MY FIRST JOB                                                      FEBRUARY 20, 2012

          During my softball career back in the late 1930’s, I was with the Orange Lionettes, based in the City ofOrangein theCountyofOrange, in  the State ofCalifornia. (Remember, I’m anOrangeCountykind-of-gal, through and through.) The team was sponsored by the Lions Club whose members were local business men.  One was a Doctor who had to take me to his office after the game to dig the little rocks embedded — O-O-O-W — in my left upper thigh when I had slid in home to win the ball game. Then there was Ray who was the Sports writer for the Orange Gazette who would give me his 2 tickets in the journalist’s section at the Coliseum for UCLA football home games — he must’ve been a USC fan.  Then there was Elwood and his wife, Vera, who gave the pitcher and me a job for the summer in their Laundry and Dry Cleaning business.

          I regress a moment to say that during the previous summer, several of these sponsors sent Terry and me to the Santa Ana Business School where we were introduced to basic accounting, secretarial procedures, some typing, all the stuff going on in an office, a bank, or even a bar. We also learned how to write checks and keep track of them, and balance the check register.  I loved this schooling,  however I don’t think Terry paid too much attention.  All she did was sit there and twirl a pencil, and get me to give her all the answers.

           To continue, Elwood and Vera were a wonderful, hard-working couple who had built their business from out of nothing — Very dedicated to squirreling away for their future retirement. Vera was like the permanent chaperone for the team, and Elwood was the guy to turn to if you needed a helping hand.

          Since Terry was fromWest LA, Vera had her stay with them through the summer so she could take the job.  They had a huge apartment right in the center ofOrangewhere the circle is — the hub of the City. They put up many of the ballplayers throughout the years. So Terry was set for a place to stay, and I was still over inFullerton, and had a little 1932 Ford Model B Coupe with a nice tan paint job and red spoke wheels, so I had my transportation, courtesy of Aunt Mae, of course.

          First day, there we were, all excited about our jobs to make an “honest buck,” and we were given our assignments:  Terry was placed at the back of the laundry, at the alley entrance, in Receiving where the bundles of dirty clothing and linens came in and had to be sorted and marked.  Terry was a free spirit which probably explains the fact the Business School curriculum had not penetrated her psyche too much, and would be relegated to jobs using her strength of the body, but not the mind.  Remember me telling the story  about our little group of softball players that I organized to contribute to the World War II effort, and we went off in 1946 to Douglas Aircraft where we were snapped up to work in a flash? — and Terry was given a riveter job — while I, because of the attention I paid in the Business School was given a cushy, easy job as a Departmental Clerk, and because they thought I could type 80 words per minute. (I guess I fooled them!) Or maybe they just hoped I could type 10 WPM to fill in a few forms now and then.

          It turned out my “position” at the Laundry and Dry Cleaning establishment was up front on the street side in the office assisting Vera. Our duties there were receiving bundles from individual customers, or passing their cleaned items back to them and taking their money. I had learned at theBusinessSchoolabout making change in a business-like manner. We also had to make up the statements for the credit customers such as motels, restaurants, etc.  so we had a typewriter for that, and we had a cash drawer. Learning about the cash drawer helped me in my later endeavors owning bars and a liquor store. 

          Elwood took care of the back end of the business.  He had a panel truck to pick up and deliver the soiled or clean linens to the various motels or restaurants, so Terry learned that end of the business from shorts to sheets.

          We toiled away all that summer from 8 am to 4 pm, usually, Monday through Friday — with Terry in the soiled department, and I up front in the office behind the counter, making change, typing a few statements, dilly-dallying, and shooting the breeze with the walk-in customers — usually going over the last game we had played.  Almost everyone inOrangewent to our games one time or another.  Of course we had the fans that never missed a game.  We were famous World Champions, and in the newspapers fromFresnotoDetroit,PhoenixtoPortland, and throw inSan Antonio— all over theU.S.  However, I don’t think they ran anything in theMainepapers.

          I was so proud on the first payday when Elwood handed me my first check — Vera was the business end and had made it out.  I looked in awe to read the amount:  $13.76.  It was like a million bucks to me just thinking about having worked for it — a whole 5 days!  I would cash my check each week, get into my car, drive home, and the first thing I did when I arrived home was to hand my Mother a 5 dollar bill.  I know it pleased her because then she would have a little more “pin money”  to use when the Jewel Tea salesman showed up and she could buy more pots, or dishes, or hair brushes from him and which she paid him 25¢ a week on account till paid for. (See my blog for June 20, 2011 titled “Pots and Pans & Other Stuff.”)

          The balance left was spent filling my gas tank with gas at about 18¢ per gallon, then I had plenty of cash ($8.76) left over to see a movie, or go to a drive-in, or I might go see Aunt Mae for the weekend — saved $$ going there because there was plenty of good food, and I could fill my gas tank from the ranch gas tank.  Or I would just enjoy my Saturday and Sunday tooling around visiting friends and relatives.  Or maybe there was a game to be played.

          Whatever— After all, I had to have some R & R on my days off!     What a life!


                                                                           MELITAS FORSTER


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