Bob’s First Business Ventures

The two-horse farm was too much work for my father to attend to alone, so soon after my parents purchased the farm, they built a “tenant house” on the farm which was located about one-quarter mile north of our house.  It was built along the muddy, pot-filled access lane mentioned earlier, and provided our families access to the farm.  This house was built from lumber that my father cut from our woods land on the farm, had it hauled to a local saw mill where it was milled into lumber suitable for building the house.  He and other family members built a two-bedroom, kitchen, living room, fireplace and single-porch house for the tenant families to live in and assist my father with the farming.

One of the first families to live in the house was the Lee Knight family.  They had three children, two boys and a girl who were approximately the ages of my sisters and I.  This was great for us kids because their children became close playmates for us as long as they lived on the farm near us.  Their mother worked on the farm also and assisted our mother in some of her farm work that was typically done by the women.  In those days, the women worked on the farms along with the men.

It was on this farm that I got my first sense of responsibility because my Uncle Ray Canady, my father’s brother, gave me a goat to raise.  I had never had any experience with goats and neither had any of my family.  I don’t recall whether the goat was male or female, but being on a farm and having experienced early on how animals breed and have offspring, I knew I had to get a mate for the goat.  I had important plans for these goats.  I bought another goat and soon afterwards I had a more goats.  In fact, I had a small herd!

As my goat herd increased, I found that there was a nearby and unusual market for my grown goats.  I sold goats to the local townspeople for “goat roasts” which they often did at election time in support of local politicians.  As a result of selling some of my goats, I earned enough money to buy my very first bicycle.  It was a used Schwinn bike, and I paid for it from the proceeds of my first business.

I had one “Billy Goat” that was very mean and would chase children if they came near him or into the field where he was.  This was a problem for my two younger sisters.  They were unable to go into the fields where the goats grazed.  I had full range of the fields, and in fact, worked in the fields along with my parents.  The Billy Goat continued to be a threat to my sisters and in fact, attacked my younger sister one day.  This resulted in my having to “close out” my goat business.

After the initial entrepreneurial experience with my goat business, I decided I wanted to enter another business activity—selling Rosebud Salve.  I signed up to sell Rosebud Salve, and with left over money from my goat sales I bought the first shipment of salve through some “through-the-mail” organization.  I was successful enough with that venture that I was able to purchase a subscription to a monthly magazine that reported on events and happenings, with ample photos, in the Belgian Congo.  This magazine was so important to me for in it there were stories and photos of events happening in the “far-away place” of the Belgian Congo.  I looked forward each month to getting that magazine and travelling, in my mind, to this faraway place even though I had not gotten far enough in school to know exactly where the Belgian Congo was located.  I was in only about the third or fourth grade at the time and was nine or ten years old, but this stimulated my interest in far-away places

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