/ by Dr Margaret Aranda /
In the early 70’s, it was okay to go door-to-door selling a plate packed with cupcakes. We sold them for 5 cents each.
I didn’t think we needed the money. Or, did we? Why, oh why are we selling cupcakes?
I’m so confused.
By now, I realized that many things in life were confusing to me.
I tried to figure them out. I tried and tried.
I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t figure things out.
…but with six girls and one boy, maybe my Mom just wanted us to do something productive. Like, get out of the house. I don’t know how this thought got into my brain.
My older sister stayed home (I have no idea how she managed that one, but she always seemed to leave when times got tough). I was left with Martha and Louise. That was a harbinger of things to come as I would ….well, tell you later…
That also left me in charge. Martha was one year younger than me, and in turn, Louise was one year younger than her. Virtually all seven of us were one year apart. The longest time period between babies was eighteen months.
We were properly dressed with white socks and shoes, sleeveless plaid blouses, and crisp pants that had a line down the middle; Mom liked to iron. I mean, she really liked to shoot the steam and make it gurgle after she sprayed it with corn spray.
I remember her sewing machine chirping along, and she must have had a part-time job on the phone for a time, as I heard her repeatedly say, “Call me back. My phone number is EX6-3836.” I have no idea. Maybe we did need that cupcake money. Image Courtesy automaticwashers.com.
Our hair had ribbons and bows; mine had tight braids that hurt my head, with little strips of ribbon actually inside and through the braids.
Our teeth were brushed, and we were ready to go. We lined up in the avocado green-and-mustard kitchen, waiting for Mom to give us the cupcakes. We thought this would be fun, although it wasn’t clear who would get the money.
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Figured the money would just go to Mom, but still.
Why did we need money, anyway?
We shrugged our shoulders in unison as she walked in the room to usher us out the door.
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She wasn’t tall, but to us, being kids, she loomed above us. We straightened up. She gave us a huge plate of cupcakes that we had not even helped to make or decorate. She did it all.
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She gave us detailed information on what to say when the person opened the door, how to sell them, and then she instructed us to give a napkin to each person, too. So I had two plates of cupcakes and Martha had the napkins; Louise held nothing, so she opened the door. We determined that if the house had a screen door, Louise would be the one to open it so that people could see the cupcakes.
Off we went.
The outside air greeted us with anticipation and excitement as we made our way with a variety of cupcakes. We had two plates, each colored with blue, pink, green, yellow, and then a coconut cupcake. There were multicolored sprinkles and little red sugar flakes that melt in your mouth right away. We didn’t get to eat any before we left, so we briefly contemplated just eating one or two.
But we quickly discarded that idea because there were three of us and it would be a noticeable difference if we didn’t get the right amount of money before we went home.
We didn’t want to steal.
Even if we were hungry.
The three of us went, the three “big ones” in the family walking up theRedondo Beach hilly street, then we captured the next corner. As usual for July, it was overcast and droplets of water were visible in the air as we walked through them with ease. If we weren’t on an official journey, we would have looked for cigarette butts on the ground and pretended to smoke, because when we exhaled, ‘smoke’ from the mist came out.
It was fun to pretend to be a grownup.
So we went to the first door. A nice lady opened the door, peered at the cupcakes with glee; immediately, she bought a few! She was wondering what we were going to do with the money, so we just told her we were giving it to our Mom. It didn’t occur to us that we could be making the cupcakes ourselves and saving the money to give to the poor, or to build a treehouse or something. She took the blue one, the coconut one, and the pink one. We had 15c. Off we went to the next house.
We did this again and again, becoming professional doorbell ringers.
Now, several people were not even home, and we had to walk a long way to get from one door to the next. I guess the houses were farther apart than they looked. Or maybe the plate was getting heavy. Three more houses, 7 more cupcakes sold. The sun was coming out now, heating up the remaining plate, and we were getting tired. And hungry. The cupcakes surely were really starting to sweat!
The jingle of nickels and dimes in my pocket
did nothing to make us feel any better.
I wanted to close my eyes and be out of here.
It was easier to carry, so I put one plate under the other when one plate sold. But that made for one heavy package that was getting heavier and heavier with each step. My arms were tired and the cupcakes insisted on toppling so I had to keep picking them up with my hand.
We were really hungry now.
We thought maybe we could lie and say a few of them dropped.
We were just discussing the plan, when the next door opened to our ring. The screen door was already opened, and we looked up to give our speech and ~~~~~~
Our eyes opened more than they could open!
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The lady had a mustache.
It was a real mustache!
It was thick and gray and it… it matched her eyebrows!
Oh! I can’t wait to tell my friends!
It was a Real Live Mustache on a Lady!
She was old, peppered gray hair and I don’t know how tall she was or what she was wearing or what she said, and actually I don’t know if she said anything at all.
For an instant we thought
we were being punished by God
for thinking of lying about the cupcakes.
Honestly, maybe she was a witch!
Maybe she had evil powers and she would try to grab us
and pull us into her house and stick us in a brew of some kind!
We glanced sideways at one another.
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We didn’t say a word.
I simply dropped the plate of cupcakes on the ground and then…
and one cupcake after another was toppling
down, down, smash, crumble, Oh My!
We ran and we ran all the way home.
We weren’t laughing, we weren’t being mean, we were just plain scared.
We ran and we ran and we ran.
You laugh now, seriously, but it wasn’t funny at all.
We were scared!
And yes, we never ever had to sell cupcakes again.
Read Dr Margaret Aranda’s Memoirs:
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