Can’t hound the pimp! I heard a rapper say that to a girlfriend that kept interrupting him while he was doing a radio interview.

I’ve pimped a variety of products growing up as a child: 8 track tapes, toys, candy, gold jewelry, make-up, and designer clothes for girls and women.

I am going to date myself, as in reveal close to exactly how old I am. I remember 8 track tapes. I never understood why they were called 8 track tapes since they were divided into 4 sound chunks. Ah, another topic.

One of the reasons I remember 8 tracks so well is that my family bootlegged them. I didn’t think much about it at the time, because as a child your view of the world is so limited. I mentioned about growing up at the swap meet. I knew a lot of people that bootlegged 8 track tapes. Some genuinely nice people and we looked out for each other.

Every so often federal agents would come to the swap meet. The grownups had a plan. A group of us children would go around and warn others with bootleg tapes to hide them. We did the same to warn the illegals when immigration officials swept the swap meet. What the heck were these grownups teaching us?!

I just remembered something else. We used to sell sodas too, which was against the rules. The swap meet had a snack bar. We’d put our selection of sodas at the edge of the table. I don’t remember having to ask anyone if they wanted to buy a soda. It was unspoken swap meet code, if a seller had a variety of unopened sodas lined up at the end of a table; there were cold ones in an ice box underneath for sale.

Which reminds me of another thing, people walked around with open containers of beer. I don’t know what they laws were at the time, but I remember people, older men mostly, walking around with open containers. I wonder now if people sold beer under the table too. I know some of the older male sellers at the swap meet drank beer all day and never seemed to be drunk. Guess if you nurse 5 or 6 beers over ten hours, tough to get drunk.

Back to the bootleg tapes: I would go during the week after school with my mom and pick up the supplies to make the batch of tapes for that week. The rest of the week, before homework, me and two sisters worked in the garage putting the tapes together. My oldest sister ran the master recording reel-to-reel that was connected to 4 or 5 “slave” reel-to-reels. Next sister would take the new recordings and put them into the 8 track cartridges. My job was to label and box the tapes and hand them back to her to put through the shrink wrap machine. I would then take the packeaged tapes and pack them into larger boxes. We were an efficient operation! 😀

One day men in dark suits came and visited our house. After a brief conversation with my parents they left. A phone call was made. About 30 minutes later men in a van roll up. I recognized these guys from the swap meet. In another 30 minutes or so all tape making materials and supplies are packed and taken away in the van.

I don’t remember when we stopped selling sodas but that happened too, at a much later date. The bootleg tape adventure happened in the middle 70’s. I worked at the swap meet from birth, literally, until I was a sophomore in high school.

An aside but related story, I sold candy at school. I don’t think everyone considers bubble gum candy, but that was my best seller, and didn’t melt in my pockets like chocolate would. Mom was the accomplice here too 😉 She would take me to Smart and Final during the week, and I would purchase with my own money boxes of Blow Pops, Bubble Yum, and other candies requested by my customers. Fill my back pack and off to school I went every day for several months until caught.

I don’t remember any punishment by the school. I was just told not to do it anymore.

Before using a corner of our spot to sell candy I sold clay pots. We had two spots actually, one near the entrance, one near the snack bar. I was usually at the one near the entrance, that’s where I had my table. I found a guy in the back corner selling little clay pots, 15 cents unpainted, 35 cents painted. All the traffic would pass my stand before his, so I bought both unpainted and painted pots. The unpainted I sold for a quarter and the painted ones were 50 cents 🙂 Sold out every day whatever I purchased in the morning.

I made about $5 a day at school, at the swap meet I was making $40 bucks a weekend helping my folks and about $25 with my table of clay pots or treats. For a 12 year old, making $65 a week it had me thinking I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 30 😀

Oh, I was so wrong 🙂 Silly child

We sold a variety of things over a 16 year period. First thing was toys; we would go to downtown L.A. and buy generic toys wholesale. Somewhere along the line we met a woman that knew people that found things that fell off vans. We sold Mattel toys for a number of years. Then in no particular order we sold gold jewelry, make-up, and designer clothes for girls and women.

It did not suck to be an 11-16 year old boy talking to girls and women all day. I also learned a lot about 3 topics that would provide me with exceptional conversational material with girls at school 😀

Oh my goodness. So much more about a wonderful place to grow up. i didn’t appreciate it as much at the time. It never sucked, not to me anyways. Even sitting in the VW van in the rain, waiting for 10am at which point we would earn a credit for having been there, but not being able to sell. Mom always packed coffee and breakfast burritos 😀 and I found sitting in the rain peaceful.

Okay, on the burrito note, that’s a wrap!

Oh, see what I did there! 😀

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