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JIM “PAPPY” MOORE: Popcorn! Peanuts!

By Jim “Pappy” Moore

As football season draws to a close, my mind goes back to the days when local football games meant money in my pocket.

When I was a twelve-year-old in Junior High I had a weekend job at a grocery store across the highway from the papermill on highway 103 east of Lufkin. It was about a mile from my house. I would ride my bike down there on Saturday and do all kinds of odd jobs for the store. I had other ways of making money, but that one paid 50 cents an hour and I would put in a good four hours a weekend.

I also had a job at school working in the cafeteria. That one paid $1.25 a week. I would leave class early at lunch, go to the lunchroom, eat my lunch, and then spend the rest of the time cleaning tables and washing dishes. I got to eat in payment for my services. This allowed me to keep the $1.25 a week my parents gave me to pay for my lunch at school. Unlike me, the other kids working for lunch were doing so without getting any money from their parents. Between my lunchroom job and my grocery store job I pulled down $3.25 a week. That was when you could buy a candy bar for a nickel and a soda for under a dime. The movie was 25 cents. 

During the fall of the year I made extra money by hawking popcorn and peanuts at Lufkin football games. I got free tickets to the games since I played football, but once inside I was all about making that spending money. I would sell popcorn and peanuts from the concession stand, walking up and down the stadium stairs yelling “popcorn! peanuts!” I could sell twenty of those at ten cents a piece and get $2 in revenue, of which I got to keep 25 cents. I could pocket anywhere from $2 to $4 during a game just by selling popcorn and peanuts. 

I learned early to stay away from selling cold drinks in the stands. They were heavy, they could spill, and it was harder to serve customers. With peanuts and popcorn, I could have a customer pass their money to me through other fans, and then I’d throw the popcorn and peanuts right to the customer from my place standing in aisle steps. I became very good at tossing those bags with high accuracy. That was back when people were generally nice and did not engage in any sort of meanness toward those selling them such items. 

Toward the end of the game the concession stand would start winding down. We would settle up and I would get paid. The guy running the stand would usually give me a free hot dog and drink, so I got to eat, too. All in all, it was a great way for a kid to make a few dollars without spending a dime, and watch the end of the football game, and get fed for free. I cannot express how wonderful I felt that whole situation was. 

Watching the game some and seeing those high school cheerleaders and twirlers was a nice bonus, too. When you are in junior high, you look up to those students in senior high. They’re practically grown-ups!

In the off-season I would supplement my income by going door to door, selling whatever I could get sent to me on consignment, where I had to pay for the goods after I sold them. Sell 10 boxes of cards for 75 cents each, then keep 25 cents for each and pay the company 50 cents on each sale. I always sold out a box of ten, netting $2.50 for my trouble. 

I turned fourteen right before my 9th grade year started and I was able to get my full driving license by mid school year. That allowed me to take a real job after school making 90 cents an hour, which was real money in those days.

Life was good for this boy when he was 12-14 years old. I always had earned money in my pocket. Movies, food, gasoline, and clothes. All mine to buy as I saw fit.

Copyright 2024, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

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