My father always instilled a strong work ethic in me and my three sisters. I never lacked for a job whether it be putting on a marionette show for a birthday party when I was twelve or waitressing at Rosie O’Grady’s in New York City during college break. My fourteen year old son recently asked me for some ideas on how he could get a summer job to save up for a computer. Since sixteen is the legal working age, I was at a loss, but it did bring back some vivid memories of my own past summer jobs as a teen. I have highlighted below, three that I will always remember.
Popover Girl – Lauraine Murphy Restaurant, Manhasset, NY
“Miss! watch those tongs! You almost took out my eye!” I smiled apologetically as I placed the still oven warm, feather light popover, on the angry patron’s side plate and hastily made my way to the next table. Flashback to age sixteen, on the very first evening, of my very first job. “Murphy’s” as it was affectionately known, was a rite of passage for Manhasset youth. Everyone knew someone who had worked there, whether it be sister, brother or cousin. Lauraine Murphy was a family run restaurant catering to “the geriatric set.” I still recall the line of walkers and wheelchairs lined up in the lobby. But it was their popovers that will always be remembered and whose recipe is still rumored to be undiscovered. Sadly, Lauraine Murphy is no longer but the memories of my time as a popover girl remain fresh.
Pros – All the popovers you could devour.
Cons – During the holidays, the hostesses were required to go from table to table singing Christmas carols. I still recall the beet red face of Cynthia Pierce, frozen in smile, the only one among four of us, singing. One of the girls started laughing which set off a chain reaction. Cynthia however, refused to succumb. She sang the whole last stanza in solo. I always admired her for that.
Fitting Model – Haseena – I was hired as a fitting model for a small store specializing in traditional Indian clothes such as wrap around skirts and henna tee shirts. I would stand silently as the nervous tailor draped fabric around me, tucking and pinning aside the eagle-eyed owner who barked orders.
Pros -Discounted fashionable clothes, calling myself a model even though it was a gross exaggeration, and location within walking distance of my high school.
Cons – The occasional pin prick and standing for long periods of time. I was fired less than a month into the job as the owner thought I was “too skinny” and my thin figure did not do her fashions justice. I heard my mother tell her friend that I quit because the tailor was peering in the fitting room at me while I changed, a total fabrication possibly because she couldn’t face the fact I was fired.
Cashier/Concession/Usher – Manhasset Cinema – By far, my favorite job. The cinema played upscale, foreign films so I never had to deal with unruly teens. The amiable manager wore a tuxedo nightly and the cool, darkened art deco theater was serene and beautiful.
Pros – Free movies and popcorn. Learning about Fellini films at a young age.
Cons – Having to pass a March of Dimes donation box throughout the audience at intermission. The shock of Julie Andrews (known until then for her role as Maria in Sound of Music) baring her breasts in Victor/Victoria.
Salesgirl – Lane Bryant – Another of my most enjoyable jobs though a bit of a departure as fashions were for full-figured women and as mentioned above in my short stint at Haseena, I was very thin. I loved selling shoes at Lane Bryant and would often busy myself in the stock room taking a little extra time if I had a particularly busy day. I received an extra commission for each pair of shoes sold.
Pros – Creative license in selecting outfits for customers. My best friend worked there too.
Cons – I recommended my sister Sheila for the job when I left for college and she was fired her first day. The manager pulled back the dressing room curtain to find her “resting” inside, after only a few hours on the job. My reputation was tarnished and I never returned to Lane Bryant though my memories remain fond.
To the toils of my labor over summer jobs past. I miss you all, each and every one!
What was your favorite summer job?