The Good Old Days

My Mom used to have a quote hanging on the kitchen wall when I was a kid. "When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade." So when my daughter asked me the other day if she could set up a lemonade stand in front of our house, I couldn’t say no. After all, she would run the stand for an hour, a few Moms in neighboring houses would stop by and buy lemonade, and she might make $3.00. A great business lesson. No work at all for me.

My daughter and her friends made signs. They pulled out a table and three chairs and I made the first pitcher of lemonade. "Good luck!" I yelled as she grabbed the cups and the cold drink and rushed outside.

A few minutes later, I looked outside. I didn’t see any people in front of the stand, but the three kids were yelling at the top of their lungs, "LEMONADE!" every time a car drove past. I sat down to watch the news. Fifteen minutes later, my daughter burst inside. "Mom!" she shouted, "I’ve made $5.00 already!"

"WHAT?" I screamed. "My 401(k) didn’t make that much today!"

She grinned. "One guy stopped and gave us a bunch of coins and two dollars and he only drank a HALF A GLASS of lemonade!"

She ran back outside and I peered out the window. It was like the movie Field of Dreams. If you set up a tiny table with a lemonade pitcher, put three cute little girls in chairs behind it, they will come. A line of cars waited in front of the lemonade stand. My daughter ran to the house with her empty pitcher.

"More lemonade, Mom!" she ordered. "We have thirsty customers out there!"

As I mixed up two more pitchers, my daughter whispered to me, "I’m the manager. I’m counting the money and we have $10.00 now."

"TEN DOLLARS!" I bellowed. "When I had a lemonade stand, we made 50 cents and we were glad for it!"

"Mooooom," my daughter retorted, "Those were the old days."

"The GOOD old days," I corrected her.

After my daughter ran outside, I rustled around in the hall closet and pulled out a poster board, paint and brushes.

As I started painting letters on the poster, my husband walked in the room. "What are you doing?" he asked as he looked over my shoulder and gasped. "Help my retirement!" he exclaimed. "What does that mean and what is that sign for?"

"I’m starting my own lemonade stand on the other side of the driveway," I replied as I quickly began to make another pitcher of lemonade. "My retirement plan stinks and quite frankly, I need to be more aggressive about making money right now. I’m going to piggyback off the cuteness of those kids out there and see what I can do for our future."

"Good grief," he muttered, "I’ve seen it all now."

I walked outside with my sign. Only one kid was left in front of the table and he wasn’t that cute.

"Where’s the other kids?" I asked. "You know, the ones with pigtails and adorable smiles?"

"Oh, they took the lemonade and cookies in wagon and they’re going around the neighborhood selling it."

I sighed and sat at my table. Car after car drove by and the not-so-cute kid and I didn’t make a dime.

Two hours later, my daughter returned with two empty pitchers and a whole sack full of money. "We made $39.00!" she stated matter-of-factly.

I hugged her. "Congratulations!" I said. I secretly knew if we invested that money wisely now, she might have enough to buy one book for college.  There I was again … taking my Mom’s advice and making lemonade out of lemons.

Every summer, no one knows why adults stop at sidewalk stands run by miniature versions of ourselves and buy overpriced warm lemonade. It’s probably because we remember the times that we all had a stand just like that one and prayed and prayed that someone, just one car, would stop and buy a glass. It was a time in our lives that was simple and free of responsibility and when $5.00 seemed like a fortune.

Yes indeed, those were the good old days.


About Vicky DeCoster

Award-winning humor writer Vicky DeCoster is the author of "From Diapers to Dorkville," "Husbands, Hot Flashes, and All That Hullabaloo!" and "The Wacky World of Womanhood." She has been published in over 60 magazines, books, and on several web sites. Vicky lives in Nebraska with her husband and two children where she loves to laugh every day. Visit her at
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