“Lion Hunter Wants Work,” Friend, June 1991, 41
“Josh, what’s the matter? You’ve been muttering to yourself ever since you sat down for breakfast. It’s the first day of summer vacation. You should be jumping for joy.”
I sighed. “Money, Mom. I need a job to earn money.”
She laughed. “How much? Fifty cents?”
“No. Lots. Fifty dollars would be nice.”
“That’s a lot. I can’t give you that much.”
“That’s OK—I want to earn it. It’s really important.”
“But why, honey? What for?”
“Mrs. Emery said that if the class can earn enough money, we can help Jenny Wong. She has to go to Boston for eye tests and a special pair of glasses. They cost a lot, and Jenny really needs them.”
“That’s a super idea, Josh. But what do you think you might do?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been trying to think of something all week. The whole project’s a secret. We want to surprise Jenny and her mother. Mrs. Wong’s been saving money for a year, Mrs. Emery told us, but still needs a lot more.”
“Is Jenny the girl you read aloud to sometimes?”
“Yes. We take turns. Her mother told the school nurse about these special glasses, and the nurse told Mrs. Emery. The class voted to make it our summer project.”
I went out and sat on the front steps to think. Across the street, Mr. Zelinsky was cutting his lawn. Back and forth he went, changing his lawn from a sea of dandelions to a smooth green carpet.
“These pesky weeds look like gold pieces from there, don’t they, Josh?” he called across to me. “My wife loves them. I hate them, but I’m teaching this bunch a lesson. The only trouble is that they’ll be right back up.”
Gold pieces, I thought idly. Up and down the street every lawn but ours shown brightly with “gold pieces.” My dad digs them out with a forked tool. “It’s the only way to beat a dandelion,” he tells my mother. “It’s tough on my back—but worth it.”
POW! The idea hit me. I scrambled to my feet and raced to my room, fished a big piece of cardboard from under my bed, grabbed a black marker, and began lettering like mad. In minutes it was done:
LION HUNTER WANTS WORK!
No lawn too big or too small
2¢ per lion dug
Call DIGGER JOSH, 555-3996
Now for a test. I carried my poster across the street and showed it to Mr. Zelinsky. “Will people hire me?” I asked. “I can do a good job.”
“Will they!” he snorted. “And I’m first. Josh, you’re hired right now. I want every pesky dandelion in this front lawn dug. Just tell me how many when you’re done.”
That was my start. Later that afternoon I finished—score: 187 dandelions, $3.74, an aching back, and joy in my heart! Zillions of dandelions to dig! All summer to work! I’d get all the other kids to go into business in their neighborhoods.
After a bit of R&R—rest and refreshments—I started out with my sign. By suppertime I’d helped seven classmates make their own signs and begin getting people lined up. Tomorrow I’ll tackle the biggest lawn on our street. It’s good for at least six dollars—if my back holds out.
Bed sure felt good when I tumbled in tonight. I know I’ll dream about dandelions, dollars, and eye glasses. Jenny’ll get her glasses for sure. How can a classful of lion hunters miss?