Folks, like most teens during the Christmas school holidays I was time rich but cash poor. So, I’d rouse myself from bed at the crack of noon and set about making a few bucks.
I mowed lawns, pumped petrol, snorkelled for loose change and missing jewellery in the town pool and recycled aluminium cans. But my most lucrative income stream was collecting lost golf balls.
Each afternoon, I’d wander onto the golf course behind our home in Philip Street and search the murky, weedy creeks and long grass for lost golf balls. For some reason, it was around this time I developed a real eel phobia.
Anyway, back home I’d wash the balls, grade them for pricing, then Dad would take them to work and sell them to his workmates. Over the years, they were probably buying the same balls over and over again, but it was a neat little racket which paid for my first ten-speed pushbike, dinghy, books and Christmas pressies for my family and friends.
Then one summer an enterprising idiot appeared on the links who I nicknamed, Captain Stupid.
Captain Stupid was the sort of entrepreneur who preferred running onto the fairway and grabbing whatever balls he saw, often before they’d finished bouncing. This blatant opportunism really upset the golfers and, as a result, the greenkeepers were ordered to boot any kid they found off the course; with added clips under the ear for good measure.
Happily, I never got caught, but I did spend a lot of time hiding in the long grass, reeds, under bridges and occasionally underwater. How I never got mauled by eels, bitten by snakes, or struck down by some deadly, waterborne infection I’ll never know.
Anyway, Captain Stupids’ glittering career came to an abrupt end when he nabbed a ball from a golfer who recognised him and popped by his house later that night.
Life went back to normal, and the golf ball money started flowing back into the jar I kept in the cupboard. When I left school, I discovered there were much harder ways to earn a quid…