Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The capitalist years of an 11-year-old

Kids watch older brothers - probably a really important part of learning about life – and when this fellow was a blue-eyed blond child, what astonishing things I was to experience in brother Peter’s young years.
I’ve been telling aspects of Peter’s life in two previous tales here. His death this week enthused memory and reminded me of his astonishing and quite unique life experience.
It seems to be Nature’s way that younger brothers revere the eldest which of course makes them almost perfect subjects for manipulation. And yet at the time, little slaves aren’t aware of it – even enjoy it.
The first really report-worthy experience happened in a temporary hydro-electric township beside the massive dam on which my father was working (in the design department, I gather).

Pumpkins for profit

Here Peter suddenly embarked on the capitalist life of a retailer. He imported a massive number, lorry-loads, of pumpkins that he bought from a man he had met in a nearby town.
Pumpkins! They were a new vegetable in our life. I was enlisted as fellow worker to comb the town for people who wanted to buy bargain-price pumpkins.
Getting vegetables for locals in that cut-off town was a challenge, and Peter’s pumpkins were a novelty.
We took the orders – and the money – and the next night delivered the huge vegetables.
He was 11 and making money, very much more than came in our family 6d a week pocket money handouts.
A little later, perhaps when he was as old as 10, he negotiated with his supplier friend for … chickens. Only these poor little creatures were alive. It seems extraordinary now, but once we had combed the town for orders – and there were plenty – Peter alone slaughtered the lot of them.
There were scores of them. The ten-year-old cut the throats, or throttled or beheaded the sad little things.

Skinned for a better price

For a greater profit, some were skinned – plucked - and those sold for a rather higher price.
His slave brother certainly wanted no part of the slaughter, but I was allowed to help with the defeathering.
Added to the honour of helping the elder brother, I was even allowed to stagger, well laden, to help deliver the stiffening corpses to the neighbourhood.
Capitalism ended when ….
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventuring book, Sailing to Purgatory, at


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