I should be standing on a corner somewhere in Loveland, displaying a sign reading something like: “Help me! Will work for food!”
With a lifetime of experience I can say without hesitation: I have worked my entire lifetime — for food and other necessities.
Whenever I pass one of those sign holders, I wonder just how good business is.
One of my favorites is when I spot such a sign at the corner of Lincoln and U.S. 34, next to a fast food restaurant, with their sign offering job openings beginning at $11 per hour.
Oh well, why work?
I not only worked for food, I worked for some of the things I knew I wanted but wouldn’t find resting under our Christmas tree.
I loved to build model airplanes and in order to feed the habit I had to find work.
My first job, (other than a brief stint as the worst newspaper boy in captivity) was as the cleanup boy at Roe’s Bakery.
Roe lived next door to us, and one summer day at the breakfast table I bemoaned the fact that I’d like a job that paid money. Dad suggested I contact Roe, and later that day I scraped up enough courage to traipse next door and ask for a job.
Roe offered me a job, to begin at 7 the next morning, at the hefty rate of 60 cents an hour. Doing the math, I calculated I would be earning $24 per week! Imagine the model airplanes I could buy with that kind of money.
Lucky for me, just a couple of doors down the street from the bakery was Dastrup’s, a sort of catch-all lunch counter, newsstand, drugstore (without the drugs) and a toy section with a nice selection of models.
Mr. Dastrup was usually standing behind the lunch counter, puffing a cigar and drinking coffee. Mrs. Dastrup always reminded me of the ideal Mrs. Santa Claus, she had the appearance and the demeanor.
On the days when I didn’t just waylay a doughnut or two from Roe’s showroom counters, I’d have a hamburger at Dastrup’s, and if I hadn’t already spent my week’s pay, I’d head for the model department and pick out one or two. (The models were of the balsa wood and paper variety, plastic models were a few years in the future.)
During the two years I worked for Roe, I became good friends with the Dastrups, and if Mr. Dastrup sensed I was short of cash, would tell me to pick out a model, take it home, put it together, and he would display it in the store. Soon I had all the models to build I wanted, and they were free.
Nice people, the Dastrups.
One last thing about Roe’s turns out to be the first thing about Roe’s.
My first day on the job, and as you probably remember from your own work experiences, the first day on the job, was a pretty tedious eight hours.
My mentor was Rosie Greenhalgh (pronounced “Greenhouse”). Rosie was probably in her mid 30s, a hefty girl with a rather luxuriant mustache. But she had a heart of gold.
That first morning I was helping remove a batch of cakes from the huge oven, and after emptying the pans, I stacked the empties onto large sheet cake pans, and put them up for storage. One large pan probably held 15 or 20 cake tins.
I had transferred several trays full, when I stumbled and 20 tins hit the floor. It sounded like an explosion in a cymbal factory.
I knew I was dead meat. Everything stopped; Roe looked up, the cake icer had a major repair job to do on her current cake, and as I hurried and gathered things up and apologized, expecting to be fired any minute, I was happy to find that I still had a job.
It was a memorable first day — and possibly the worst day of my brief career at Roe’s.
So, you know, I’ve always worked for food — including fresh doughnuts.