To some Julie Murphy is a freedom fighter, to others a symbol of lawlessness. To Maria Fife, she's a 7 year-old with a lot of whims. Selling lemonade happened to be one them. "She's over it now," says Fife, Julie's mom, who spoke with Yahoo! Shine Tuesday. What do you do when you're daughter becomes the center of a heated national discourse? Stop making lemonade.
It's been about a month since the whole thing started. "It was actually my first day of orientation as a nurse, and after work I told Julie she could set up a lemonade stand," the soft-spoken Fife remembers. They ventured into the city, away from their quiet suburban Oregon neighborhood and set up shop at a craft fair in Portland.
"We just happened to set the stand up next to a group of anarchists and that's why we got attention. "
The attention came, and keeps coming, when local health inspectors asked the mother-daughter team to shut down their venture or face a $500 fine. Like 99 percent of all lemonade-selling kids, they didn't have a $120 vendor license. As Fife packed up, Michael Franklin, one of the anarchists she describes and a local radio show personality rallied around them. Soon Fife was venting about the health inspectors' misguided rules. "According to their rules, anyone under 15 can't sell lemonade, even with a permit," Fife said softly.
Then the county chairman issued an apology to Julie and Fife.
After that, mom and daughter were ready to move on. But nobody else was. A polarizing political storm brewed, and Julie's stand was at the center of it. Were we bogged down by buerocracy? Was big government to blame? Or was Julie just another example of people dodging rules in place for a reason?
An upcoming Portland demonstration, called "Lemonade Revolt", will be a hotbed for both sides of the spectrum.
"I have mixed feelings about it all," she says of the protest. "I agree with why they want to hold it, but I'm nervous about our safety, so my daughter and I aren't going to go. We had our moment already with the second lemonade stand."
That'd be the one, set up by a local radio station, where locals from the area gathered to support Julie, sample her lemonade and offer up her requested 50 cents per cup. Only, it was more like $200 a cup. "A lot of local businesses and neighbors came with checkbooks. Even a local photographer offered us a free photo session. It was incredible and so moving."Especially for Julie. " My daughter has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and people heard about her condition. She's going to Camp J.A.M, for other kids with similar issues this summer and a few of her future camp-mates came to the stand to meet her. For so long she's been the only person she knows who has to get injections every week. It's great for her to meet others going through similar struggles to know she's not alone."
By the end of the day, Julie had earned almost $2000 in donations, enough to take her mom on a trip to Disneyland at the end of August. "She'd been asking to go for so long. With me being in nursing school for longest time and her diagnosis she gets told 'no' a lot. This was a chance for her to hear the word 'yes' for once."
As donations continues to pour in through newspapers and radio stations, Maria is hoping to funnel much of money to a local Shriner's hospital. "Julie was a Shriner's baby so she's happy about giving back."
But, after the month she's had, Fife's quick to curb more criticism. "I'll be paying taxes on all the donations," she states firmly. As a newfound political prop, she rejects the idea of going the way of Joe the plumber, come election time. "If I was asked to speak at a rally? I guess it would depend on the candidate but I probably wouldn't want to represent anyone. I don't have a political agenda and never did. I just think we don't have to be so extreme and so divided," she says.
What about 7 year-old Julie's social policy? "She just wants people to get along and doesn't understand why things have to be so hard." No one can argue with that.
[photo: thinkstock images]