Not everyone on the Gulf Coast of Florida is bemoaning the dastardly effects of tar balls washing up on their pristine white-sand beaches. Harold “Happy” Toner and his wife Sunny Toner are turning those tar balls into dollar bills.
“Oh, we’re hippies from way back,” said Happy. We’ve been scrapping a life offa these beaches since we came down here in ’69, after the summer of love came to a halt. Started making coffee tables and wall clocks outta the driftwood we could scrounge along the beaches. Sunny strung together shells and made jewelry. We made a decent living, enough to buy a little VW Caravan that we’ve been living out of for nigh on 40 years now.”
Yeah,” said Sunny, “we ain’t always had it easy, but we had it our way. We were always looking for that one thing that would finally make us rich, and that’s when those tar balls started showing up. I took my usual walk down the beach one morning and saw black lumps all over the place.”
The Toners don’t own a television and they rarely read a newspaper, so when the tar balls started showing up on the beach, they didn’t know why. Sunny says she picked a few up that had sand on the bottom and “right then and there, I started yelling ‘Eureka!’ I bought them back to the caravan and added some extra sand to a bowl, put the tar in and shaped them into the shape of Florida, stuck a wick in them and damned if they didn’t burn for hours longer than regular candles,” said Sunny.
Happy and Sunny can’t make enough of the candles. People are buying them like hotcakes. “Come hurricane season, these little tar ball candles are gonna come in mighty handy,” said Happy. “Kinda ironic isn’t it? Folks don’t want the hurricanes to come cause they’ll whip that oil right onto the shore, but these here tar ball candles will keep them from bumping around in the dark after the electricity goes off. I’d say God might just have a little hand in all this yet,” he said smiling. “And, we may just make enough money to get the brakes fixed on the Caravan.”