Excerpts from the Geode Kid Free Club
I left for Blythe to schedule the dozer and pick through the city dump. But, the first thing I needed was an oxygen-acetylene welders torch. While I had enough money to buy one, I would rather buy a used one. As fate would have it, I fingered through the classified adds of the Palo Verde Times, the local Blythe newspaper.
I found a sale for the works, an oxygen bottle, an acetylene bottle, a torch with three tips plus a cutting tip. It was the standard size most welders in a garage or metal shop use. The price was $250.00 for the works and
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billed as being in excellent condition. I was so thrilled I went directly to the old garage that was selling it. Nobody was there, so I left a note that I would come by at about 4:00 PM. Then, I headed for the city dump. I was looking for parts that came close to the shapes I planned. I found the top of a washing machine. I unscrewed the top off and I had a strong base that would hold the whole machine. Wade Kinny had a lot of used 1/4 horse swamp cooler motors that he had scrapped out for his second hand store in Ripley, about half way between Palo Verde and Blythe. The motors ran at 1750 RPM and I had to reduce the speed way down so it wouldn’t tear the machine apart. Then I saw the perfect
speed reduction pulley, a bicycle wheel. It would reduce the speed about1.5 revolution per second. I found a rod of steel about ½ inches in diameter. This would be bent in the center leaving an eccentric crank shaft that would lift a toilet seat lid open then close on the toilet seat about 1.5 per second. Under the seat, was a large glossy photo of President Johnson framed by the seat. But, I needed a torch to cut metal rods and old metal electric conduit tubing into lengths that would fit the moving components.
I went back to the old garage and the gentleman was there. “Howdy, what can I do for you?” “Well sir, I saw an add in the newspaper that you had a complete gas welding set, I think you wanted to sell it for two hundred fifty bucks,” “Well, I sure do. I’m retiring from the garage business ‘cause I’m just getting too old. I want to go fishing and enjoy what life I got left . . .” Before he could say more I took the $250.00 out of my pocket. His eyes lit up as though he was relieved about the usual bartering of his price down. “Its yours if you can guarantee that it is in good condition,” “This outfit is nearly new. I used it mainly for replacing exhaust pipes and mufflers then found that it was too hard for me to lift all that weight. Tell you what young man. If you have any trouble with it, bring it back and I’ll make it right,” he was shocked when I thrust the
money at his hand, “Deal!” I said. I looked it over and it looked like it had never been used.
I went back to the city dump to search for items that would make up the moving parts. I found a peddle sprocket of a bicycle and an old round electric room heater. It had the heat coils around a cone-shaped porcelain insulator within what looked like a small TV satellite dish. If I welded it to a pipe and welded the bottom of the pipe to the bicycle sprocket, it would turn around like a radar dish. I welded a drive wheel made from a kids wagon wheel with the rubber burned off. I mounted it next to the sprocket that would turn the radar-like heater which came up behind other components into view. Now, I needed to weld “gear teeth” to the side of the drive wheel. I could have made it turn evenly, but I liked the idea of welding the gear teeth with three empty spaces so the radar would turn like it was getting stuck three times when no teeth passed by. It gave it a jumpy circulation as though it was about to fail. It never did, but it was fun to watch people thinking that it would at every hesitant instant only to resume the stop and go jerking and clattering noise it made.
Then I got a few rusty food cans. I got an idea about how funny three cans hanging half way down the center of the machine would act when tied to Slinky Springs. The cans would bounce up and down adding to the clatter of the other components. Then, I saw a small fan. I could weld that to the main drive that
operated the seat cover which would add another moving component. Then, I saw a wreaked car with the speedometer and cable intact. I took it off and attached the speedometer cable to the end of the motor shaft.
At the motor speed of 1750, the speedometer read 70 MPH. My machine was going 70 miles per hour without going anywhere! Oh, and yes, it needed a waving flag. I made a flag with a peace sign which I later changed to a flag showing Earth from space that the Apollo 8 moon-orbit astronauts had taken. It was mounted on an electric pipe conduit with pivot near center and the bottom shared the crank-shaft that made the toilet seat cover lift. Still later, I added a pink umbrella which opened and closed in sync with the flag and toilet seat.
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Earth First from Apollo 8 takes place of stars on flag >>>
Now, one critical thing was needed. What could I use for the two drive belts, one from the motor to the bicycle wheel and another to turn the sprocket that imparted the jerky rotation of the radar dish.
. . .
Hey, what are you going to do with all that junk, oh and it looks like you got a welder’s outfit. What are you going to do with that,” “I am going to build a
mechanical sculpture to take to Quartzsite. I think it will be a crowd pleaser.”
Then I asked him for some basic components “Wade, do you have a quarter horse motor in good condition?” “Sure, I have a dozen of them at my junk yard. I can get you one easy enough, tomorrow if you wish,” “That’s fine. Now, in order to run the wheels, I need something like a bicycle inner tube. I will have
to cut it in half lengthwise and splice about a foot or two long length from the other half so it can reach from the bicycle wheel to the motor,”
Wade was rubbing his chin as though he had no idea what I was going to do.
I explained how it was going to work and said “I don’t think you’re going to have to make a belt from an inner tube. Wait here, I have a roll of surgical tubing that might work.” He went in his storage room and got the tubing. “Its never been used, there’s about 100 feet here. Do you think that will be enough?” “Oh Wade, that would last me a lifetime. How much do you want for that and a motor?” “Not a thing, son. I cut those Secret Ridge eggs and they are better than any I have ever seen. I think that the motor and tubing is a down payment for those great eggs. If you ever need any money for dozing, I can help you out a bit there.”
. . .
I stopped by Kinny’s to see if Wade had found me a motor. “Well Kid, how’s the sculpture going?” “Oh, its ready to go. Did you call the super market to see if the three Slinky Springs had arrived?”
“I did and they said they had a couple of dozen of them. Its near Christmas time and they are stocking up with
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toys,” “Good, lets see the motor,” “Its right inside the shop, why don’t you back up and I’ll throw it in.
. . .
Lena was about to go back to her soap opera when Wade yelled at her “LENA! Get out here and see what Paul has done,” I had pulled the bicycle wheel around half a turn so Wade could see that it had a chance of working. Lena came out “But, I will miss my TV shows,” “Lena, this is important to Paul, more important than any of that TV stuff. He is going to plug it in It will only take only a few seconds to see if it works.
Come on Lena,” “Okay, if you insist,” “Well Paul is insisting silently,” “Oh Paul, I’m sorry But that thing, uh a sculpture, it moves around?” “Oh, it won’t come and bite you, it just stays where it is. I reached over and gave the bicycle wheel a push and the toilet seat announced its presence “Is this going to be vulgar?” Lena asked to which Wade said back “Nothing more vulgar than those TV shows.”
I plugged it in and counted down “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and electrification switch is on,” Lena had stepped back several feet in fear that this contraption might explode. I turned the switch on and everything worked for the first time. I only ran it for a half minute because everybody was coming out of their trailers
to see what was making all these weird noises.
Up went the toilet seat, round and hesitation and round went the radar tower, the cans mounted on the Slinky Springs were bouncing deep down into the center of it. The flag with a peace sign waved back and forth, the fan blew the cans just enough to hit each other and the speedometer showed that it was going 70 miles per hour. Wade was holding his composure, but then blew out in laughter. Lena just stared at it and asked me “What is it supposed to do?” “Its meant to draw a crowd at the Quartzsite rock and gem shows, its my P.T. Barnum.” When she saw Wade red with laughter, Lena gave in and laughed too “Oh Paul, what are you going to think of next,”
“Well, I think I will study the movements and work out any bugs so it will work dependably at the shows.” I guess I was there running it for about half an hour as people came out of their trailers to see it close up. Everybody started laughing when the toilet seat came up. That was the focal point from which the eye could wander through the other parts of movement. I think that nobody could understand how such a heap of scrap metal could run at all,”. Wade said “I’m going up to Quartzsite just to see how people react to it.
Yep, you are a P.T. Barnum no doubt about it,” “Well, the only thing I worry about is getting too big of a crowd around me. I may make the dealers in close proximity to my space awful mad,”
“But, they may benefit from those crowds too,” Wade countered “but, I think the viewers will love it.” Then Wade spotted a 11/2 inch pipe about a foot long leading down to the base of the frame. It had a cap with a slot I had cut in it with my cutting torch.
“What’s that do?” Wade asked “Oh, that’s where you put a quarter in to get a half minute or so of running it,” “You mean you have coin switch to turn it on and off?” “Indeed I do. I’ll have a kid under the table turn the switch off and on and he will get a nickel for every quarter that drops into the bucket. I will
signal him when to turn the switch on and off. I will have a blanket over my table to hide the kid, should work I think,” “Yes, I guess it will. What a trick that is Paul,” “Well, the kid is making a good profit, 20% for sitting there turning a switch off and on. Now, here is the kicker. I have a large
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glossy photograph of President Johnson and I am going to slip it in under the toilet seat. I will pull the bicycle wheel each time I shut it off so the toilet seat is down so they can’t see his picture until the switch is turned on,” “Now, why are you picking on Johnson?” Wade asked “Because he dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia then sprays the jungle with a defoliate and douses the rice fields with herbicides to starve off the enemy, and of course, there are innocent people they call ‘collateral damage’.”
. . .
Meanwhile, I want to drive up to Quartzsite to be sure I have a space. That old bag running the show didn’t like the wooden sculpture I built last year. This year, I’ll have this sculpture covered with a sheet so she can’t see what it is until the show starts,” “But, that thing is about 6 feet tall, isn’t it,” “Oh yeah, it is a few inches taller than me, but I’ll have it on the ground then put it up on my table for the unveiling, then it’ll be too late for anybody to do anything about it.”
“Say Kid, why don’t you stop at the Palo Verde Times. That thing is so funny I think they might put it in the newspaper,” “That sounds like a great idea Wade, I’ll do it. Imagine a photo of me with it. I love it!” And the Palo Verde Times did photograph it!
. . .
Charlie’s wife came out of their home next to the shop and put her hands up to her mouth then said “What in heaven’s name is that!” I shouted out, “Its recycled scrap metal, I call it Societal Accomplishment,”
“What a racket it makes,” she said as she came out cautiously toward it. When she saw the toilet seat rise, she started to laugh too. “Now, that is different. What does it do?” she asked as though it would be making some product “Oh, it just draws a crowd. I’m taking it to the show next week. It will draw a crowd and I guess I can say that what - it - does - is make money!,” “Well, I must say that you come up with novel ideas,” “Yes, just fun for money.” I asked Charlie if I could store it here for the show at QIA “Sure Kid, a lot of people gossip
about you, but I find you a fair and square boy. Now, if I could just get my saws working as good as your sculpture, I’d be a wealthy man.
. . .
I rose early the next morning and went to Blythe to shop at Safeway and fill up with gasoline. When I pulled up to the gas pumps I told the attendant to fill it up. As he was doing so, the boy filling my tank saw the contraption. “What’s that?” “Oh, that’s Societal Accomplishment,” I answered knowing that would make him more curious “Society what accomplished??” “It’s a machine, what society throws away, I put it back together and make it work,” “Work, what does it do?” “Well, if you have a moment, I have an extension cord and I’ll plug it in and you can watch it,” “You mean that it really does something?” “Indeed son, it’s a kinetic sculpture. Its an animated satire on the throw away society we lie in,” “Oh, I guess so, my boss ain’t here.
There’s a plug by the bay doors, just pull up about ten feet. Boy, I want to see this!” he now seemed excited. I took the cord holding the cans on the Slinky Springs and plugged it in. The kid didn’t know what to think for a few seconds then he started laughing when he saw the toilet flapping up and down “That’s the most gosh darned thing I ever saw!”
About the time I had turned it on, some tourist family drove up to the pumps to gas up. A lady got out and as soon s she saw it, she jumped back in and drove off as if some calamity was in progress. “Damn, did you see that old lady freak out,” “Yeah, I guess I have more uses for this than I thought of,” “Boy, I’m glad
my boss wasn’t here. I mean, it scared me at first with all that noise and everything doing this and whatever, then I saw the toilet seat and knew it was some kind of joke,” “Want me to keep it going until your boss shows up?” “OH, hell no, if my boss saw that lady drive up then run off like that, I’d be fired!” I pulled the plug and wrapped the Slinky Springs up so the cans wouldn’t fly in the wind.
About that time his boss showed up. He walked around from the side he parked as the kid was turning the bicycle wheel to make the toilet seat go up and down. He saw his boss and said “Oh s***, I hope my boss didn’t see that lady tear out of here!”
He got busy washing my windows, opened my hood to check the oil and even asked me if I wanted my tires checked. This was a good show to his boss, but I wasn’t driving a new Cadillac, I had an old Chevy pickup with psychedelic painting on it and small travel trailer. I hardly looked like anybody that would left him a tip. And, it was overdone.
But his boss walked over as the boy’s face reddened “Hey, I saw that thing
in the Palo Verde Times, was that you?” “Well sir, it was,” “Well, the article said it runs, a sculpture made of junk and it runs?” “Yes sir, it does,” “Well now, I got to see that. How do you start it,” “Just plug it in to the outlet,” I pointed to it. “So, Bobby, did you see it?” “Uh, yes sir,” the poor kid looked as though he might have just lost his job, but when I plugged it in, off it went and the boss just laughed himself silly “You should take that into a parking lot, you could make a killing,” “What?” I questioned “Yes, I have a couple of rock
hounder friends who saw that thing in Quartzsite and they said people poured quarters in it to see it run,” “Well, I have a show to do at the National Date Festival then another after that, so I’m booked up, maybe next year.”
. . .
P.T. Barnum, Larry and Me and the QIA Show, February, 1969
I put my Googlebug to sleep which cloaked our Time Machine and fixed myself a quick breakfast, Corned Beef Hash and Franco-American macaroni and cheese. I was always more interested in what I was doing than eating. This morning I wanted to give Larry a surprise. I wanted to take him over to see my
contraption I planned to use at the show. I went to his parent’s trailer. I saw that Mr. and Mrs. Culbertson was there so I parked in a position where they couldn’t see my psychedelic rear end, of the truck, that is. Larry came out and I asked “Are you finished with breakfast?” “Yeah, sure. What’s happening?” “Oh, since you like mechanical devises, I thought I would like to see a big machine I engineered,” ‘Oh, like what?” “That is something that would take some time to tell. Get in and I’ll show it to you,” “Why didn’t you show me last night?” “Oh, its too big to drag up to Saguaro Arms, so I stored it at Reese’s Trailer Park.” Larry jumped in and off we went to see it.
It was under a tarp, but as we got close, Larry could see that this machine was too asymmetrical to do something simple. However, the wind had exposed the toilet seat. “What is this, a new kind of toilet?” “You’ll see. And you will see Charlie Reese’s saw too. We parked and Charlie popped his head out of his backdoor “You gonna run that contraption?” “Sure, I want Larry here to see it. Larry, this is Charlie Reese, he makes an automatic slabbing saw, he’ll show it to you after I run my machine, it goes 70 miles per hour,” I could see a word balloon full of question marks coming out above Larry’s head “Why would anybody want to drive around 70 miles an hour on a toilet seat?” “Oh, the machine doesn’t go anywhere, it’s the speedometer that shows that.” Charlie began to laugh for he knew that nobody on this planet would build such of what I was about to unveil. Charlie bought the extension cord over and before I could unveil it, people started walking from various trailers giggling. “Well Kid, please your audience,” and I pulled the tarp off.
Larry was silent for a few seconds then just stared at it “Oh, a metal sculpture, so why do you need an extension cor.? ,” before he could finish the word, the contraption came to life. If ever there was a happier person than he’d ever been, it was now. He leaned on the tailgate and started laughing like that which I never saw Larry laugh before. After the flush was off, he saw a lot of retirees laughing too. Charlie’s trailer park renters had heard about it and it was not news to anybody about what ‘that crazy Geode Kid had done now.’
I looked at Larry, tears were running down his red face as he realized that there was a crowd laughing and that kept Larry laughing, though he was trying to hide his giggling.
He got down and kneeled before the flapping toilet seat lid and said “OH GREAT MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE, Please enlighten me!” “Oh, I think you will be delighted to partake an active roll in the operating this at the show,” “How’s that?” “Well, there is no pinball switch to start Societal Accomplishment once a quarter is put in here,” and I showed him the coin slot.
Larry finally settled down “Now, that you have retrieved your sanity, I will need someone to turn the switch on when a quarter hits the bucket,” “The bucket,” “Yes, see this pipe with a slot in the cap?” “Yeah, oh I think I get it. You cant find any pinball technology, so you want me to sit in place of a pinball coin slot,”
“Exactly,” “So, where do I go, under the table?” “Well, I think you could sit in a chair with a switch and when you hear a coin hit the bucket, turn it on for 30 seconds,” “Why, that sounds simple enough,” and Larry started
examining the motions of the various components as an engineer would for a new machine, looking for bugs.
“Well, I don’t see any bugs, except the gear you made to turn that radar thing around is missing a few teeth,” “That was done intentionally, A nice even rotating radar would be boring. And hear the noise it makes, it clanks like a broken gear,” “And, those three cans, where did you get those old springs?” “Oh, I just painted them to look rusty. Actually, they are new Slinky Springs, you know, those springs that can go down a stair
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case,” “OooOOH, I see.”
I ran it for about a minute and the crowd loved it but Mrs. Reese said “Don’t run it here at night,” “Oh, I’d never do that,” Charlie chimed in “Oh hell, the Kid’s not that dumb,” “Well, I don’t have any idea how he made that thing,” Larry spoke up as he was examining how all the parts made different movements. “Look at this, there are only two drive belts running this whole thing from one motor. What’s the drive belts made from?” “Oh, Wade had a roll of rubber surgical tubing,” “Now I see what you did, you abandoned all specs
and went for, hm, I’d say, uh, plus or minus an inch,” “Yeah Larry, I really tried plus or minus a tenth an inch,
but it runs fine,” (That’s machinist lingo for the space between two parts of a device usually read in plus or minus thousandths of an inch). The people began to thin out and I asked Larry to lift it up into the truck.
“Wait,” Larry protested, “that thing looks like it weighs a ton,” “Well, it may, but I used electrical conduit pipe for just for that reason,” and I picked it up a foot to demonstrate its lightness. Larry grabbed the other side and lifted it into the truck. We put the tarp over it with a prepared statement should Mrs. Bonner
or other snoops asked what it was. “Larry, if anybody asks what it is, tell them it’s a 24 inch saw. That’s about how high it is when I slip the radar tower off,” “Oh, so you can take it apart?” “Well, I need to tie the cans together because they would rattle about, otherwise its pretty stout. Remember that official that protested our wood sculpture last year?” “Oh, I do indeed,” “That was Mrs. Bonner,” “Oh yeah, I remember her, ha, ha, ha! I can’t wait until you unveil this at show time,” “Well, lets go to our space and dump some stuff off..”
“When we get there, we can put those three 55 gallon drums and six 2 x 4 x 12 boards. Then, We’ll go to Saguaro Arms and get the rest of the stuff, the trailer and a half ton of rocks. Tomorrow is set-up day, no selling is allowed because everybody needs to pay attention getting set up.” As I got into the truck Larry
said “You left the tailgate down,” “Yeah, I know. I don’t want anyone seeing the strange paintings and posters.” We set the drums in a row leaving a space for the trailer and truck to fit in. I don’t remember the dimensions of the spaces, but they were big enough to easily fit my 23 foot trailer and truck by its side. It left enough room so customers could walk inside the triangular periphery formed by the three drums and boards. I had already gotten a 3/4 inch plywood board to hold the sculpture. Larry would work on fire agate cabs sitting by the sculpture with a card table to hold the small grinder-sander combo. We buried an extension cord from the electric post provided by the show. It ran Larry’s cab machine and the switch to run the sculpture.
“Lets go get the rocks and trailer at Saguaro Arms so we can be ready to get in line by dawn,” “Okay, but aren’t you going to leave the contraption here? I mean, wouldn’t you wreak it going over the desert?” “Oh hell Larry, I may not have built it to machinist’s specs, but I built it to military strength. The framework is welded solid enough, I can go anywhere if I take it easy. I built it near the fire agate mine and it survived that road which is worse than Saguaro Arms Boulevard!” “Oh yeah, now we have a ‘boo la vhad’, just like in
Hollywood,” “Oh, of course, dhaah-link!” I said in uppah crust lingo.
We were always punny together, If I hadn’t met Larry, I think he might have remained chronically depressed. Being knowledgeable in a variety of technical books, it wasn’t hard for him to pick up on what R.D. Laing found in his patients, not broken parts of the societal machine, just parts that were not meant to fit in that machine.
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We stopped by the old Shell station-mini market-saloon combo. “Want to get some dynamite?” “No Larry, I don’t want to get in trouble before the show. Besides, I have a lot of canned food if you want more to eat.
I turned the pages in my spiral note book and showed it to Larry. (see Pages 5 through 8 for January, 2007) He read it with awe “How can you do this? All I see are mechanical inventions when I’m where we are, you know, Left Space,” “Well, you could probably make a rocket engine with + or - one 1/10,000 of an inch and all I can do is make contraptions like Societal Accomplishment,” “But, that was done to make people laugh and make a political statement and I think its going to work. No, I don’t think I would like to make rocket engines because that’s such big bucks only the government can do that,”
“Oh, I see. So NASA is all government?” “Well, its so expensive Uncle Sam has to tap the pockets of the Orwellian masses,” (See 16th Amendment scanned above).
. . .
I pulled into the date orchard and walked over to the main office. I rented the same space at the
Thieve’s Market. I had no idea that this would be the last year I would be allowed to rent a space because of my kinetic sculpture. But, for this year, I was ready to go. There were plenty of kids about 10 or 12 looking for menial labor like sweeping the grounds and helping at the carnival games. I got my spot and drove into the grounds to the Thieve’s Market. I placed the three 55 gallon drums to make a triangle shape. The spaces were much smaller than the ones in Quartzsite, but that was compensated by not having a pickup and trailer to squeeze in. I unloaded all that I had left to sell, mostly fire agate and thundereggs. I placed a violet, silk-like bed sheet over the tables where they met. I put Societal Accomplishment up on the front point of the equilateral triangle where people were walking from both directions like on a street corner. I had a 5 gallon bucket the kid would sit on.
Now, I had to locate a rather small but smart kid. I wrote notes to give to my choices and told them to pass this on to their parents as he may be here until about 10:00 P.M. The notes told their parents where they would be and how late, but they would simply have to turn a switch on and off. Out of each quarter dropped into the sculpture, he would receive 5 cents. It didn’t take long.
Sammy showed up before I was finished setting up.
“Hello mister, can I work for you,” “Why yes, did you give the note to your mother?” “Oh no, she knows I work at some of the carney games and I think a nickel out of a quarter is more than I ever got at those games,” “How old are you?” “Eleven,” “So Sammy. . .” “Sam is good,” “Okay Sam, here is what you have to do,” I said as I unveiled Societal Accomplishment and Sam said “What’s that?” “Oh, its just a funny machine,” “A machine, what does it do?” “Go out in front of it where all the people pass by and I’ll show you how it works and what you have to do,” When he got in front of it he was about to say “There’s a toilet seat in it,” “Yes, don’t let it scare you.” As soon as he was standing there, I said “See this switch and that pipe with a coin slot?” “Yeah,” “When someone drops a quarter in the slot, it will fall into a bucket and you need to turn the switch on for about half a minute.”
I turned it on and his eyes got big when the toilet seat came up and down. He watched the tin cans bouncing up and down and the radar tower clatter around and he began to laugh. “Wow, that’s cool, man. So, you want to give me five cents every time someone puts a quarter in, how many people do you think will put a quarter in it,” “Well Sam, I had it at a big rock and mineral show and people put quarters in it all the time, in five days we made about three hundred dollars,”
“Oh wow, and I get a nickle and that means I can make, ah, how much would that be,” “If we make three hundred, you would make sixty dollars in five days. How does that sound?” “Golly mister, that’s a whole lot more than the carnies pay me!” “Yes, and all you have to
do is stay hidden under the silk sheet. One more thing, if the crowd gets small, just turn it on for free for about fifteen seconds and that will attract people and they almost always drop a quarter in to see it run again.
Okay?” “Oh sure mister . . .” “Oh I’m sorry, my name is Paul,” “Oh, I thought you were Geode Kid,” “Oh, that’s a name people call me because I love geodes.”
Sam said that he would be here at 9:00 A.M. in the morning ready to make money and he was there waiting for me with a face full of enthusiasm. “Well Sam, I guess you’re ready to go,” Oh yes mister Kid, I sorry, I forgot your name,” “Oh, its Paul Roderski, but I kind of like Mister Kid, it has a ring to it. In fact, if anybody asks you about the mechanical contraption, you can point to me and say ask Mister Kid, he runs it,”
“Okay Mister Kid.” Now, I wondered, would I have another nickname pasted on me. It didn’t seem too complicated, in fact it may diffuse and confuse which would draw people to find out just who all these
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personalities were. I thought about spreading my names about as though I had a multiple personality disorder.
“YES!” I said to my self loudly, I’ll diffuse my personality when I got to Oregon State University yet only a week or two away. I was anxious to dig the gem quality carnelian on Moore’s Farm and make trips over to Corvallis when it rained.
The first vict, uh-em, I mean customers, started trickling in about 9:00 AM. Sam took his seat out of sight under the table and the sculpture was ready to eat quarters. Sam was only about five feet two inches tall.
The steel 5 gallon bucket was about a foot high. The 55 gallon drums holding the tables were about three feet high. The 2 x 4 inch x 12 inches long boards added about 2 more inches. When he sat on the bucket, his head touched the underside of the plywood board fitted to hold the sculpture. Sam needed another foot to sit without his head being bent down. At first, we raised the board the sculpture was on with other scrap boards and bricks. This still forced his head over too far. Then, a simple solution came to sam “Why don’t you get a pillow and put it on the ground? I can sit on it and rest my back on the barrels,” “Wow, why didn’t I think of that, would you be comfortable sitting on the ground?” “Its all tarmac and clean, no dirt to sit in,” “Mister
Kid, I’ll sit any way I can and turn the switch on. I could even lay down on this job,” “Where did you get that axiom,?” “Axe what?” “Oh, laying down on a job is what a boss calls one who is not working,” “Well, I think I can work in any position.”
This young boy was street smart and only eleven years old. It made me think of my days at eleven. I could paint landscapes in watercolor and the bullies made me get smart. Then the first quarter hit the bucket and Sam turned it on. It was amazing how fast a crowd gathered in the Thieve’s Market. While I made a killing at Quartzsite, the people who came into the Thieve’s Market were more liberal and free spirited and they crowded around the mechanical contraption as it rattled away. Sam either sat against the steel drum or laid down with his head on the pillow, watching the crowds as they dropped quarters in the slot and hit the bucket. I worried about him getting fatigued, but this 11 year old kid was making far more money than I did when I was his age.
Then some suited necktie asked if he could come inside the tables and wanted to ask some questions about the sculpture. He handed me his card, a reporter for the Riverside Enterprise, a large newspaper. I was glad to be interviewed. After two days, somebody who knew me came running up to my space and handed me the editorial page “Hey Kid, you made the Riverside newspaper! The editor likened me to P.T. Barnum”
After we were done on the last day, Societal Accomplishment had netted about $400.00. Sam had earned about $100.00 and said to me “Mister Kid, that’s the most money I ever had and it was fun, real fun,”
“Well, thank you Sam for making this a success.” That would be the last time I would see Sam. Apparently, he was homeless, but did alright with the carnivals. He was smart and polite. I would have taken him with me as a shovel partner, but I would have say that he was a relative or son. I only wish that he was older because I would not want another run in with the FBI for child stealing and other manufactured crime.
(Page 8 for September & October, 2007)