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181008 October 8, 2018


 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
by Collins (CE) Wynn
LHS '64

(Editor's Note: This is a look back at a story published in The Traveller on November 17,2003)
    Some months ago Tommy wrote an article about his job as a Soda Jerk and asked for responses from classmates about their grade school jobs. Many responded and we had a series of interesting articles. I submitted a piece about Terry’s Pizza and intended to follow it up with an article about some other less memorable boyhood work experiences. Somehow I let myself get diverted and lost focus on the subject but I’m back now. I think most of you can relate to these stories because we were all bouncing around most of the time trying to pick up a little loose change for pocket money. 
    Like most of my male friends I started my working career pushing a lawnmower either at home or around in the neighborhood usually picking up $.50 or $1 and slowly graduated to fixed pay jobs. Because my Dad was a Police Officer he moved around all over Huntsville and knew a lot of people. Consequently he was always coming home with a new job for me. He got me started on my first 3 jobs and I found the ones at Gibson’s Bar-B-Q and Terry’s Pizza on my own. The worst jobs I ever had were my first two and I learned from them right away that I wanted nothing to do with the restaurant/kitchen business no matter how much money was involved. 
    The restaurant was at the corner of Governor’s Drive and the Parkway and was a Huntsville staple although, for the life of me I cannot recall the name even through I can still see the sign in my mind’s eye. It was on the order of an old style Shoney’s and lasted, I think, until the Parkway was widened some years ago. I don’t recall the salary but you can bet it wasn’t much – didn’t matter anyway because I lasted one day. Washing dishes for 9 hours straight in the hot and grimy rear room of a restaurant kitchen was no fun whatever. I did not return after that first day and moved on to the next adventure. I was about 14 at the time. I seem to remember that a kid had to be 14 to hold a real job.
    Not yet completely disenchanted with the restaurant kitchen business I moved on to general flunky employment at George’s Restaurant on Wellman Avenue between Russell Street and Jackson Way in Five Points and the Rebel Inn in West Huntsville at the corner of Triana Boulevard and 9th Avenue. Most of the time I was in Five Points but from time to time I was "loaned labor" to the Rebel Inn. My salary was $.33 hour and I was assigned various duties including washing dishes but at least I didn’t wash dishes all the time. Which leads me to the story of how some unknown soul unwittingly ate my finger in the summer of 1961. It had been a long day and my last chore was to peel a bag of potatoes for the evening shift after which I was free to go. I was sitting on a crate in the back of the kitchen with the bag of potatoes on the floor by my left leg with a big steel bowl between my knees where the cleaned potatoes were placed. I’m sure ya’ll have all seen the double-edged potato peeler gadget that has a single handle on it. To use it I held the potato in my left hand and swept the peeler swiftly back and forth slowly rotating the potato as the peel was sliced off. Well, in my haste to be gone, I managed to slice off a sizable portion of my left index finger and watched as it fell smack into the almost full bowl of freshly peeled potatoes. Now my dilemma became what to do – if I told the owner he would throw it all out and I would have to start over and be another hour or more getting out of there. Or, I could say nothing, bandage up my finger, and high tail it home leaving a piece of me to be served up for dinner that night. Of course I chose to say nothing and have chuckled about it for 45 years. I can’t forget the incident because I have a prominent scar I see every time I look at my left hand. 
    From that I tried to find something a little less structured and got myself a paper route. Although I always had just enough money to pay for my papers I never did have much of a profit but I always had fun. It truly was a good experience. My route was all of Halsey Avenue in Dallas and it ran west on Halsey from Windham Street to Dallas Street then south for two blocks to Stephens Avenue. Tommy might have to help me with some of this since he lived on Halsey for a while. During the year or so I kept the route I met some interesting people. On the southeast corner of Halsey and England Street lived two elderly spinsters who, I think, were retired sister schoolteachers. Their wooden house was covered with fake brick asphalt shingles and tarpaper. They were both very kind to me and I was always careful to make sure their paper was up on the porch where it would stay dry. When I would go by to collect on Saturday morning they would often make me come in and sit with them before I could get paid. Their house was clean but musty and always seemed to have a fire blazing in the pot bellied coal stove in the living room regardless of the time of the year. They each wore massive type ladies shoes with their hose rolled down to below their knees. Across the street lived the "Tattooed Man" – I don’t mean one or two – since he often wore no shirt you could see he was covered with them from the neck down. Years later Rod Steiger’s character in the Ray Bradbury movie "Something Wicked This Way Comes" reminded me of him. And, to top it all, I was in love with a red headed girl that lived at the start of my route on Windham Street. Although I never met her nor ever knew her name I was convinced I was in love with her.
    After my entrepreneurial career as a newspaperman floundered I went back to the security of a fixed income as a Bag Boy at a grocery in Parkway City (similar to my later-in-life experience in the construction business) and lasted there for a few weeks. Actually the job was good – bagging groceries and carrying them out to cars for eople. It suited my personality because I was able to move around and meet people. I think this is one of the places I learned that I enjoyed being helpful and useful. I didn’t stay there too long because the store was just too far from home and getting rides proved too difficult (pre-driving days). I believe the store was a Kroger’s but I’m not absolutely certain.
    Shortly thereafter I worked at Albert Hall’s 66 Service Station on the corner of Oakwood and Jackson Way off and on for a while to pick up a few bucks. The job was pumping gas with a few general clean up chores. Although I didn’t work there long or much, I learned one of life’s really hard lessons standing next to a gas pump late one afternoon. I had just filled up a car with gas and told the lady driving "that’ll be $3.48" or some such. She smiled sweetly at me and said "put it on Buck’s ticket", then cranked the car and drove off. I went enthusiastically bouncing into the office and announced to all present "somebody needs to put $3.48 on Bucks ticket" to which Albert loudly replied "Hell, boy, I don’t hold tickets. You’ve just been had and you owe me $3.48". In that instant I learned to regard smiling faces with considerable suspicion.
    After getting my driver’s license I expanded my horizons by going to work as a Carhop at Gibson’s Bar-B-Q, on the west side of North Parkway between University Drive and Oakwood Avenue. This was another one of those good experiences mostly because everyone there treated me as a part of the team rather than just some kid working part time. I really liked it. My first paycheck was $21.00 (a $.50 hour job): it was the most money I had ever had at one time. I asked the cashier to pay me in $1 bills so it would seem like more. The job consisted of taking orders from people sitting in cars, then putting the orders together and bringing it back to them. Gibson’s used a system where the Carhops (all male, by the way) carried the outgoing orders by the cashier where they paid for the orders then delivered the food to the cars and collected their money back plus whatever tip they could wheedle out of the customer. This procedure meant that if a customer drove off without paying, the loss went to the Carhop not to the restaurant. Consequently all of us paid close attention to our business and "drive-off’s" were rare. Also, this is the first time I ever saw a microwave oven; Gibson’s had one and they used it to heat up slices of pie. The menu was pretty standard Bar-B-Q fare – beef and pork sandwiches and plates, etc. However, they had a specialty byproduct called "Skins". "Skins" were big brown greasy paper bags filled to overflowing with the fat and skin left when chopping up the meat. "Skins" were sold only out the back door and never in the dining room or the curb service area. Customers drove up to the back door and called out how many bags they wanted. Gibson’s wasted nothing. If there were no customers the Carhops were pretty much on our own and spent considerable time sitting around on crates out on the curb telling old lies and inventing new ones. One cold, cold winter night in late 1962 around 8 or 9 PM (an hour or so before closing) Goose (Jim) Shelton pulled up to the curb in the Blue Goose with Mike Smith riding shotgun. They had come by to rag me about having to work while they were out riding around goofing off. Also they needed a spoon. Why a spoon, you ask? It seems Mike had obtained a six-pack of beer and stashed it outdoors in some bushes where it had frozen solid. After I got them a couple of spoons they sat there in the car and ate a six-pack of frozen beer.
    Simple times, weren’t they?

        Memphis, TN - This week we take a look back at an earlier story from long ago. Many new readers have joined our group after this was published, and even the old time readers should enjoy this reflection into the past.

The Next Lee Lunch Bunch
Date Set

Thursday, October, 25, 2018
11:00 A.M.
Galen’s Restaurant
Andrew Jackson Way   Huntsville, AL

    Hello fellow LHS classmates from the classes of ’64, ’65, ’66.

    Remember to save the date for our next Lee Lunch Bunch gathering. I have had many positive comments to come my way about us meeting at Galen’s, so until someone comes up with a better place for us, I guess we will meet there for now. It does not cost for us to meet there, the food is good, and they are so very nice to us. Jaime, the owner’s daughter, already had us on the calendar from when we were there in April. She remembered that we meet twice a year on the last Thursday of April and October, so she went ahead and put us down for this October. How great is that? 

    I know that September and October are both great months to travel, so if you are out on the road, please make Huntsville one of your stops long enough to join your fellow classmates for lunch on the last Thursday of October at Galen’s. Hope to see you there.

    Please, please let me know if you plan to come. I need to let them know by the day before how many we expect to come for lunch.

    Thanks and see you soon,
    Patsy Hughes Oldroyd ‘65              Or message me or Judy
H (256) 232-7583                         Fedrowisch Kincaid on 
C (256) 431-3396                          Facebook


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Military Service and Wives

Dianne Hughey McClure

LHS '64

    Thanks for sharing your first years and your military years after Lee and thank you for your service. I was living the life of a military wife. We were so young but it was good life. Sure does not seem like it could have been that many years. 




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