“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” – The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
The Early Years
My grandmother taught me to work from the time I could walk. She gave me regular chores; I set the table, swept down the attic and cellar stairs, and helped with the dishes. I loved working with her and had not a clue that it was “work.”
Baby-sitting and pet-sitting are not lucrative propositions, but I made some money that way from the time I was 12 years old. I started at 25 cents an hour. I still babysit my granddaughter (for free) on occasion, and once in a while I care for the pets of some friends.
In my senior year of high school I entered the world of discount retail. The manager of the Atlantic Thrift Store hired me to be a cashier. Till then, my mother had insisted that if she paid for my clothes, she got to choose them. One of the first things I bought was a pair of cork soled platform sandals that I wore to work. My most outstanding memory was of one of my fellow students at Ridley High School who tried to con me into letting him “slide” on the 25 cents short he was for the music album he wanted.
When I got to college, I had a work-study scholarship. My first responsibility was the gymnasium on the eighth floor of what had been a YWCA. I cleaned floors and toilets after school hours. One summer I worked in the men’s dorm cleaning in the wake of their departure. *shudder* In my second semester, one of the Profs invited me to be the secretary for the humanities department. I was to answer the phone, type for and help teachers, and take messages. Students came by to make appointments with teachers, but always took one look at me and left in a hurry. My roommate chalked it up to me looking like I knew what I was doing.
In my junior year during Christmas break I randomly filled out an employment application at a pharmacy near home and was hired immediately. I moved back home until I graduated.
Go West Young Woman
After graduation, I was hired to be an editorial assistant at Baptist Publications in Denver. I packed my car and left Pennsylvania alone on Thanksgiving Day (amid the family’s tearful faces and tears). I arrived in Denver on Sunday. The publishing house had booked a room for me in a Ramada Inn. Monday, I began to work.
Denver was an awesome place to live and work. Every morning I looked out of a picture window from which I could see the mountains turn pink as the sun rose. Another young woman boarded in the same home. The landlady was a thrifty woman who once tried to wash used aluminum foil in the dishwasher.
There was a lot to do in the area. I hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park, ate at Casa Bonita (a renovated J.C. Penney’s store that resembled a Mexican town). A couple of friends and I went to Heritage Square in Golden to eat at a dinner theater where they performed old-fashioned melodrama.
I killed the January Blues with a class on modern fantasy literature. One of the students, a former sailor, struck up a friendship with me. We dated for a while, and then he asked me to marry him.
…to be continued