Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sheila Stoll: When life gives you lemons, beware

Becky and Billy lived on Capitol Street, at the west end of a 5-acre lemon grove. Ned and Nancy lived on Community Street at the east end of the grove. Both sets of siblings were bright, energetic grade-schoolers in the little town of Enterprise.

During lemon season, Mr. Brown, who owned the grove, let the children glean the lemons that fell to the ground or were deemed otherwise unworthy. But lemons aren't apples so no one picked them ripe to just eat on the spot. The kids brought some home and urged their mothers to make pies and cakes, and of course, everyone enjoyed sipping lemonade at that time of year.

Becky and Billy decided to open a lemonade stand in front of their house on Capitol Street. Ned and Nancy did the same thing. For the first week both stands did a brisk business at 15 cents a glass and earned a tidy profit.

In the second week, Becky and Billy decided to offer Mr. Brown a penny each for the lemons that never hit the ground, the good ones. Using the premium fruit, they put up a sign about the improved quality of their lemonade and started charging 25 cents a glass.

Ned and Nancy offered to pay their little brother, Nathan, a penny for each lemon he gathered and then they started to charge 25 cents a glass. Nathan was saving up for a bicycle. They put up a sign about Nathan's bicycle fund and most people didn't mind paying a little extra for a good cause. So they made up a contract for the people on Community Street that obligated people on that street to buy all their lemonade from Ned and Nancy. They promised that after Nathan got his bicycle they would use some of their proceeds to benefit other bikeless kids on the block.

Becky and Billy thought it was cheating to make an exclusive contract with all the families on Community Street. Ned and Nancy thought the other entrepreneurs on Capitol Street were cheating to charge 25 cents per glass because the good-looking lemons didn't really make better lemonade. Becky and Billy didn't want anyone on Capitol Street to buy lemonade from Ned and Nancy.

The competition was fierce. Soon Becky and Billy had Quality Lemonade signs up everywhere. They started a Lemonade Club and gave all their customers a card that showed how many glasses each person bought. When the card was full the card-holder would get a free glass of lemonade.

Ned and Nancy told all the people on Community Street that if their kids helped collect lemons from the ground in the grove and opened branch stands along the street, they could pool their money, get bikes for everyone and have a modest profit. They would all earn the same amount and the neighborhood would benefit from the wholesome after-school activity that operating all the stands would rack up. It sounded good.

Ned and Nancy's activity at the east end of the grove did not go unnoticed. Becky and Billy needed to up the ante for their stand on Capitol Street at the west end. Becky made a startling suggestion: Instead of paying kids to pick lemons, they could buy concentrated lemon juice, use corn syrup instead of sugar and make enough for each of them to buy a moped. They could hire a few kids to make fancier signs, pick enough beautiful lemons to make a display on their expanded lemonade stand, and still make enough for their mopeds. After all, lemon juice is lemon juice and sweetener is sweet.

Meanwhile on the east side of the grove, Nancy and Ned discovered that some of their franchised stand operators were grumbling about having to turn in their money and all share equally in the profits. Some didn't care whether kids near the ends of Community Street got bikes or not.

Mr. Brown watched these developments and wondered how it would all turn out. Feelings were running high. There were those who were pleased at the enterprising attitude Billy and Becky showed. There were also those who thought that Becky and Billy had become selfish and were resorting to trickery.

There were also those who thought that Nancy and Ned were becoming tin pot dictators stifling the enterprise of kids who wanted to get ahead on their own.

Parents were yelling at each other. On the west side people faced east and yelled "Filthy Communist!" at the east side bunch. On the east side of the grove, they faced Capitol Street and yelled "Filthy Capitalists!" Mr. Brown feared a confrontation mid grove.

Mr. Brown called a meeting. He spoke of moderation. He spoke glowingly of Ned and Nancy's compassion. He extolled the resourcefulness of Becky and Billy. He chastised all the parents for name-calling. "Why can't we all learn from each other. After all we're Lemonists at heart."

Write to Sheila Stoll in care of LifeTimes, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Sheila Stoll: When life gives you lemons, beware 07/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 27, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Democratic ad: Adam Putnam is 'silent' on GOP health bill

    Blogs

    Democrats are trying to attach Adam Putnam to the GOP’s unpopular plans to replace Obamacare.

  2. Competition and uncertainty keep New Port Richey's Steve Miklos hooked on power boat racing

    Outdoors

    HOLIDAY — If Steve Miklos could have it his way, every power boat race would take place in rough water. He finds the turbulent conditions calming, an attitude he's developed during a professional power boat racing career that spans hundreds of races dating back to 1991.

    Steve Miklos, the throttle man and owner of the No. 51 Sun Print Racing boat, poses at his shop in Holiday. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Did a Cubs player give Trump the middle finger during a White House visit?

    Ml

    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on …

    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on social media.
The photo, taken by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, purportedly shows outfielder Albert Almora Jr. flipping a bird while standing just feet from Trump as the other players were gathered around his desk. [Gordon Wittenmyer via Twitter]
  4. Florida's death row population lower today than it was in 2005

    Blogs

    The last person executed in Florida was Oscar Ray Bolin on Jan. 7, 2016, making him the 92nd person to be executed since Florida resumed capital punishment in 1979. The last condemned inmate to join death row , convicted double-murderer Craig Wall of Pinellas County, arrived on June 6, 2016.

    The execution chamber at Florida State Prison
  5. Adele may never tour again: read her emotional note

    Blogs

    Adele is wrapping up a monster world tour, and it sounds like it took a lot out of her. 

    Adele left this note in her tour program, and fans posted it on Instagram.