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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.