I scrimped and saved, robbed Peter to pay Paul, received help from my parents, and did creative entrepreneurial activities to get through college. The objective was to graduate debt free. Many people did traditional activities to get through school such as earn scholarships, work and receive help from parents, but some of my entrepreneurial activities were unique. One of my many revenue-generating schemes was to buy old cars from students for cheap, as they were usually not too well taken care of. I tried to always buy for less than $ 100 with a target of $50. Then I'd wax them, shine them up, go to the junkyard and pick up missing chrome and parts, and usually sell them for more than double what I had into them. Another scheme was to identify students who, like me, did not type (remember, this internet thinng with keyboarding is a comparatively recent phenomenon). When term papers were due and typing was required, I would put out the word that I could have papers typed for a good price (the going rate at the time was between 5 cents and 15 cents per page). I’d get 12 cents per page from my dorm brothers then shop the young married girls until I found one who would type for between 6 and 8 cents, leavinig me with several cents per page profit. I was always on the lookout for clever ways to help pay for my education.
One evening instead of studying I was watching the TV western, Wagon Train. As I watched it and imagined myself as the wagon master I began to hatch an idea. Wagon trains were created so people could travel together safely across the vast expanse of the U.S. It was a little over 2,000 miles from Utah to the east coast. I wondered if there was still a need for such safety and companionship so I went to each girl's dorm and put a 3X5 card announcement on the bulletin board that read something like this: "Driving home for Christmas Break? Live in the East? Concerned about possible breakdowns and safety, flat tires or other road hazards? Come to a meeting in the dorm center on xxx day at 7:00."
Now before you start to wonder about my sanity, since my auto mechanic skills ranged somewhere between nil and zero, my logic was this; most girls attending BYU who lived in the east had nice new cars that Daddy bought them to drive to school. The cars were not only new but well maintained so the risk of breakdown would be minimal. When the group arrived for my meeting I handed out blank 3x5 cards then gave them the following spiel: “I'll take a group of up to 10 cars back east in a caravan. I'll ride in the last car in the caravan and will be responsible to repair any problems that occur along the way in any of the cars. I will also chart rest stops, food stops, and suggest motels along the way since the drive will take four days. If somebody needed to stop to use the rest room or for any other purpose, she was to move to the front of the caravan and pull over. Ther rest would pull over as well. The lead car was to travel no more than five miles per hour over the speed limit. We would travel along a specific route so if one lives anywhere between Chicago and New Jersey, they could travel safely with me as their guardian.” I had gotten a AAA “Triptic” which charted he route down to the last 1/10 of a mile and listed all restaurants, service stations, motels and truck stops along the route. We would all stop at the same places for gas, food, lodging, and rest stops. Each driver could take two additional riders for no additional charge. The cost of this "insurance" would be $35 per car paid to me in advance. Anybody who was interested was directed to write their name, phone number, year and model of car, and destination on the card and leave it with me. I'd then plan the route and call those who I’d agree to take in my caravan. I figured (correctly) that there would be no mechanical problems with the new cars and the worst that would happen would be to change a tire – which I never encountered with any of the cars.
The results were overwhelming. I had probably 20-30 sign up and submit request cards. I charted a route that would stop at each house and end up in Pittsburgh. I chose students 10 that followed the route I had charted. We reversed the route to return after the holidays. I got a free ride and made $350 which was enough to pay for room and board or more than enough for tuition and books for both semesters.
I became a little more creative at the end of the school year. In those days there were car delivery services. Cars in the 1950s and 1960s were usually new and big, like our Packard. Many people were snowbirds who wintered in the sunny climes of the Southwest but lived in the northeast. They would fly to their destination and have their car driven to their location. The Delivery Service Broker would place ads in the newspaper seeking drivers. They would pay the gas and pay the driver a nominal fee, including lodging. The driver had about a week to get the car to its destination which would allow a few days for sight seeing ot taking a lazy drive.
With this scheme I would arrange to drive two cars from Salt Lake City to the Pittsburgh area. Then I'd post a card on the "ride board" at BYU offering a ride to points east for $25 per person, a huge savings over other modes of transport. I'd let one person drive the second car for with no charge and I'd pack 5 passengers into each car and get home for free plus earn a little spending money for the next school year.
With help from my parents, working in the campus library, and my entrepreneurial schemes, I was able to complete my college degree debt free. But wait! There's more! See memoires 20.