Bucket List Check-off: Return to the Site of my First Million

Bucket lists are a bit morbid, though I have a few things that I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. I did one of them today. I returned to the site of my first million made.

I grew up in a hillside home that overlooked a country club that is as beautiful as any you could find anywhere. Overgrown trees and vegetation have much diminished the view from that location, but when I was a child, it was amazing.

Somewhere around about age nine / 3rd grade I got the idea that I could walk around the extremities of this golf course, find lost golf balls, and sell them back to the goofballs who hit them out of bounds. I would collect them by the hundreds, wash them really clean, display them in egg cartons, and sell the best ones for 50 cents each to golfers on the 18th tee.

My father was rather amazed at this, as there were some weeks in the summer at age 10-12 where I would make more money than he did. There were certain fields and gullies just off the fairways that were particularly good places for ball discovery.

There were a few occupational hazards. The terrain was very rough, there were stickers and brambles everywhere; and since it was a private club, I needed to stay out of sight of the grounds crew. Also, I am sure that my snake paranoia is sourced in this childhood venture. I was fortunate to not be subject to poison ivy problems whatsoever.

It has been about 40 years since the last time I walked the fields and woods around Harkers Hollow country club in Harmony Township, NJ … but I did it today. Some places look exactly the same, whereas others are entirely different. Fields that were my primary “hunting grounds” are now overgrown woods with 80’ trees and dense undergrowth.

Certainly there are no entrepreneurial little boys in the area. Without even trying at all, I soon had about 40 golf balls and could not carry them all. So, being a graduate of Cairn University, I built a cairn of balls in the woods just off the 4th hole – a tribute to one of the fondest memories of my childhood.IMG_1302

It was a great experience, as the area is even prettier than I remember it being as a child, even though the old homestead does not appear to be extraordinarily cared-for … having the appearance of maybe being a day-care house.

Don’t believe the hype that New Jersey is just one big slum or toxic waste site. It simply is not true.

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The picture does not capture how high on a mountainside I am. My house is in the trees to the right and above the clubhouse. The farm and hillside to the upper left of the clubhouse is where my dad grew up – he plowed all those fields with horse-drawn equipment – as did his father and grandfather.

This is somewhat like the view out our front window, though our house would have been 30-40 higher in elevation.

This is somewhat like the view out our front window, though our house would have been 30-40 higher in elevation.

The woods where these deer are standing was an open, high-grass field when I was a kid.

The woods where these deer are standing was an open, high-grass field when I was a kid.

Here is where I made my first million dollars - sitting on a bench at the back of this tee box - under a big maple tree.

Here is where I made my first million dollars – sitting on a bench at the back of this tee box – under a big maple tree.

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2 thoughts on “Bucket List Check-off: Return to the Site of my First Million

  1. No doubt a very special day that you will long remember. Thank you for sharing it. The older I get, the more I reminisce about childhood experiences. One memory is sitting on the front “stoop” of our small house in the late forties after a thunderstorm seeing the raindrops sparkle in the trees and having my earliest time of
    God-awareness–a rainbow.

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