suggested that you sell them for thirty cents each, making a profit of a nickel on each one sold.  That might not sound like much, but for a boy getting only a quarter a week it was more than twice my allowance.

Of course, in my head I was believing I would sell a dozen a week.  That would be a big profit and I would be the wealthiest kid in the neighborhood.  My biggest dilemma was the up-front cost.  I hadn’t saved anything from my allowance.  I didn’t want a business partner . . . I couldn’t steal the money from the bank . . . and I was too proud to ask a grandparent.  Who was left to advance me the money?  My parents!  And to my surprise . . . they gave me the loan against my allowance for the next twelve weeks!  Imagine that length of period if my business failed!  But I knew it would not and that I would repay the loan within a week.

With the help of my parents, the order went off.  Within a few days the spot remover arrived.  There were twelve small cans.  The spot remover looked like yellow soap.  It even had a soapy smell.  Perhaps I should have made a mixture of water, Octagon soap and Ivory soap, and put it in cans.  It probably would have done the same job.

Immediately when I received the spot remover, I began to work the neighborhood.  I still don’t know why it didn’t sell like “hot cakes” as they say.  It was harder work than I had imagined.  I probably had some sales pitch like, “You can use your scissors to remove that spot . . . but why not try my magic remover first?”  Sounds logical to me!

I faintly recall that I sold most of the cans.  I think I sold enough to break even.  I also knew I could probably come up with a better way to earn extra money.  Amazing how we can be so convinced in our minds that something can work.  I have a history of assuming my plan is on target.   But then I live out that quote from Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

In that vein, I need to constantly remind myself that it is not my plans, but God’s that I should consider.  His way is perfect . . . His plans do not fail.  He will provide all the resources I need to follow and complete His plan! 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)



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