At age 16, I started a job that I would continue for some 16 more years, with a little military and a short time job in between. All throughout high school, I worked for this local establishment that had few employees outside of family. It really tore into my social time with school friends. While they would cruise the streets of Brazil, I'd be out in front of the business, either raking leaves or sweeping the walks as they sped past honking, yelling and laughing. All in all it was a decent job, sans vacuuming, cleaning windows on the second floor while hanging outside with one arm wiping windows and the other holding on to a nimble, wobbling wrought iron railing for dear life and sweeping the roof. This was before OSHA, mind you. I also cut grass and was responsible for keeping a parking lot clean that was about the size of the state of Rhode Island! I cleaned wallpaper, dusted, cleaned light bulbs, straightened out numerous throw rugs which thousands of people tripped over. All this was being continuously observed by a red haired lady I couldn't help but like. Gladys was a chain smoker, constantly with a cigarette in one hand and an ashtray in the other. What ashes she dropped, I'd follow behind and scoop up. As I was washing second story windows, she would be inside in a rocking chair, watchin', puffin' and a-rockin'. Once in a while she'd get up and point to a spot I had missed on the outside while leaving another smudge for me on the inside. And newspapers, no paper towels, newspapers were what I used to wipe the glass dry. She said newspapers left the windows shinier. Something about the chemicals in the ink, she said. I always suspected it was because she'd already paid for the newspapers and paper towels would have to be purchased new.
Gladys liked to talk, too... and listen. She was best at talking, though I must admit. She was a kind, sometimes humorous woman. She would back me up one minute, and then back me in a corner the next. She would confide in me, although she probably confided in a lot of people. Gladys would tell me about her day at the beauty shop or the prior nights Kiwanianne's meeting. Kiwanianne's was the female version of the Kiwanis Club. She would ask questions about the kids at school if she knew their parents, trying to find out the dope (different era, different meaning) on them or their parents. One time, and I can't attest to this, a young friend of mine who lived a few houses from Gladys received a pair of binoculars for a gift. As he was scanning the surrounding area, he glanced towards Gladys' house and found her looking out of her window, also with a pair of binoculars. She certainly liked to know what was going on in the neighborhood.
My work schedule was immediately after school, and not five minutes after school, immediately! After all, the place was the length of a football field away from the back doors of the school. I usually left around 9, when Gladys and her husband would retire for the night in their apartment upstairs over the business. On the nights they were "open for business", I'd be expected to be there until the visitors left and then clean up after them, arranging chairs, straightening throw rugs and vacuuming. Often times it was after ten or eleven o'clock when I'd leave. On week nights I'd usually head for home after a couple of laps through town to see if anyone else was working as late as I was. Weekends were different. I'd prearrange a meeting with friends or they'd be waiting on me because I had a car and most of them didn't. We'd cruise around and around, back and forth from Tom's Parkmore to the Tastee Freeze.
Those were the days in the late 60s. Most kids nowadays don't have jobs. If they do, I bet they make a lot more than $45 per week. Of course, according to government calculators, $45 in 1968 had the spending power of $301 today. WOW! I made good money!