My First Big
Entrepreneurial Venture

Dateline: 24 May 2015

Seven years ago, when I turned 50, I posted a 20-part series to this blog titled "Getting Started & Finding My Way." In Part 17 of the series I told the story of receiving $4,000 from my grandmother back in 1978 (when I was 20 years old).

When I plug that number into an online inflation calculator, it reveals that $4,000 in 1978 had the buying power of $14,500 in 2015 dollars. It was a lot of money, especially for me at that time in my life.

Having grown up in a family that always struggled to keep the bills paid (and often didn't keep them paid), and having just worked 10 months on a dairy farm to earn enough money to buy my first car (and pay the insurance), I knew the value of a dollar, and I knew that I wasn't about to waste the money my grandmother blessed me with.

One of the things I did with the money (as explained in Part 17 of my series) was use it to start my first "big" entrepreneurial venture, which was a chimney cleaning business. The advertisement shown above was my first. I put in the local Pennysaver newspaper. I made the advertisement myself, which should be pretty obvious. Remember, there were no personal computers back then. 

You'll note from the advertisement that I was "EXPERIENCED." It wasn't a lie. I had cleaned exactly two chimneys with my new chimney cleaning equipment, both of which were on my parent's house. This next picture is a Polaroid of me on my parent's roof. 

I worked hard at my new business. I cleaned a lot of chimneys over the course of several years. Though I never made a lot of money with the business I easily recouped my initial investment and earned a decent amount for that time in my life. 

It was, however, the learning experience of the endeavor that was most valuable to me. I learned that I was capable of making at least some money on my own by being brave, and bold, and enterprising. I also learned that I liked the freedom of self employment.

But I didn't just clean chimneys to make money during this time of my life. I also attempted to make money by self-publishing and selling a brochure for homeowners about chimney cleaning...

It was a simple trifold brochure. Lacking computer capabilities, I used rub-on lettering for the cover and careful hand lettering for the interior text. It was a sad looking, totally-amateur production, but I was pleased with the finished product and had high hopes for it.

I figured that every hardware store in the country would want to make the brochure available to their customers. So I sent a sample and pricing to over a hundred stores.

I got the addresses by perusing the yellow pages of phone books from throughout the nation. The phone books were in the periodical room of the library in a nearby city. 

This brochure idea was actually my second attempt at making money by self-publishing and mail order (I wrote about my first mail-order scheme HERE). Amazingly, one hardware store manager actually bought some brochures from me. And that was the end of that great idea.

The dream of self-publishing and having a mail order business never left me. There were other attempts and failures over the years. And then, come 2002, I finally found a measure of success when I self-published 100 copies of my book, Anyone Can Build a Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker.

As many of you reading this know, the Whizbang plucker plan book was the beginning of a home-based mail order business that grew, evolved into Planet Whizbang, and has allowed me to break free from the wage slavery of a state prison job.

It's a good story. From my perspective, there is a sweet satisfaction in finally achieving my early dream. And There are important lessons in my story, especially if you are a young person...

For example, you are capable of making at least some money on your own, by being brave and bold and enterprising. Learn from your failures, but don't let your failures or shortcomings deter you from your dreams. 

If my modest example of persistence and success inspires you, then this little post will have served its intended purpose.

Clyde R. Kennedy

Dateline: 23 May 2015

Uncle Clyde & Aunt Dawn in 1958
(click picture for enlarged view)

Back in my July 2010 Blogazine I told about my Uncle Clyde Kennedy's new book, The Hard Surface Road: A Memoir of the Great Depression. It is the hardscrabble story of how one family, hard hit by economic devastation, managed to survive. The book begins as follows:

The stubborn pace of time cannot erase from my mind how fate, in one of its bleakest forms, set our family adrift in the throes of the Great Depression. Born on the first of January in 1923, I was seven years old when the Roaring Twenties curled up and died. Dad lost his job, the bank foreclosed on our mortgaged house, and our good life vanished like a dream at sunrise. Dad's brute strength, craving for work, and devotion to Mom kept our heads above water as we battled those cruel hard times. I wonder, though, what in the world would have become of us boys had it not been for our indomitable mother, who stood at the helm with her trust in the Lord.

The Grapes of Wrath, a famous novel of Depression-era hardship, won John Steinbeck the Pulitzer Prize. But that was just a novel, written by a man who did not personally experience the worst of Depression-era depravity. Clyde Kennedy's Hard Surface Road is, however, a firsthand account by a man who could never forget the reality of those days. As such, I believe it is a remarkable historical document.

The setting is Southeastern Ohio coal country, where Clyde's family on his father's side were moonshiners and Klansmen (he once told me his grandmother Kennedy was "a truly evil woman"—and the book gives some insights into that sentiment). 

I wish that Uncle Clyde's book was a little more affordable, but it is a self-published book. You can go to the Amazon link above and start reading with the "Look Inside" feature. 

Uncle Clyde passed away on March 1st of this year. You can Read His Obituary Here.

The picture above shows Uncle Clyde and Aunt Dawn (my mother's sister) in August of 1958. It was taken at my Grandmother Kimball's camp on Cross Lake in northern Maine. My mother took the picture. I would have been 7 months old at the time, and I'm sure I was there.

I remember the bear rug, though not particularly well. My best memories of that wonderful place are from when I was into grade school age, and by then the bear rug was gone.

My Old Roofing Hammer

Dateline: 22 May 2015

The weather has turned cooler here, which means it is an opportune time to shingle my roof. I tore off the old shingles (28 years old) and put tar paper on a few weeks ago.

This is only my first section of roof to do. There are three more sections after this one is finished. Total area to cover is 13 square (1,300 square feet). It will be a year-long project, as I have the time and energy to get it done. It might take two years.

You can tell I am something of an old timer by the fact that I'm hand-nailing the shingles. Most roofers now use a pneumatic nailer to get the job done quick. I've used pneumatic roofing guns in the past, but I'm not interested in getting the job done quick. Those days are behind me. The fact is, I happen to like nailing shingles by hand.

The hammer in the picture is one I bought back in 1979. The first contractor I worked for used such a hammer to hand-nail asphalt shingles. I got a lot of experience using it, and now I can't imagine not using it.

I've worked with several other people doing roofing over the years and none of them used such a hammer. 

The beauty of the roofing hammer is that, if used properly, it ensures perfectly straight rows of shingles. Start with a straight row, laid to a chalk line, and use the hammer to gauge the exposure of every shingle and row from there. 

I'm pretty certain the hammer was made for roofing with wood shingles (aka, "shakes"). The hatchet end would have been sharpened and used to split and shape shakes as needed. But the adjustable exposure-gauge works just as well with the modern Asphalt shingles I'm now using. In fact, the hammer has a maximum exposure setting of 5-5/8" which is exactly what the manufacturer of my shingles recommends.

When I (and my partner, Steve) had a home remodeling business, it was named, Bestbuilt Construction ("A company committed to excellence"). As I was working on my roof yesterday I thought to myself that if I were to go into the roofing business now, I'd have to name it Old Turtle Roofing. And the tagline might be, "Slow but sure."

My New Bee Hotel

Dateline: 21 May 2015

Bee hotel in foreground.
Bird house on a hops trellis pole in the background.
Bird on electric wire (click to see enlarged view)

I finally got around to building a bee hotel for my garden. That's it in the picture above. I made it with recycled pallet wood. It is mounted on top of a T-Post with a T-post platform (as explained on page 27-29 of my Idea Book For Gardeners).

You can learn more about bee hotels At This Link

Elimination of Cash?

Dateline: 20 May 2015

I mentioned Martin Armstrong here awhile back. His daily commentaries continue to set him apart in the world of alternative economic analysis and commentary. I'm sure he is not entirely correct in his analysis. No economic commentator ever is. But he has such a good a good grasp of history and current events that I'm powerfully intrigued by his future predictions.

Martin Armstrong's recent essay ( a short one) on the coming elimination of cash really got my attention. I'm seeing other articles on the internet about this too.

The elimination of cash and cash transactions does not in any way, shape or form benefit the citizenry of this nation. It only benefits government and the financial institutions. Here are three reasons why (from the viewpoint of the controlling elites) cash must be eliminated ....

1. Cash allows privacy in personal financial transactions. Privacy can not to be tolerated in a surveillance police state, which is exactly what America has become.

2. The elimination of cash and cash transactions in a surveillance police state means the government will be able to extract more money through taxation.

3. Many people are, evidently, saving cash (the government calls it "hoarding"). This is a normal human response to an increasingly unstable economy and uncertain economic future. If the use of cash is eliminated, enormous amounts of cash would return to the banks or be spent (while it still has some worth). This would benefit the banking industry and the economy.

Seeing as less and less people use cash anyway these days, and cash is so often associated with illegal activities, it's not hard to see that there will be a great many Americans who will support the elimination of cash. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the specter of terrorism (and fear mongering) are somehow utilized in a government sponsored propaganda campaign to condition the population to accept the elimination of cash. 

In the final analysis, many Americans are of the mind that if a new law doesn't affect them, then it's okay. But, as Frederick Douglas so famously said: "No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck."

Which brings to mind the famous quote by Pastor Martin Neimoller.

11-Day Parsnips

Dateline: 19 May 2015

(click picture for closer view)

Another short post....

 This Web Page About Growing Parsnips says you can normally wait a month for the seed to germinate.

That being the case, I wondered if the shade discs I used for tri-growing carrots (and getting carrot seeds to sprout quickly) might hasten the germination of parsnip seeds too.

Well, the picture above was taken 11 days after planting!

This is my first year to grow parsnips. I'm excited to be off to such a good start.

Tri-growing of carrots is in my Garden Idea Book (on page 87) and in my YouTube video series titled "Four Day Carrots."