From the Relief Society Magazine, June 1946 –
The Bennetts’ Bookkeeping System
By Alice Whitson Norton
The Bennetts were newcomers in the little country town of Martin. Mr. Bennett had come from some northern town to take charge of the bookkeeping department in Lloyd Brannon’s grocery. At the end of a two months’ trial, both parties were very much pleased with each other, so Mr. Bennett’s family moved in.
Such a nice family they were, too – such an addition to the town. They didn’t wait to be invited to the Church services, but the first Sunday of their sojourn in Martin found the family uniting with the Church; and during the week that followed, the girls, two in number, joined the Mutual Improvement Association and asked for cards of admission to the library.
The boy, whose name was Bob, in less than ten days had proved himself a star on the Martin baseball diamond, and was looked upon as a very desirable addition to the Boy Scouts.
Of course, there were some who predicted the Bennetts’ splendid beginning wouldn’t last, but, as time passed, the skeptical were convinced that the Bennetts hadn’t started anything more than was their usual mode of living.
“Those Bennetts are a strange lot,” Fred Stone admitted to his sister Lucy one day after a practice game of ball. “One never knows what to expect of them.”
“What have they done now?” Lucy queried.
“I don’t guess it would amount to anything much,” Fred replied, “but you know the ball park is just back of their house, and this morning, somehow, the boys seemed all out of sorts. Nobody felt inclined to play. Bob went to the house and came back with a new bat. Of course, we thought that was what he went for, but in a short time here came his sisters with a big pitcher of lemonade and a plate of cakes, and then we knew that he had only brought the bat for an excuse.”
“I think that was fine,” Lucy answered.
“Certainly, it was fine, but I never knew my sisters to fix any refreshments for my guests even when they knew that company was coming.”
“You never asked me to,” Lucy returned crossly.
“I know I never did,” Fred answered, “and I never so much as thought about it.”
“There is something unusual about those Bennetts,” Lucy said, more to herself than to her companion, “and I’m going to find out what it is that makes them so considerate of each other.”
“Leave it to a girl to find out things,” Fred chuckled. “But how they live so well on a mere bookkeeper’s salary is beyond me.”
The next morning, Fred was sent to the country to look up a little business affair for his father, and Lucy went over for a week-end visit with the Bennetts.
The following Tuesday found them both at home again.
“Did you find out what you went for?” Lucy asked, when Fred came in.
“Certainly I did,” the boy answered. “Did you?”
“Yes,” Lucy responded softly. “I found out the whole Bennett family are bookkeepers.”
“You don’t mean it!” Fred exclaimed in astonishment.
“Yes, I do,” Lucy answered, “and they’ve got a wonderful system. Mary explained it all to me. To begin with, at the first of each year, the father presents each member of the family with a little blank book. He makes a request that, in these books, each one keep a record of what he or she does toward making people happy, and what they receive from other people that gives them happiness. Then, there’s a column for kind words, a column for angry spells, a column for selfish acts, a column for generosity, a column for real money – how much, and what it goes for. At the end of the year Mr. Bennett balances the books according to his method of justice, and to the one whose book averages the greatest per cent of right living, a gold medal is presented.”
For a moment the sister and brother stood looking at each other in silence, then a smile spread over Fred’s ruddy face.
“I call that a pretty good system, Sis, for keeping tab on ourselves, don’t you?”
“I certainly do,” Lucy answered, “and I mean to take up the Bennetts’ system of bookkeeping for my own personal benefit right away.”
“Get two books, Sis,” Fred called from the door a few moments later. “I’ll start with you.”