This Dr. Mary story is a favorite of my good friend Dominique Metreaud who has urged me for years to write these stories down.
One lazy Summer afternoon when other fourteen year olds were wasting their time playing baseball my friend Gregory and I were making plans to conquer the business world. We were always looking in vacant lots or neglected wooded areas for interesting junk either for a fort or something we could sell for a few bucks and on this day we could hardly believe our luck. Covered in brush, mud and rust we found our future-a five foot tall gum machine. We carried it to Gregory's backyard where there was a hose hook up. For hours we washed, scraped and oiled and what we had in the end was one disgusting gum machine, but in our eyes it was a beautiful moneymaker. The premise was that the customer inserted a penny and then pulled a lever and one stick of gum appeared in a tray. Now here is the genius part. We knew we could but six packs of gum for five at the local grocery store. This meant that for every 30 pieces of gum sold we would make five cents! We were so happy that we had paid attention in math class! School really did teach something practical!
The next step was where to place this cash cow so we could spend our days drinking soda and and count our growing wealth. Who needs school? But what lucky business would we favor with our gum machine. And then it came to me!-my mother's chiropractic waiting room. There was a steady stream of patients coming and going who were basically bored and hungry and would be so appreciative of a nice inexpensive snack. I could see my mother's smiles and hear her words of appreciation at being the only chiropractor with a penny gum machine in her waiting room Why she might even increase my allowance. We carefully carried the gum machine and placed it in place that could not be missed by the patients and then went off for our next adventure-our work was done here. Hours later we came back to my house. My mother's office was on the first floor and we lived on the second and third floors. We approached the house from the end of a dead end street. There was a path through some woods and then we entered our backyard which was really a combination of our lawn and my Grandmothers lawn. I looked up and saw my grandmother sit on her second floor porch with her arm on a wooden railing. I was thinking how comforting my world was in that I knew where everyone and everything would be. Even the birds seemed to be where they should be but there was one object that was out of place . Our gum machine was a wreck and looked like it had been dropped from a ten story building.
We found out later from a patient that sometime that afternoon that my mother noticed the gum machine. She had turned bright red and was ranting and raving about "my reputation" and "I'm going to kill my lunatic son!" She had carried the machine to the back of the house and let it fly and with it were dashed my hopes of having a business career. What saved my life was that my mother had no short term money and by the time she finished her work day and joined me for supper she had forgotten all about the gum machine. Now for a validating post mortem. The next day Gregory and I open the cash receptacle and pocketed 12 cents. We were on our way to riches after all.