My money making schemes of selling bottles to the bootlegger or collecting scrap iron in the late forties were pitiful compared to the grand ideas Hugh Louis concocted with our second cousin Paul Abell Barry. Paul Abell lived in a large house close to Dr. Mudd’s office on Main Street in New Haven.
Hugh Louis and Paul Abell thought big in those days. Selling lemonade at a stand on the sidewalk soon gave way to greater plans. They bought a hand cranked movie projector from a mail order place along with a few ten minute short takes. Then they cleared all the junk and debris out of our coal house and set the whole thing up there in the dark with the idea of charging admission to other kids to come and see a movie. I don’t remember many kids actually showing up although there was little competition then since TV was still in the future. Hugh Louis found that there was much more interest when he ran the films backward so we saw swimmers undiving off the board and race cars screeching in reverse around the track.
Fortunately for their moneymaking ideas, the coal house was usually empty. It was so empty in
fact, that I frequently had to dig lumps from the black earthen floor to fill up the coal bucket. That bucket usually had a “busted out” bottom so I had to wedge a large lump at the bottom to hold the smaller ones on top. Our house was warmed by several coal burning stoves that had to be fed often and emptied as often. Hauling in the coal, shoveling ashes from the stove and emptying them out back was one of the chores we all argued with each other about as to whose turn it wasn’t.
Anyway, another Abell/Shoemaker scheme was to create a horror house using the coal house.
The patronage was slim for this too maybe because the ambiance was a bit less than optimal; it
was a coal house after all. Paul Abell didn’t play sports and I don’t recall him being in on any of the wars. He was something of a technical wonk before the term was invented and his genius was a factor in the planning of the money-making enterprises. We called him “Egghead” behind his back. As time went on, Hugh Louis and I got involved in basketball and ham radio and Paul Abell moved on to other things.
I saw Paul Abell a few years ago in Louisville at John Howard’s funeral. He looked a lot the same
even with the passage of many decades.