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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

More than a Lemonade Stand: Childhood Memories

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Happy Fourth of July! We are now getting into the heat of the summer which means only one thing... LEMONADE!

I don't know about you, but lemonade is the main staple refreshment when it comes to summertime. Unlike some people, I love my lemonade strong, potently strong.

My love of lemonade didn't start from the love of drinking it, in fact, I don't remember much about it until the age of 8 when I woke one morning, walked out to the kitchen, and told my mom I wanted to sell lemonade.

My desire to collect, yes collect, money had kicked in about a month prior when I sat, spread out on my bedroom floor with a tin container counting the little money I obtained from past Christmases and birthdays which made out to be a whole $119.42. I needed to have more. Thus, I'd written an entire list of ways an 8-year-old could earn money including raking leaves, shoveling snow, selling cookies, to even a lemonade stand.

I remember my mom was a bit irked by the sudden need to sell lemonade but as a single mom who had to get a bunch of chores done for the day this was a great way for her only child to occupy her time.

After an incident with the lemonade powder flying everywhere and the pitcher left in the fridge to chill we pulled out my red Mickey Mouse kiddie table with matching chair from the play shed, dragging it to the corner of our driveway lot. I penned a sign taping it to the front stating 'Lemonade $0.01'. That's right, only $0.01.

Unlike my tin container, my mom had a popular clay jar topped with a cork and a funny saying on the front which held the coins I needed for change. Dumping the change into a beat-up plastic bowl and handing me the pitcher of lemonade I was sent out on my own lathered in sunscreen and an umbrella dangling from my wrist for extra ray protection. My mom watching from a distant watering the lawn.

I settled down looking over the slapped together lemonade stand. My cute table and sign were small, and barley held the cups, pitcher, and bowl of change. Now I just had to wait for my first customer. While I patiently waited, I entertained myself counting the bowl of change over and over again. I learned during the school year how to count and give back change from the fake store my classmates and I had crafted out of cardboard boxes in the corner of the classroom. But practice always made perfect.

As the sun slowly began to rise along with the heat, the crunching of gravel and the sight of cop car pulling in the drive sent me for a loop. Was I in trouble?

The cop stepped out leaving the door open behind him and with hands on belt strode up to the table. "One cup, please."

I smiled happy to know I wasn't in trouble and poured the man a cup. He handed over a dollar bill and began chugging down the glass while I counted change. Before I could hand it over though, he finished his drink and replied, "Keep the change." Then strode back to his car, reversed, and was back on the road.

I had made my first dollar! I couldn't believe it.

I didn't have to wait long until neighbors and people passing by stopped to get a drink. All of whom kept letting me keep the change with some people leaving five- dollar bills. My pitcher was getting close to empty but before I could do anything about it, my mom appeared with another cold pitcher taking away the empty one. And so, this repeated throughout the day until 6 pm when it was time to go in for dinner. After washing up, we totaled the earnings for the day to a whopping $60. I was so happy! So happy in fact, I knew for the rest of the summer I'd be sitting on the corner selling lemonade every day.

Our house, a corner lot, sat on one of the busiest 4 way stops in the middle of town. People driving from the main streets would use our street as a way to get to and from downtown. This, and the fact my mother had almost a circular driveway, mixed for the perfect combination of traffic flow for my lemonade stand.

Every day I would sit at the corner of the drive waiting for customers. My mom and I had come to an agreement, that with some of my profits she would go and supply me with new cups and a constant flow of lemonade throughout the day.

Instead of $0.01, I changed my sign to say $1 which gave me a larger profit margin. Every morning, I would post signs a few blocks down in either direction for people to hopefully see and come that direction.

My small lemonade stand was booming! Then, I struck gold.

Down the road construction was taking place and due to my lovely signs caught the attention of the workers. One of the men came up to me wondering about a deal. Whenever he stopped by, he would pay me $10 in exchange for one pitcher of lemonade. He would then return once it was empty to which he would give me another $10 for another pitcher. This happening multiple time a day plus the now constant flow of traffic would bring in anywhere from $80 to $150 dollars a day and I was beginning to get repeat customers from the neighborhood.

After two years of the small Mickey Mouse table, I was upgraded to an actual wood pop up stand my mom's friend had built for me. Each morning, I would lug it to the corner, unfold the sides and prop open the top which contained a chalkboard sign I would change whenever I wanted.

Not only did I upgrade the stand, but I invested in a cooler where I kept bottles of water, and large chunks of ice frozen the night before. These chunks of ice weren't to keep the water cool but were used for the new snow cone machine I had purchased. My mini snow cone machine was manual which meant I had to shave down the ice into an adorable cone shape cup. I had several flavors to choose from including lime, cherry, and raspberry. I even purchased a new pitcher from Pampered Chef with a built-in mixer.

Whenever friends would come by, they would also help by shooting bubble guns my mom had purchased to catch people's attention or wave at the nearby corners. The constant stream of people even caught the local news's attention. There, on the 5 o'clock report was my little stand helping customers with a glass of lemonade.

This continued for another four years until one day I realized I was getting to be too old. That didn't stop me though. My last summer before entering high school I made the decision to hire on my three cousins, the oldest being the same age I was six years prior. I still ran the stand as they waved their little hearts out but as the hours drug on, I could tell they weren't as commit to the craft as I was. And so, I made the choice to finally close up shop.

The tin container which had been promoted to an actual savings account held more money than most adults. Even though the lemonade stand that brought so much joy was coming to an end my need to save money was still strong. For four years prior, I was not only working the lemonade stand during the day but would often help my dad at this candy store for some extra cash. My mom's friend had also landed me an interview working for a vet clinic across town where I would begin working part time as a kennel assistant. That was 22 years ago.

To this day I offend think back to selling my first cup of lemonade. Without the need or desire to want money I don't think I would be where I am today. That tiny lemonade stand not only paid for my college but helped me to understand how to communicate with strangers and be a great business manager which is knowledge I still use on a daily basis. This is something I am super grateful for along with the help of my mom who supported the lemonade stand during that time.

For those of you wondering what ever happened to my lemonade stand, well it's gone. The original Mickey Mouse table and chairs were sold about 12 years ago in a garage sale while the pop-up stand eventually fell apart which resulted in it getting tossed. We shockingly still have the umbrella which shaded me from the sun for so many years ago.

I accidentally snapped off the handle to the snow cone machine back in college which I'm honestly surprised didn't happen sooner. Lastly, my prized possession, the Pampered Chef pitcher. I brought that pitcher with me everywhere until last summer when I decided it was time for retirement. No matter how many washes the stickiness and buildup of lemonade just wouldn't wash off after all these years. I was sad, but not surprised to find out this style of pitcher was no longer sold. But a few days after tossing my beloved pitcher I found an exact replica at Goodwill for only a few dollars. So of course, I snatched it up!

Whenever I look at a glass of lemonade it brings me back to those hot summer days and I hope to always remember those times.

Do you have childhood experience that has helped shape your life? Let me know in the comments below! Go get a glass of lemonade while you're at it!

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