old times

I’ve been checking out a website that posts old photos of the place where I grew up .

We used to buy balsa wood gliders at the Hobby Shop when I was young . The ones we bought cost five cents . They also had a bigger one that sold for fifteen cents , but I don’t remember anyone getting that one . Too expensive . The gliders had to be assembled — just the wings attached to the body , and they flew pretty well . They provided great entertainment for us kids until their inevitable destruction . They were made of thin and fragile material , after all , and we flew them hour after hour . That’s one of the things kids did before cell phones and computers .

The guy who worked in the hobby shop had a hand that hadn’t fully developed . It was a thing of wonder that we kids discussed with one another but never mentioned while in the Hobby Shop . It was one of the reasons that visits to the Hobby Shop were something special . As I think back on it now , that man was probably young , maybe in his mid or late twenties ; but he was , to us , old . An adult .

There were kids and there were adults . And then , of course , there were those older kids , the scary and sometimes dangerous ones , the teenagers . Watch out for the teenagers ! My older brother was hit by a chain that some bike -riding teenager swung at him one day as he walked home from school . That’s the kind of things those teenagers did . Teenagers were unpredictable and were to be avoided .

I opened my first bank account at Glendale Federal Savings . Those were the days when they gave you a bank book and every time a transaction was made the cashier would stamp the bank book . I had just begun my second bank book ( the first one had filled up ) when I went into the bank to withdraw twenty dollars . I had a total of about two hundred dollars in my account .

I presented my newly issued bank book . The cashier took a look at it and asked me to wait a moment . He walked over to the manager . They talked for a few moments and then the cashier came back to the window and said , ” You just opened an account and you want to withdraw twenty dollars ? ”

I think I was fourteen at the time . His condescending and suspicious tone irritated me . I had recently joined the ranks of teenager , after all !

It was my money after all !

” No , I didn’t just open an account , ” I said calmly , although my teenage irritability was broiling just below the surface . ” And I don’t want to withdraw twenty dollars . I want to withdraw all my money .” The cashier appeared a bit startled .

And so I did just that . I strutted out of that place with my two hundred bucks feeling proud of myself for standing up to those smug corporate bullies . That’ll teach ’em !

I had made most of my vast $200 fortune at that time in my life by working across the street from Glendale Federal Savings washing dishes at the Town Talk Cafe . It was a small place owned by a gruff old German woman . The only other employees were a couple of waitresses who rotated shifts . They were nice to me . The German woman wasn’t .

After my first day on the job , the waitress served me a hamburger . She said this was one of the job’s perks . When the owner saw me with the burger she hit the ceiling . I don’t remember if she took the thing away from me or not , but she may have . She set down the absolute rule : no free food for the dishwasher !

She yelled at me all day long . She yelled about dirt on my apron. She yelled about my bending the handle of the brush I used to wash glasses . Bending it made it easier for me to use ; but , oh no ! She yelled at me for using too much bleach in the dishwater . She yelled at me for this and she yelled at me for that . That’s just the way it was . She was mean .

Construction workers came in during their morning breaks for donuts and coffee . They sat at the counter They were building a Safeway store nearby . One of these guys used to taunt me day after day with lousy Irish jokes . He thought he was funny , but I found him extremely annoying . I stood with my back against the counter while I washed dishes at the sink against the wall . He made sure to position himself near me so he could tell his joke of the day .

One day I had finally had enough . At one point I turned quickly around and grabbed his coffee and donut off the counter . I had only to turn my upper body around to make the move. In a split second I had dunked the platter and cup with the donut and coffee into the soapy dishwater and was nonchalantly continuing my duties . I heard a ” Hey !” behind me and ignored it . Again . He then called the old German woman owner over to complain about what he said I had done .

I gave her a blank look . ” Don’t know what he’s talking about ,” I said . If any of the other customers saw me do what I did they kept quiet . Now the worker behind me , the one with the compendium of tedious Irish jokes , stood yelling at me . I ignored him . Washed the water glasses using the brush with the bent handle , wearing my slightly dirty apron . The old German woman stood nearby with a confused look on her face . She didn’t know whether to yell at me or not . The angry worker was accusing me of something that seemed rather unlikely . Maybe he was a nut case .

A side memory about the Town Talk Cafe is that at one point the German lady wanted to sell the place . She escorted a man in a three piece suit over and introduced me . I figured that he was a prospective buyer . ” This is my son Denny ,” she said . She smiled . He smiled .

I slowly began to remove my apron . ” Sir , ” I said , ” I’m not her son and my name is not Denny .” And I turned to her and finished my moment of defiance with ” and I don’t work here anymore .”

I walked out the rear door of that place and walked home , feeling that maybe a little retributive justice had come to a nasty boss . My dad was surprised to see me . Probably wondered what teenager shenanigans I had been up to .


Filed under humor

5 responses to “old times

  1. GP

    Funny, I started collecting pictures of my town from back in my growing years too. Does this have something to do with our age? 😏

  2. Excellent reactions and actions in all cases. These are the things you would wish you had done, if you hadn’t done them. West Coast Dan – my hero.

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