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Mondays with Melitas – June 4, 2012

ANOTHER LAUNDRY IN ANOTHER TIME

JUNE 4, 2012

Several months ago, I wrote about my very first job where I received an actual

paycheck with the deductions for whatever they took out in the late 1930’s. What I

ended up with was $13.76, and you can bet the farm that I was pleased as punch. (No

Tequila in those days.) That job was during my softball career, and was in a laundry

in Orange, CA. The sponsors of the team wanted to keep the pitcher and catcher

(me) in tow so we could win the World’s Championship. I helped Co-Owner Vera in

the office department. Elwood, her husband, took care of the heavy work in the back

checking in the laundry — the pitcher, Lois, helped him mark and sort. Well, she

had never bothered to learn to type, so it was her own doing, or more like no doing.

I think it first dawned on me at this point that if you wanted to be in business

you should definitely be the owner.

Now we will go down through about 25 years, and at this point in time, I am

on my 4th out of 5 saloons I had owned. My Realtor friend, Vic — a real estate guru –

— calls me one day, saying he has a very good deal for Gary, my son: “Susie, (his

nickname for me) you know the place; it’s Art’s Fluff and Fold laundry up on No.

Coast Blvd. This would be just the thing to give Gary something to do, and start

earning some money.” I said, “Gee, Vic, I will have to talk this over with Gary, so call

me back in a few days.” This Fluff and Fold is where the customers bring in their

dirties — clothing and towels and linens – then it was returned to them all nice and

clean in very neatly tied bundles. I talked it over with Gary, and he showed a little

enthusiasm. He had finished high school, and was just wandering around with his

life, mainly honing his skills as a surfer. He was a very good one.

When the Guru, Vic called back, I said, “Well, Vic, maybe you do have a

pretty good idea, and it’s worth the try since Art is asking only $1200 for this little

business. I’ll find Gary, and we’ll come by your office to sign the offer.” The purchase

price included all the equipment: a whole bunch of washers, a whole bunch of

dryers, a couple of huge washers and dryers for BIG stuff. I am saying “a whole

bunch” simply because my memory card for this stuff is missing. I can see it in my

mind’s eye, but just can’t see how many.

The papers were drawn up, and we went to escrow, so while that was going

on, Gary and I went up to the Fluff and Fold several times to be taught how to fold

the sheets, or the clothing, and putting them in neat stacks for the customers to pick

up. If there were shirts in the customers’ clothes, we would hang them on a hanger.

We also took in dry cleaning, which was picked up every day by a dry cleaner from

Santa Ana, then delivered when ready.

We started out with me helping Gary since my days were free, then he could

find someone to help him out permanently. It only took 2 to tango in this business.

Pretty soon he was appearing less and less on the premises to help me get out from

under all those dirty clothes. It was a good thing that Gail, one of my bar clients,

would stop by to shoot the breeze, and she would step in and help me — saving the

day. She had a great sense of humor, and we always had some good laughs. After

some very funny dialogue one afternoon, I put it right to her: “Gail, why don’t you

come and be part of this great organization? You can be Asst. Boss.”

“Now, Silver Bullet (her nickname for me,) I can see you need me desperately, and

you make me laugh, so why not? If you can’t pay the high wages I would demand,

you can just forget about any green stuff being placed on your bar when I order a

drink — just mark it down on that “House Drinks” list you keep next to the cash

register.” I replied, “That’s great, then we don’t have to keep any books around here.”

Gail was an artist from Kansas City, and I think her dad would send her out to

Laguna Beach all the time because artist-types were probably not all that popular in

K.C. and probably did not fit in with his Cadillac Agency. Besides, she was also a free

spirit and was not about to be cooped up in the inner sanctums of an automobile

agency where all the office work took place.

So there we were washing and drying, fluffing and folding, cracking up at our

own jokes, having a great, old time.

And THEN there was Gary, with thousands of business cards announcing his

ownership of the FLUFF AND FOLD — handing them out on the Main Beach in

Laguna, or at the foot of Brook Street where all the surfers would be hanging out

or “hanging ten.” In between waves — he was an excellent surfer —, he would have

plenty of time to pass out more. For all I know, he could’ve been up in Corona del

She replied,

Mar, or he could’ve gone south to San Onofre to run into surfers there at

the “Trestles.”

Gail and I toiled away for months at Gary’s Fluff and Fold. We had some very

interesting customers. One was a very well-known movie star with a summer home

in exclusive Emerald Bay at the northern city limits of Laguna Beach. She and her

husband had either 6 or 8 kids (there I go again: I sure need to find that memory

card.) When the big, black limousine parked out in front, we knew we were in for it.

If the Chauffeur got out of the car to bring in the stuff, it meant lots and lots of big

black bags, maybe 8 or 10. When Mrs. C. drove up and got out, she had only a

couple of smaller bags. Never did see the Husband. Now, in retrospect, maybe the

Chauffeur was the Husband.

Gary’s cards actually did bring in some business from the surfing population.

Of course, they never did have much money, and their belongings would sometimes

sit on the pick-up shelves for months before they would dig up enough moola to

retrieve their stack of clothes. Then there were some stacks that never would be

picked up. I figured they might be over in the Islands, or maybe in Australia —

always on the prowl to find and ride the “big” one.

The “glamour” of our job was starting to wear thin — Gail and I were running

out of laughs. We could go over to the Main Beach and sit in front of my bar and get

more laughs just people watching the sunbathers in some of their get-ups — I can

visualize some pretty funny scenes. Now there would be no more times when Gary

would come in to give a little help, but then after he left we wouldn’t be finding an

IOU for 10 or 20 bucks in the till.

I called my guru, Vic, and simply said, “SELL!” He countered back with “Why

can’t you have Gary take over? It’s about time.” My retort to that was, “Well, no,

that’s out. He is in absentia as owner of the hip Fluff and Fold on North Coast Hwy

of Laguna Beach. He is in Hawaii visiting with his biological mom, but is more apt to

be looking for that “big” one up on the north end of the Island at Makaha.

Many a time I watched him take those Makaha waves. What memories!

MONDAYS WITH MELITAS,

JUNE 4, 2012

MELITAS FORSTER

3 Comments to “Mondays with Melitas – June 4, 2012”

  1. I guess I won’t write any more stories—- no one has replied today.
    Melitas

  2. Dear Mena, Oh, please don’t stop writing your stories. I’m sorry I didn’t reply last night. I was just too tired.

    I LOVE them. I remember that bar you owned on the beach. John and I were there once. What a perfect location.

    I also would like to know more about Gary.

    I hope you are feeling much better.

    Love,
    Maxine

  3. I love reading your stories Melitas! Keep them coming. So glad your back!!!!

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.


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