An Autobiography: Chapter 22, Lighter Than Air


| 8/13/2012 1:29:34 PM


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In my childhood, the celebration of Halloween was a big civic affair in Covington and Greater Cincinnati. In Covington, Madison Avenue, the main street, was blocked off from traffic from 5th Street to 8th Street so the revelers could have the entire street to parade and do their innocent mischief. Hundreds of people, both children and adults, dressed in costumes, and confetti was sold. It was a great sport to take a handful of confetti and throw it at the passersby, especially the boys throwing to the girls.

Halloween Kids 

Kids celebrating Halloween in the 1930s. 

I was selling papers in 1938, when I had my first commercial idea, to make confetti and sell it. My brother Edwin helped me, and for weeks we punched out paper of all kinds to make our confetti. I didn’t know you could buy actual confetti in bulk. We got small brown bags and sold our confetti two bags for a nickel. Well, our confetti was a poor grade, and we had many dissatisfied customers. It seems our paper – mostly newsprint – didn’t have any body to it and just didn’t make good confetti. When you threw a handful, it came falling to the ground before hitting the victim! My profit was $1.32, but I wasn’t discouraged. The next day I was thinking about the following year.

That year, I knew to get a better paper and made a profit of $5. My confetti empire was growing. In 1940, I discovered a company in St. Louis that sold commercial confetti, and I purchased a box of 50 pounds, and that evening’s net profit was $13. In 1941, I bought 100 pounds, bagged for four weeks, and had boys selling on four corners. It rained all morning that year before finally clearing off, but I think the weather in the evening was still keeping people home. The profit was $27. I figured if my business kept growing, I would eventually be the Confetti King! Think big!

The next year, 1942, I bought 250 pounds and had more boys working for me. The war was on, and the celebration wasn’t like it was in the past, but I netted $49.65. We stopped selling until 1947, when people were getting back into celebrations. That year I had 4,000 bags and eight boys working corners; I gave them 65¢ per hour. My estimated profit was $118.75.




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