This whole story began back in the month of December of 1958, in the small hamlet of Veradale, Washington.
Eastern Washington has a history of producing some pretty cold weather as the wind blows down with fury from the northern plains of Canada. From December to February or March, with the old outside thermometer hitting down into the teens and below, makes for a lot of snow and ice in Veradale. It was also an excellent time for a couple of buddies to pick up some easy money shoveling snow. No, I’m not talking about shoveling the old fashioned way, I’m talking about sitting in a nice warm ¾ ton Chevy pick-up with chains on all four corners, bags of sand in the back for a little extra traction and a fresh new fancy snow plow up front. This was a state-of-the-art snow plow complete with power hydraulics to lift the plow up at the end of the run. We talked Larry Schmedding’s dad into letting us operate this fine piece of engineering to help our fellow merchants in the area get rid of some of that snow that was piling up outside like there was not going to be any tomorrow, if we didn’t get out there and help out.
We filled our new ride up to the brim with petrol, checked the hydraulic fluid and were off to make some extra bucks. Our first stop was at the K-Mart next to the gas station where Larry and I worked part time. “Yes,” was the answer from the assistant manager—he’d pay us $25 to get that snow out of the parking lot and he was thankful we came along when we did, as he was out there freezing his you-know-what off, trying to just get the snow away from the big doors up front. Next we hit the Albertson’s grocery store with another big yes, then on to the post office with another positive yes, and on to the drugstore “for sure yes do it.” We had made a $100 and we hadn’t even started to shovel any snow yet. This was going to be a fantastic pay day!
With my share of the bucks I could already see a brand new set of white wall tires on the old model ”T” and maybe a new starter that would help me get her running. I had been pushing it to get her started for the last six months and this was getting a little old, not to mention a little awkward when I had to ask one of my dates if she could help out with the push start exercise.
We continued to sell our new snow removal business for the next hour and picked up an additional four parking lots. Wow! We were now at a cool $100 each and we hadn’t even applied for a business license yet. We were so busy selling that we hadn’t checked the amount of snow that was piling up. She was probably around 12” when we started our new venture and was hitting 30” now. Maybe it’s time we got to using that super, duper, power hydraulic snow plow.
One foot of snow plowing removal was a sure thing, but two and a half feet was a different story. We had to remove the snow in layers, and that meant it was going to take twice as long at each location than we had planned. This might be an all-night snow removal party we are attending. As the night moved on and we continued to move from lot to lot removing the amounts of snow that had fallen up to that time.
We were making some headway but I swear it was coming down faster than we could shovel it. We used up a full tank and 1/2 of gas and 10 hours later we finally finished the final parking lot at the US Post Office. We got them all done and even went back and shoveled a little more at the K-Mart to make it look like a fresh job had just been done.
We made it home with Mr. Schmedding’s truck just in time for him to hop in and head to work. Larry and I grabbed a bowl of Wheaties and were off on our way to school. Not sure about Larry, but I got a quick nap in during P.E. hiding in the john. That afternoon we made it by four of the snow removal jobs and collected our bucks due. The K-Mart manager fizzled out on us as he hadn’t approved any snow removal activity, but he sure thanked us for our civic contribution. The remaining three was a nightmare to behold. Around twelve o’clock that night a Chinook wind coming up from down south brought some high warm wind into the whole area. The temperature shot up and all the fresh fallen snow melted like it had never been there at all, except the piles that we had so nicely placed at the ends of each row and by the light poles. You guessed it, two of the three would pay us our $25, but they wanted those big piles removed as they were taking up parking spaces they needed for their Christmas shoppers. Well the only way that was going to happen was by hand with snow shovels and we really earned our money on those two. The United States Post Office paid us by check. I think we received it by mail about six months later.
All in all our snow removal business turned out to be a moderately profitable little venture. I of course listed the income I made from this experience as unearned income on my next year’s tax return. I’m not sure how Larry handled his side of the profit, but it might be interesting to note that he is just one of the successful millionaires I’ve known to come out of that Spokane Valley from that time period. Who knows, maybe there is money to be made in snow removal, however, it still sounds like a snow job to me.