By John Burton
ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Being called an “old bat” would make most people take offense, but for 11-year-old Sarah Milne and her grandmother, it served as inspiration.
Sarah used a recent confrontation when her grandmother was called an old bat to design and sell car magnets with a drawing of – what else? – a cartoon-styled elderly bat holding a cane, proclaiming herself a “Proud Old Bat.”
With the help of family members, including grandmother Pat Walter, who lives in Middletown, and Sarah’s mother Michele Walter, Sarah designed the magnet, is marketing it and has been selling her creation.
The novelty item is designed to be given for birthdays and other milestones, Michele Walter said. So far, they have sold to people giving them to college pals, office co-workers, parents and significant others, “instead of the proverbial over-the-hill,” greeting card or coffee mug.
Michele Walter said Sarah has sold about 40 of the items.
The novelty magnet was inspired when Pat Walter was driving to a family party not too long ago. When she slowed to allow an ambulance to pass her, another driver – a young man angered by her move – yelled from his car, “you old bat” as he sped away.
“When she got to the party she told us all,” Sarah remembered.
“I thought it was kind of amusing,” Pat Walter said.
Whenever she reaches a milestone, such as becoming eligible to collect from Social Security, Sarah now calls her 65-year-old grandmother “an old bat.”
Sarah and her family have established a Facebook page and website for her Proud Old Bat creation, and she had just received notification of her copyright, according to her mother.
“I think she’s learning how to run a business,” Michele Walter said of her daughter’s enterprise.
“I think it’s kind of cool,” Sarah observed, especially as her effort has begun to attract some attention.
Sarah acknowledged some of her friends and classmates are a little bemused by her efforts. “My friends think it’s kind of funny,” she observed. “I don’t think kids my age are interested in running a business.”
Her principal at St. James Elementary School in Red Bank bought one. “He said he would stick it on his wife’s car when she’s not looking,” Sarah explained with a giggle.
Sarah said she likes to draw and maybe would like to follow this up with the image on clothing items.
“She wants to expand on the idea,” Michele Walter said.
“She keeps talking to people about it, trying to pick their brains to find out what’s next,” Pat Walter said.
And that has Pat happy. “This proud old bat is proud of her granddaughter,” she said with a broad smile.