Chapter 8

CHAPTER VIII.

MONEY FOR BOYS.

Seven Ways to Get a Place—The Way a Boy Should Advertise—Openings Everywhere for the Right Kind of Boys—Beating the Booksellers—Stories About Smart Boys—Twenty-five Hints to Hang Your Fortune On—How a Towheaded Country Boy Became a Great Editor—A Barrel Full of Postage Stamps—How a Poor Boy Became the Richest Man in the Country—The Journey from Nothing to Forty Millions—The Best School in the World—The Beginnings of Great Fortunes.

Boys, you can do it! What! get rich? attain to fame? Yes, both. “But I have no chance.” Neither had Humphry Davy, nor Jay Gould, nor Henry Wilson. But the first became one of the greatest of scientists; the second, the richest man in the country; and the third, vice-president of the United States.

“The best school is the school of adversity,” said Rousseau, who, from a waiter in a restaurant, became the most noted man of his age. The boy, Horace Greeley, wandered up and down the streets of New York, asking of printers if they “wanted a hand,” and was everywhere laughed at and turned away; and the boy, George W. Childs, worked for $2 a week as a clerk in a book store, saved money, bought the Philadelphia Ledger, and became a millionaire.

“I have no capital,” you say. But you have ten servants (fingers) to work for you. Daniel Manning, ex-President Cleveland’s Secretary of Treasury, started as a newsboy. John Wanamaker, the great merchant, commenced in a book store at $1.25 a week. Fred Douglass, the colored orator, began life as a slave without a cent. And P. T. Barnum, the world-famed showman, rode a horse for ten cents a day. No chances! You have five on each hand. No capital! It is the blood that fights and wins. If you have no opportunity, make it. Do not wait for something to turn up; turn something up. Be a match for events. The world’s great and rich men have forced their way to success at the bayonet points of their fingers, and with the iron pry of an unconquerable will. Boys, here are a few hints for you:

Section 1. How a Boy can Get a Place.

SEVEN WAYS TO GET A POSITION.

  1. Free Service.—Make friends with a clerk. Offer to go with him on the delivery wagon. He will be only too glad of your assistance. The next step will be to help in odd jobs about the store. After a little familiarity with the business, you will find an opening. Your friendly clerk will have a sick day, or a leave of absence, or a vacation. The employer knows you have assisted the clerk, and will gladly give you his place for a day or a week, and from temporary employment it is but a step to a permanent place.
  2. Special Department.—Make yourself familiar with a particular department of the work of shop or store. Suppose you take a pound of tea. It will surprise you to find out how many things you can learn about so insignificant a thing as a pound of tea. Ascertain the different brands; what markets they come from; where they are raised; how they are manufactured; in what quantities they are shipped; what are the fluctuations in price; who are the largest dealers; in what section of the country the trade is chiefly carried on. A study of these things will suggest other branches. A year given to a study of this kind, and you will know more about tea than the most trusted employee, whose knowledge is commonly of a superficial kind. Then, if you have an opportunity, you can surprise the merchant with a knowledge of his business, and he will be sure to give you a place as soon as he has an opening. One merchant says: “I always have a place for a person who can tell me anything about my business I don’t know myself.”
  3. Show Superiority of Goods.—A man occupied his spare moments in measuring the linear feet of advertisements contained in the different Sunday papers, and sent the result to the one which had printed the most. Go around among customers and find what brand of goods they like the best. Then report to the makers of these brands, and you may be sure they will take an, interest in you if they see that you take an interest in them.
  4. Advertising.—Here is an advertisement for the right kind of boy: “A brisk-footed, up-to-date boy, not afraid to work, will take a place at low wages for the sake of learning the business.” Here you have four qualities in two lines—quickness, intelligence, industry, and low wages—the four things men are looking for, and such an advertisement will not wait long for a reply.
  5. Influence.—Great names are mighty. Introduce yourself to the greatest man in your town, and tell him your qualifications and ambitions. Do not be afraid of him. A truly great man is more willing to do a real kindness to a meritorious boy than you think. Robert Lennox, an old-time New York merchant, one Sunday at church saw a timid young person looking anxiously around as if for a seat. “Come with me,” said Mr. L., “and I will give you a seat.” The next day the young man took a letter of recommendation to the store of a merchant. “Can I get a small bill of goods to begin business with?” he inquired. “I will trust anybody that Robert Lennox invites into his pew,” was the reply. “I owe all my success in life,” said Jonathan Sturges, “to the invitation of Robert Lennox to sit in his pew.” With the great-and-good-man’s indorsement you will find places waiting for you.
  6. A Trial Week.—All many boys want is a chance. When you apply in vain for a place, tell the proprietor you are sure that he needs you, and that you will come a week for nothing (better a month if you can afford it). If you really have the merit you think you have, it will be strange if you cannot displace some indolent or indifferent employee.
  7. Commission.—Offer to sell the dealer’s goods on commission. You must leave a deposit to cover the worth of the goods. Take the articles to your friends and tell them you are trying to get a place. In most cases, if the goods are cheap, they will try to help you, and you will be able to make an excellent report to your employer. When he sees that your service means money in his pocket, he will be eager to employ you at a salary.

Section 2. What Boys Can Do.

TWENTY HINTS FOR BOYS.

  1. The Boy Magician.—For fifty cents you can buy a book entitled “The Parlor Magician,” containing one hundred tricks for the drawing room. A few weeks’ practice should make you master of these arts, and then with your outfit you are ready for a money-making tour. It is best to take along a friend, as in some of the most clever tricks you will need an assistant.
  2. The Glass-blower.—For twenty-five cents you can get a book with full instructions in the curious art of glass-blowing. The wondrous forms you will be able to produce, the pleasure of the work, and above all the money derived from the sale of your products, will delight the heart of any boy. There is money in glass-blowing after you have mastered the art, but if you would make a business of it you must apprentice yourself for a time to a master of the trade.
  3. The Dime Lunch.—There are thousands of business men and clerks in our large stores and offices who would prefer to pay ten or fifteen cents rather than go out to a restaurant. Especially is this the case in rainy weather. Pretty boxes with tasteful lunches could be prepared at a small cost, and taken through the places of business. The important item is attractiveness.
  4. Cancelled Stamps.—In every large city there are dealers who will pay you for canceled stamps. Ordinary stamps bring about ten cents per thousand, but rare ones bring very high prices. Ask all your friends for their canceled stamps. In a store in New York there are several barrels full of postage stamps collected by boys. Each barrel contains a million.
  5. The Boys’ Press.—Do you know you can get a printing press with complete outfit, a full font of type, and one hundred cards for $3? You can make money easily by printing cards and doing other small press jobs. Charge fifty cents, seventy-five cents, or $1 for cards, according to the quality of paper and amount of printing.
  6. Saw and Scroll.—Most interesting articles, both of use and ornament, can be made by the scroll-saw. Some have earned boys’ fortunes in making these curious articles, and there is as much pleasure in making them as in getting the money for them.
  7. The Magic Lantern.—The very best lantern and slides can be obtained for $6. From that figure the price runs downward to fifty cents. Purchase a good one and give parlor exhibitions at a charge of five cents admission. As you become more expert, you can increase your price. If you are a success at the business, your services will be in demand for more pretentious entertainments, where you can make $5 or more in a single evening.
  8. Candy Making.—What can please a boy better than candy making. Offer your services free for a short time to a confectioner. When you have learned the trade, which you can do in a little while, commence the business on your own account in a small way. Beginning with those sweets which are easily made, you can extend your art as your business increases until you have a good trade.
  9. Odd Jobs.—“I push baby carriages through the park at five cents apiece,” says a Chicago boy. “I clean and oil bicycles,” says a New York lad. “I stand on the Boulevard and pump up tires,” declares a third. “I buy a dozen lemons and a pound of sugar and sell lemonade on all holidays and at times of parade,” says an enterprising schoolboy. “I carry bundles and valises from the train, and make often fifty cents a day,” says a Boston youth. “I hang up a slate on the front gate and take store orders for neighbors,” says a bright village lad.
  10. General Employment Agency.—Inform a hundred or more families in a particular district that at a certain hour of the day you will be there to carry messages, roll out barrels of ashes, go on errands, mail letters, black boots, and do whatever work they may require. If the work is sufficient to warrant it, a business partnership of boys may be formed, so that while one is engaged another can go on his usual rounds, and thus insure punctuality.
  11. Collect Magazines.—Almost every one takes a literary magazine, and some take two or three. After a time they become refuse on their hands. Many persons would gladly give you a truck-load. But these are worth money, and second-hand dealers who sell them at five cents apiece will give you three cents for them.
  12. Vacant Lot.—If you live in the city, get the owner of a vacant lot to give you the privilege of raising vegetables. With a little experience you can easily raise from $50 to $100 worth of vegetables on a lot 20 × 100 feet. This will go far to eke out the support of a large family.
  13. Bicycle Teaching.—Here is a field for a stout lad of fifteen years. There are thousands of modest young ladies and men, especially elderly gentlemen, who would like to learn to ride a wheel, but do not like the publicity of a riding academy. Issue some neat cards and circulate them from house to house with the information that for the sum of $1 you will teach any one to ride. Most people have a back yard where such instruction could be given. Having no rent to pay, you could easily afford to take them for that price, as you have the advantage over the professional instructor, both of cheapness and privacy. There is a lot of money in this for the right kind of a boy.
  14. First-Cost Sales.—When public attention is aroused upon any subject, consider how you can turn it to account. Here is what a boy thirteen years old says: “When ‘Coin’s Financial School’ came out and the people were talking about it, I wrote to Mr. Harvey, the author, and got a lot of the books and sold them all before they got into the book stores here. I have made in this and like enterprises $500.” Like opportunities were presented in our late war, with the Dewey buttons, battleship pictures, etc. Keep your eyes open. Opportunities to make money, are all about you. The alert boy makes the successful man.

Boys, there is gold in all the mountains, pearls in all the seas, and money in every street. Elijah Morse at fifteen years of age bought a recipe for stove polish, paying $5 for the materials. He peddled it in a carpetbag, and from this small beginning grew the celebrated “Rising Sun Stove Polish,” whose huge factory covers four acres at West Canton, Mass., and whose proprietor is immensely rich. Cornelius Vanderbilt was a poor boy without a cent. When he died his estate was valued at $40,000,000.

Boys, there is a fortune for you. It is not to be found, but made by hard work. Write on your banner, “Luck is a fool. Pluck is a hero.”

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