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Junior Achievement   By:

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Fallout is, of course, always disastrous one way or another





"What would you think," I asked Marjorie over supper, "if I should undertake to lead a junior achievement group this summer?"

She pondered it while she went to the kitchen to bring in the dessert. It was dried apricot pie, and very tasty, I might add.

"Why, Donald," she said, "it could be quite interesting, if I understand what a junior achievement group is. What gave you the idea?"

"It wasn't my idea, really," I admitted. "Mr. McCormack called me to the office today, and told me that some of the children in the lower grades wanted to start one. They need adult guidance of course, and one of the group suggested my name."

I should explain, perhaps, that I teach a course in general science in our Ridgeville Junior High School, and another in general physics in the Senior High School. It's a privilege which I'm sure many educators must envy, teaching in Ridgeville, for our new school is a fine one, and our academic standards are high. On the other hand, the fathers of most of my students work for the Commission and a constant awareness of the Commission and its work pervades the town. It is an uneasy privilege then, at least sometimes, to teach my old fashioned brand of science to these children of a new age.

"That's very nice," said Marjorie. "What does a junior achievement group do?"

"It has the purpose," I told her, "of teaching the members something about commerce and industry. They manufacture simple compositions like polishing waxes and sell them from door to door. Some groups have built up tidy little bank accounts which are available for later educational expenses."

"Gracious, you wouldn't have to sell from door to door, would you?"

"Of course not. I'd just tell the kids how to do it."

Marjorie put back her head and laughed, and I was forced to join her, for we both recognize that my understanding and "feel" for commercial matters if I may use that expression is almost nonexistent.

"Oh, all right," I said, "laugh at my commercial aspirations. But don't worry about it, really. Mr. McCormack said we could get Mr. Wells from Commercial Department to help out if he was needed. There is one problem, though. Mr. McCormack is going to put up fifty dollars to buy any raw materials wanted and he rather suggested that I might advance another fifty. The question is, could we do it?"

Marjorie did mental arithmetic. "Yes," she said, "yes, if it's something you'd like to do."

We've had to watch such things rather closely for the last ten no, eleven years. Back in the old Ridgeville, fifty odd miles to the south, we had our home almost paid for, when the accident occurred. It was in the path of the heaviest fallout, and we couldn't have kept on living there even if the town had stayed. When Ridgeville moved to its present site, so, of course, did we, which meant starting mortgage payments all over again.

Thus it was that on a Wednesday morning about three weeks later, I was sitting at one end of a plank picnic table with five boys and girls lined up along the sides. This was to be our headquarters and factory for the summer a roomy unused barn belonging to the parents of one of the group members, Tommy Miller.

"O.K.," I said, "let's relax. You don't need to treat me as a teacher, you know. I stopped being a school teacher when the final grades went in last Friday. I'm on vacation now. My job here is only to advise, and I'm going to do that as little as possible. You're going to decide what to do, and if it's safe and legal and possible to do with the starting capital we have, I'll go along with it and help in any way I can. This is your meeting."

Mr. McCormack had told me, and in some detail, about the youngsters I'd be dealing with. The three who were sitting to my left were the ones who had proposed the group in the first place... Continue reading book >>

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