Car Washes and Little Pigs

August 23, 2023


I opened The Baldwin Times and saw photos from a carwash held by the Daphne High School volleyball team. It looked fun — with a giant fire truck even pulling up to be scrubbed. 

There was a time when a high school car wash wouldn’t have grabbed my attention because it was a common Saturday morning activity. High schoolers from the baseball team, band or drama club regularly gathered to wash cars, sell doughnuts, or rake yards. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a good fundraiser powered by teenagers. 

I’m asked to buy coupon cards, which I always forget to use, but it seems the muscle-driven fundraisers are a thing of the past. Could it be that the schools are suddenly flush with cash for pizza parties and matching hair bows? (yes, that’s a thing around here). Are the parents too afraid to allow their children to talk to strange people with dirty cars? 

Or maybe it's because we now have plenty of drive-thru automatic car washes with blinking lights and super-sonic vacuums that suck the tiniest of Whataburger crumbs out of the seats.  

I guess I'm impressed with the work of the Daphne volleyball team because, for the last few years, my husband and I have been receiving letters that say something to the effect of . . . 

"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Tarabella, I want to go on a trip to change the world. Please consider giving me some money."


My husband asks, "Do you want to pull some weeds?"

"No sir, I don't have time." 

"Could you pressure wash our driveway?"

"No sir, it's too hot."

Speaking of hot, the Daphne volleyball team washed cars in the middle of a very real heat wave.

The misery of a 102-degree parking lot isn’t changed much by a couple of water hoses. 

Years ago, my grandfather’s church held a "hire a teen" event so the youth could earn money for summer camp. Adults posted jobs on the bulletin board, and teens scrambled to grab the easiest jobs first. Babysitting cute Sharla Rae with cable TV was a much better gig than push mowing Mr. Clomfelter's 10-acre lawn.

With his big heart, Granddaddy posted a job for someone to clean out his pig stalls. In reality, he raised pigs in his retirement as a hobby and had developed a system that was so clean and efficient that it rarely needed more than a quick hosing down. He would let me hold the baby pigs, and they were cleaner and cuter than a beagle pup. It was such a big deal that Auburn University Agriculture students drove to Hartselle to tour his facility. But the teens at church didn't know this.  

I'm on the left. Now you know why I love "Charlotte's Web" and "Babe."

Sure enough, two teenage boys, humbled themselves and accepted the pig pen cleaning job. Fearing the worst, they arrived at the barn wearing their oldest and grungiest clothes, but instead of handing them a shovel, Granddaddy took them into the house and fed them big bowls of ice cream.

They laughed and talked for several hours. It turned out the boys were from the nearby Boys Home and didn't have fathers, and Granddaddy had only raised daughters, so they enjoyed the manly camaraderie. He sent them on their way later that afternoon with $100 each, which in the 1970s was a considerable amount of money and probably covered most, if not all, of their camp costs. He said, "If they were willing to clean pig stalls, they aren't afraid of hard work. Men like that are hard to find these days." 

The young ladies on the Daphne Volleyball team aren’t afraid of hard work. Washing cars, trucks, jeeps, and fire engines during a heat wave while giving up their Saturday morning and focusing on a unified goal is my kind of team. It doesn't matter that they are the rival of my hometown Fairhope Pirates; I'll have an admiration for these young ladies from Daphne for the rest of the season. I'm sure their hard work will go a long way.  

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