When Ruby was a young girl, her school in Northland had a fair once a year, in the spring. It offered the usual school fair “stuff” of the era; games of chance, 4H projects, etc., and students could show off (and sell) their needlework and baked goods.
One year, Ruby won a needlepoint contest – got a trophy and everything. Another year, she and her sister Joycie entered a singing contest. They won 10 cents each for climbing up on the back of a hay wagon and singing “The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me.”
The real killer year for Ruby, though, was The Year of the $5 School Cake.
She and her sisters each baked up something to sell at the school bake table every year. This year, Ruby had baked a chocolate layer cake. It was a beautiful cake and she was really proud of it.
On the walk to the fair, Ruby fell behind a little, walking veeeerrrryyy carefully to make sure her cake survived the journey intact. She was just coming to the edge of the fairground, far behind her sisters, when a stumbling drunk guy comes reeling towards her, and stops her.
“Hey,” says the drunk. “Whad’ya got there?”
Ruby tells him she’s got a chocolate cake to put on the school bake table.
The drunk says, “Yeah? I’ll give you $5 for it.”
Ruby, not being stupid, promptly handed him the cake. $5 richer, she went wandering around the fair grounds until she found her father at the ice cream stand.
Her father loved ice cream. He looked forward to the school fair every year, just so he could get an ice cream cone. He also loved children, and every year, he bought every kid that came along an ice cream cone too.
When Ruby found him, he asked, “Did you sell your cake?
Ruby said, “Yup,” and told him about the drunk, and showed him the $5.
Now, Ruby’s dad had probably just blown (at 5 cents a cone over 20 or 30 kids) around a buck and a quarter. Ruby, on the other hand, had just gained $5 by scalping her own school cake. All her father could think of to do was laugh.
Ruby has no memory of what she might have spent that $5 on, and it drives her crazy that she can’t remember.
“That was an awful lot of money back then,” she says.
All I can picture when she tells this story, is the drunk – stumbling through the woods and across fields carrying a chocolate layer cake…
Not-So-Random Song-for-the-Day: “The Little Shirt My Mother Made for Me” – Marty Robbins