School begins and my first real job at Richey Restaurant

Gulf Comprehensive High School

Sometime in late August early September 1970 I began 10th grade at Gulf Comprehensive High School in New Port Richey Florida. So far I enjoyed school. No problems so far. I did have to hide my laughter when I heard some of the kids talk. I had never been exposed to the “Southern drawl” way of talking. It was very amusing to me and I wanted to laugh out loud. However I tamped down the desire roll on the floor with laughter!

A typical high school drafting class in the 60s

I especially liked the drafting class that I enrolled in. It was so fun to dream up plans for a home and to learn how to do this properly.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I wanted to get a job to earn money for a car. I had turned 15 in May and had my restricted license.

Circa 1970 Florida drivers handbook

So all I needed to do was wait until I was 16 and pass the test. Driving school or drivers education was not a requirement to get your license back then. So my dad and I went to the tax collectors office to pick up a Florida drivers handbook. I began studying the manual at once. I even wrote it out as this helped me remember.

A Honda CL 70

I still had my CL70 motorcycle and I got permission to drive it on US19 to look for work. The motorcycle was under 5 brake horsepower so was allowed on most streets. Mom was not happy about this. Dad reassured her that it was necessary until I had earned enough to get a car.

So I began canvassing US19 at all the businesses that may be looking for help. One after another I asked and was turned down. I was beginning to get discouraged. However I pressed on. I was 5 miles from home when I spotted Richey restaurant on the east side of US19 just south of the bridge. “Why not” I said to myself. I was getting used to rejection and the indifference the world cared about my problems.

Richey restaurant. Now a biker bar

I parked my motorcycle and entered the restaurant. The restaurant was a typical home cooking eating establishment. Nothing fancy. A meat and potato place if you will. The clientele were mostly truckers and construction workers. There was one waitress working the tables and a large woman sitting behind the cash register folding napkins.

I approached the lady at the cash register and said “Hello. My name is Jim. I am wondering if you are looking for help.” The lady frowned at me and motioned to the waitress to come over. She said “Betty. This boy is looking for a job. Please go get Fanny so she can talk to him.” She pointed to a booth and said “Sit over there and wait for Fanny to come talk to you.

I sat down in the booth and looked around. There were a few diners sitting alone at tables eating. There was an elderly couple in a booth enjoying their repast. There were a few at the bar too (no alcohol) eating their meals.

Presently Fanny joined me at the booth. She was a slim lady in her early 70s. As it turned out the lady at the cash register was her sister Bertha. There was one other sister that was a silent partner in the business. I never met her.

Fanny said “I am looking to hire a bus boy. I can’t pay much. 1 dollar an hour is all I can give you. You can work after school until closing Monday through Friday and 8 hours on Saturdays and 8 hours on Sundays.”

Thinking it over

I thought it over. This only gave me 1 hour for homework and very little free time. However I did the math. That would be 20 hours during the week and 16 hours on the weekend. At 1 dollar an hour that would be 36 dollars a week. That is 144 dollars in 4 weeks! A lot of money back then for a young boy just getting into the job market. It would not take long to save enough to buy a car. A reliable used car back then could be purchased for 500 to 1000 dollars.

“Yes. That is acceptable. When do you want me to start?” I said. Fanny said “You can start Monday after school. That will give you a free weekend.” “Thank you” I smiled! “I will see you Monday after school!”

I headed out the door and put on my helmet. My spirit was lifted after all the rejection I had been through today. Things were looking up for this relocated Michigan boy! I got on my motorcycle, checked for traffic and pulled out onto US19 north and headed for home.

I register for 10th grade. I license my motorcycle. And a motorcycle ride north on Old Dixie Highway.

Gulf Comprehensive High School now Gulf Middle School

In the 1st week of August 1970, just after we had arrived at our new home, my mother took me to Gulf Comprehensive High School in New Port Richey to register for school. 10th grade took place at Gulf Comprehensive High School on Louisiana ave. New Port Richey Florida. This school is now, at the time of this writing, a Middle school. Registration was uneventful. Classes included math writing history art French and drafting. I found that school was easy here in Florida compared to the curriculum taught up north in Michigan. I did not know the reason for this.

1970 Florida motorcycle license plate

Earlier in the week dad and I went down to the tax collectors office to get a license plate for my Honda CL70. Mom was not too keen on me driving a motorcycle and was even more nervous of me driving one on the road. However I intended on getting an after school job so mom saw the need for me to be more mobile. She would fuss over me like a mother hen. “You be careful Jim! Make sure you are visible! Wear somthing bright so people can see you! Oh those things are dangerous!” Mom would go on and on as all good mothers do that love their children, to make sure her baby was safe healthy and clean.

Aripeka and surrounding area

Dad and I made it home and at once I installed the new license plate on my motorcycle. I wanted to explore my new highway freedom so asked if I could head out and take a look around. They said yes with a few restrictions. I must avoid driving on US 19. US 19 was a busy and dangerous road even way back then. So I got out a map to have a look as to where I could go for a ride. I discovered that I could ride to Aripeka, just north of us with only a very short ride on US 19.

Old Dixie Highway
Old Dixie Highway

It’s a very pleasant ride to Aripeka heading north on the Dixie Highway. The road turns to dirt after you get by Sea Pines then turns to pavement just south of Aripika. On the ride I wound through quaint little fishing communities. I took the road until it stopped at US 19. I then turned the motorcycle around and came back the way I had come.

Bridge over inlet in Aripeka
Aripeka bate shop

I stopped on the bridge in Aripeka, the one that goes over the river and visited the bate and tackle shop near the bridge. I got a coke and some cheese curls and returned to the bridge and my motorcycle.

Twilight in Aripeka Florida

Aripeka is lovely and very picturesque. A quaint little fishing community if you will. The people that live there are friendly and very laid back. The area is known worldwide for it’s artistic draw. It is not uncommon to see an artist happily at work painting the picturesque scenery.

I finished my coke and cheese curls and started up the motorcycle. I thought to myself that all is not as bad as I thought it would be. I had vehicular freedom. I had made a new friend. 10th grade was on the horizon with all of it’s possibilities and challenges. Yes life is good I thought as I mounted the motorcycle and made my way back home.