By Norris Chambers  

            I have told you how I placed ads in journals and did typing for twenty-five cents per one thousand words. I decided to carry this business a little further and write themes and essays for students. I was in the ninth grade at this time and I thought I was a pretty good writer. When I look back at some of the things I wrote I can see that I was wrong – my writing wasn’t that good. But I was determined to try the idea. My little ad was something like this: “Have trouble writing your theme or essay – let me do it for you. Only 35 cents per page. Passing grade guaranteed, or your money back.”  I placed the ad in one of many national publications that had a large classified section and waited for results.

            The first week after the ad appeared I got several orders. The subjects were varied and ranged from pets and livestock to highway safety, sports and building bird houses. Most of the specified lengths were one to five pages. A few were requested with a certain number of words. Since I typed the pages and the writing would be copied in the student’s own handwriting it was a little difficult to know just how much to type. I did a little experimenting in rewriting the typed pages and came up with what I considered a workable formula. I enclosed a note telling the customer that since the size of writing varied to use smaller or larger letters in copying to get the required number of pages. I guessed that if the manuscript were a little longer the teacher wouldn’t complain. I continued to get a few orders every week for the remainder of the school term. I had placed two more ads in the magazine and I was well pleased with the results.

            A few days after I started the project I got a letter from a boy asking for the return of his money. He said the teacher told him it “didn’t sound like him and accused him of copying it.” He received an F because of it and was instructed to write another one. This sounded reasonable and I cheerfully returned his fee. I received several letters from satisfied customers. Most of them had made an A or B. A few reported a C or C+ but no one reported a failure except for the one whose theme didn’t sound like him.

            Perhaps the hardest task I received was to write several pages explaining why intangible taxes would be better than tangible taxes for the majority of the population of the United States. I certainly wasn’t a tax expert and I had no idea what he was talking about. I had to call on some of the smartest folks I knew for their ideas on this subject. Some of them didn’t know either. I hit the spot when I talked to our high school civics teacher. I found out that tangible taxes were taxes on property and intangible taxes were taxes on such things as gasoline, cigarettes, movie tickets etc.

            After I discovered what the question was about it was easy enough to find an argument for the intangible taxes. You could pay your taxes that way and you hardly knew you were being taxed. Those with money to buy were supposedly in better financial condition to pay taxes. The poor farmers being taxed for owning the little non-profitable farms certainly didn’t have any money to spend for taxes.

            I didn’t hear any more from the tax question so I presumed that it was convincing enough for the purpose.

            The theme writing project did not make me rich but it supplied a nice little income for a farm boy student. Actually, I made a little more than I made during the fur season. Writing essays was much cleaner and pleasant than skinning ‘possums and skunks.

            When the school term came to an end, so did the orders for my writing. It was evident that it was a seasonal occupation. I thought I might try it again the next year, but I got involved n other things and never got back to the business of helping students cheat.

            I got a letter from some girl or lady for whom I had written a highway safety paper that excited me a little. She said she had entered it in an essay contest and she had won second place and a prize of five dollars. She had made a very nice profit and I made a smaller profit.

            Was this business endeavor a lot of fun? It was! Perhaps you should try something like this; you could charge a lot more now for the service and by using email you could save two cents on postage!