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Trio has entrepreneurial spirit
Michaela Dunn, Camille Clemmer and Aylah Bristow were busy selling lemonade and iced tea at Fowler and Shushan last week before the triple-digit heat wave hit the area. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Ah, summer.

It conjures up a lot of images that are mostly pleasurable, such as barbecues, swimming and camping. Throw in the county fair and watermelon and, well, you got it. Then there's the dreadful thought of 100-degree days that will stay on us like a plague.

On Thursday - before this infernal blast of heat hit the Valley - I had my phone in hand, looking at Facebook when I saw Brandy Meyer had posted something about her supporting a lemonade stand at Fowler and Shushan. I dashed out to my car and decided to go buy some liquid refreshment and see what this was all about.

I swung the car from Mitchell Road onto Fowler Road and I spied three girls behind a table on the sidewalk on the corner. It was a lemonade stand, alright, just as American as you can get.

The last time I saw a lemonade stand was on that TV commercial for T-Mobile with that annoying girl who adds on taxes and hidden fees as T-Mobile gets across the deceptive practices of some cell phone companies. I don't like that commercial; kind of spoils the positive image a lemonade stand brings to my mind.

The girls saw me pull to the curb, thinking great, another customer. Oh, to be sure I was going to buy but little did they know they were about to be interviewed for a newspaper. It's not every day you see the entrepreneurial spirit at play in young people. Such initiative and courage is rare, these days, when there are a million other things 11- through 14-year-old girls could be doing on a hot June day during school vacation. Things like lounging around a pool or hanging out at the mall or watching TV.

No, I found Aylah Bristow, Camille Clemmer and Michaela Dunn down to the nitty gritty of street vending. Apple and In-N-Out Burger believe in keeping options simple and these girls had it down. Two choices: lemonade or iced tea. At a buck a cup how can you not partake in two blissful summertime beverages? The only thing was missing was Andy Griffith strumming his guitar on the porch in Mayberry.

The girls had been out there since 11 a.m. and it was already 1 p.m. They had an hour to go roasting on the sidewalk - or until their supply ran out.

"We're just saving money for the summer if we want to go on a trip," said Camille. "We're all friends. She's my cousin," she noted, nodding toward Michaela.

Aylah quickly volunteered that some of the money would be donated to fight lung cancer, a disease that took the life of her great-grandmother.

The girls named their impromptu enterprise Micalah's Stand. That's what you get when you take ‘Mi' from Michaela, add it to ‘ca' from Camille and ‘lah' from Aylah. Originality too.

"We do it every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, some weekends," said Camille.

The girls report making about $20 to $30 per day but they hauled in $36 on Wednesday. That's the day they ran out and closed up shop because closing time was looming into view.

All the girls have a hand in making the drinks and taking the operation down the street to the busy corner.

I offered that it was a "pretty cool" thing to see such initiative. This coming from a greying dude who finds plenty of fault with today's generation and their sense of entitlement. I was coaxed farther into my faith in the next generation when I heard "thank you" from one of the girls.

Ice and lemon slices add value to the product. These girls may be amateurs but they know what they're doing. The girls even copied the tip jar you might see at Starbucks.

They kept it simple alright. One dollar. You can't even buy a candy bar for a dollar any more.

The girls piped up that they even have given free cups to homeless persons riding by on bikes who are dripping beads of summer sweat from their brow. Starbucks doesn't even do that.

In a short while Michaela's grandmother, Darlene Cole - er, the quality control manager - rolls up to the curb in a mini-van to check on the girls. She notes that somebody told her that the girls had to get a business license from City Hall. The T-Mobile commercial just ran through my head. Darlene complimented me on being a faithful column reader of mine "forever." "I follow you - you're about the only one." Thanks, Darlene, I forgot to say thank you like your girls did.

The ego inflated quickly before it deflated as fast as a B-B striking a birthday balloon when mentioning "editing problems with the paper." I've never met Darlene and can tell she is a tell-it-the-way-it-is person.

We're rushed, I offered.

Honestly, a two-man editorial staff in America is rare these days. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. She stuck to her praise of loving my column.

"Grandma made the iced tea this morning because you guys didn't make it good yesterday," Cole said, half speaking to me through the window of the car and half speaking to the girls on the sidewalk.

It seems the girls made the lemonade with only Country Time powder. Darlene insisted on adding fresh lemons for quality assurance purposes.

"They'll learn and maybe they'll do fresh lemonade tomorrow."

That is, if they don't get shut down for a lack of a permit.

I haven't been back to check on them since Thursday, but I surely hope they're not shut down by City Hall. But I have a feeling that 109-degrees might cause them to go on a hiatus.

I added a dollar as a tip and took my I took my cup of iced tea, grateful that it's summer and took off. If you see the girls on the corner, buy American. Support youth.

I have a feeling I might see these girls at the top of their class in a few short years.

Oh, and by the way, the tea was pretty great. My only regret is the cup wasn't bigger.