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JEAN SHEPHERD Kid Stories–Worms 6

“I gotta dig three hours to get five worms!”

 

 

 

 

I would like to give you some tips on keeping worms.  Some of the more obvious, of course, I don’t even have to tell you!  One: Keep worms in a cool place.  Don’t even try to raise worms in your apartment—it will not work.  Two: A question—how many of you know what a worm eats?  An obvious thing is, a worm eats earth.  Yes, he does.  However, in captivity, a worm demands more than that.  It may surprise you.  Primarily because he doesn’t have the area.  In the soil, a working worm covers a tremendous area where he’s eating.  So obviously, if you’re keeping him in this box with hundreds of them all together, there just isn’t enough room for them to cover.

So what do you feed a worm?  What does a worm like?  What does he grow fat and healthy on?  Well, you’re talking to one of the very few guys who knows what worms love.  And man, they go ape!  And get beautiful!  You start giving them this stuff and within two weeks, you’ve got yourself a three or four-pound worm on your hands.  And he’s got a smile on his face.  You’ve got a happy worm.  Sometimes at night you can hear him down there singing and playing and dancing—because you’re giving him the right stuff.

Well, there was another development which began to cause problems.  For one thing, it was causing a lot of trouble because the whole basement was filled with boxes now.  It was dark down in the basement and once in a while the old man would go down the basement to look for a screwdriver and he’s falling over the worm boxes and yelling and hollering.  “Will you get these worms out of here for crying out loud!”  So I built a rack along the side of the wall.  Just a plain, simple, two-by-four rack with all my boxes up on it.

And every night I’d water them and talk to them and mess around with them.  And I’d bring down the new ones that I’d dug up, see.  You have to introduce them to the old gang gently.  You don’t just throw the new worms in there and say, “Here, sink or swim.”

And then, as the crowd began to grow and as I began to have more people coming in there, a new idea hit me.  Any of you businessmen who’ve gone through this know what this routine does to your business.  Up to this point customers had been just coming to me.  Guys were recommending other guys.

I’m walking home from the store when it hit me.  You see, I was getting greedy, voracious.  A man is never satisfied for what he can get.  He’s got to have more.  That’s why we’re going to the moon.  We’re not satisfied with having one earth.  Pretty soon we’re going to own the solar system.  We just gotta do it.

And I think—why of course—it’s so obvious!  Why didn’t I think of this before!  I rush like mad.  I put the bag of groceries in the kitchen, I run down to the basement and I’m, working away there, making a sign.  I saw a couple of big planks and hammer them together.  I make a big sign, painted white, and with red paint I put WORMS, and underneath, NIGHT CRAWLERS, GRUBS.  I take it out and my mother flips: “You’re not going to put that sign out in the front yard!”  So I figure the best place to put it is on the edge of the garage, which you can see from the street as you’re driving past the house.  I put the big sign there: WORMS, NIGHT CRAWLERS, GRUBS.

I want to tell you, it was right.  All I gotta say is, any you guys who have ever been doubting the value of advertising, don’t.  If my experience is any criteria, it was unbelievable.  Within five minutes after I put the sign up, guys were knocking on the door.  Little fat guys, tall skinny guys, knocking.  “This where you sell the worms?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be right with you, hold your water, will ya.  I got three other guys ahead a ya, for cryin’ out loud.  Wait out on the porch.”  Guys are waiting in line.

Then I ran into a disaster.  The bigger your business gets, the more problems you begin to run into.  I put my sign up and within two days—no worms!  The worms were gone and I was out there digging like hell.  And the worst part of it is that it was getting later in the season and worms were getting rarer!  In the early days of summertime, in the spring, I would dig for an hour and I’d have myself a couple of hundred worms.  Now, here it was July and I gotta dig three hours to get five worms!  And I was desperate ‘cause now I’ve had business—guys knocking on the door.

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