Trade's boring stories.

One thing I regret is not keeping a journal. I've started them a few times but I've never made it more than a few days before fizzling out. And now that I am getting old I find my memories are fading. So I've decided to start this thread so that I can write down some stuff that I still remember from the past. Will this effort fizzle out like all the other's in the past? Probably. But here goes.

My first entry is entitled "First Time Drunk".

It was the summer between the 9th and 10th grade. I had just turned 15 and was living with my mother in a little cottage behind someone's house. She was renting it for 50 bucks a month. Since my mother was a single mom waitress I was pretty much a latch key kid from fairly early on. So my buddy and I hatched a plan where we would get drunk one day when I had the place to myself. The plan was that we would each acquire a six pack of beer somehow. I managed to talk my mother into buying a six pack of Miller High Life in cans on the pretense that I just wanted to "try it." That was the kind of beer she would drink on rare occasions when she did. If I caught her in the right mood I could talk her into doing things for me that she ordinarily wouldn't. That's what I did this time. I'm sure all she had in mind was that she would let me take a few sips out of one while she was there. But you know how that out of sight, out of mind thing works.

I don't remember the brand that my buddy got. Or how he got it for that matter, but he was the kind of kid that would just take six of his old man's beers out of the refrigerator without asking and to Hell with the consequences, so that's probably what he did. So anyway, we had the place to ourselves and we stated pounding those brewski's. Neither one of us had ever drank before so after we had each had four beers we were both three sheets to the wind and acting pretty stupid. He had a Vespa motor scooter and we decided to take a ride around the neighborhood on it. I don't remember much except that we took a spill on it in the alley behind where I lived, so after that we decided to go back inside and finished the rest of the beers, which we did. At the time I weighed about 170 lbs and my buddy only went about a buck forty so even though we were both drunk, it hit him a bit harder and he got sick. But instead of hugging the commode like you are supposed to, he went to the bath room sink and started up chucking into it.

The problem with this is that it was a fre standing sink and he leaned his whole weight on it. When he did that, the sink came off the wall and in the process sheared off the copper water supply tube that came out of the wall. So right away water started gushing out of that tubing at 30 psi and it was going all over the place. I panicked and started trying to stop the water by wrapping a wash cloth, and then a towel around the end of the tubing but of course that didn't do anything so then I ran outside and started looking all around the cottage for a shut off valve, but I couldn't find one. Finally in desperation I went up to the main house and knocked on the landlords door. That was about the time by buddy decided to beat it for home.

I made up some story about how it had been an accident and left out any reference to the fact that we had been drinking. By that time I was feeling pretty well sobered up from the situation although I don't know how it appeared to anyone looking at me. The landlord was a guy that was confined to a wheelchair but he knew right where the shut off valve was and he got the water turned off. By that time there was a good 2 inches of water over the entire floor of the cottage. Fortunately the place had terrazzofloors so there wasn't any damage to them, just a mess to clean up. When my mother got home she was pretty mad but I tried to pass off the story that it had just been an accident and it was working sort of, until she noticed that all her beer was gone. Then I had to fess up that my buddy and I had each had three beers. I didn't mention that he had brought six others over and that we really had had six each. That didn't help much but I still stuck with the three beers story.


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Trade, I would have been grounded until age 21, if I had done all that. You are a lucky guy. Great story.

Original Poster
Trade, I would have been grounded until age 21, if I had done all that. You are a lucky guy. Great story.
My mother was a single mom with an 8th grade education trying to scrape by on waitress jobs. She was pretty much overwhelmed by the situation. As a result I didn't get a whole lot of discipline other than just getting screamed at. Fortunately I was pretty much a Goodie Two-Shoes and didn't get into very much mischief.


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North Carolina
What a story! It's amazing that a 9th or 10th grader knew anything at all about turning off the water valve. Maybe it's a guy thing but you had never been a homeowner. Maybe your mother taught you that. Good for her and good idea to journal these stories now.

Ruth n Jersey

Well-known member
Great story Trade. I am also starting a diary of sorts but I'm writing it all down in a nice notebook. Just bits and pieces of my remembrances. I'm trying to start back as far as I can remember which I think must be 3 possibly 2. I figure i'd put it on paper because in a few years I may not even know how to turn on the computer. I can hopefully read it while I drool in my oatmeal and it might jar my memory.
Original Poster
Great story Trade. I am also starting a diary of sorts but I'm writing it all down in a nice notebook. Just bits and pieces of my remembrances. I'm trying to start back as far as I can remember which I think must be 3 possibly 2. I figure i'd put it on paper because in a few years I may not even know how to turn on the computer. I can hopefully read it while I drool in my oatmeal and it might jar my memory.
Give it a try. I'm finding that as I begin to write the bits and pieces that I can remember, it triggers more memories that I thought were gone.
Original Poster
I posted this one before. I just copied it and am posting it here to keep them all together.

One day when I was about 8 years old my mother came to me and said that the lady that lived in back of us (her back yard bordered on ours) was having her nephew stay with her for a few days and wouldn't it be nice if I went over there and played with him.

So over I went and met whatshisname, I forget. Let's call him James. Anyway it turns out James had brought a tent with him and the plan was to camp out in the back yard. That sounded pretty cool to me and my mom and James' aunt were OK with it. We'll just be in the back yard and right in between the two houses, what can go wrong?

So that's what we did. We were hanging out in the tent playing with our flashlights and talking about whatever eight year boys do. I forget what. It was getting pretty dark when James took his pillowcase off of his pillow and said "Follow me, I wanna show you something" and I said OK, I followed him out across the vacant lot that was next to our houses.

On the lot next to the vacant lot there was a little mom and pop type "corner store" and once we were across the vacant lot that was maybe 100 feet wide we were at the back of this store. And at the back of the store they had something, I don't know how to describe it, but it was kind of like a chicken coop. A storage area made with a wooden frame and some kind of fencing. And stacked up in that storage area right next to the fencing were a whole bunch of empty pop bottles in their wooden cases. The kind that you can get 2 cents a piece for when you return them to the store. Do you see where this is going?

I'm not sure what size the mesh of that fencing material was but it was big enough for an 8 year old to stick his arm through, grab a pop bottle, and pull it back out. And that's what James started to do. Pull out those pop bottles one at a time and put them in his pillowcase. And, in spite of being scared out of my mind, it wasn't long before I started to help him. I didn't want James to think I was a scaredy cat. And I was sure not going to rat him out because being a tattletale is much worse than even being a scaredy cat.

The next morning James says "OK, let's turn these in." I'm still scared to death but I go along with it, but I'm wondering where we're going to do it. But James isn't wondering at all. He's got this. He heads right over to the same store he and I stole them from last night. And I go along with him. Even more scared than I was the night before. James put's them up on the counter and the cashier lady doesn't bat an eye. She just counts them up and hands us the money. I think we ended up with a buck and change each.

James went back home in a day or two. He lived in Hollywood Florida which is on the other coast from where this took place in Clearwater. I never saw him again. But I had to live there about 100 feet away from the store that I had helped steal those bottles from. I don't think I dared to go back into it for at least a couple of months. But nothing ever came of it. I got away clean. I never told anybody about it until many years later. Why did I do it? I guess I could blame it on peer pressure but it was me who succumbed to it. As for James, I don't know what his deal was. I don't think he needed the money. My best guess is for the cheap thrill.
Original Poster
Same with this one. Just an older post that I m copying here.

Back in 1967 a buddy of mine and I took a trip from Pinellas County on the Gulf Coast of Florida over to St. Augustine to try out some real ocean waves. We lived in Largo and had been mostly surfing Clearwater and Bellair Beaches. Did you know you can actually a ride a six inch swell with a longboard if if it's nice and glassy in the early morning. Yep, Gulf of Mexico surfers can get pretty desperate. I've got some surfing stories but this ain't one of them. Anyway when we got to St. Augustine Beach we locked our wallets in the trunk and then went down to the beach and I hid the car keys by wrapping them up in my T-shirt and Towel (yeah same way I "hid" my father's watch that got stolen) and left them on the beach and then we hit the waves which weren't all that great that day, but at least bigger than what we were used to on the Gulf.

Anyway, we surfed for maybe a couple of hours and when we got back my keys were right where I left them, but then this guy comes up to us a says that while we were in the water a couple of other guys had gotten my keys, and went up to my car and opened the trunk and took some things out of it, then came back and put my keys back. We asked the guy why he didn't try to stop them and he said he was scared. Anyway when we checked our wallets were intact except that all our cash was gone. It was about 20 bucks.,which back then was a fair amount of cash. Plenty for us to pig out on burgers fries and coke , gas up the car and still be flush. But now we were flat broke, about 200 miles from home with the gas gauge reading about 1/4, nowhere near enough gas to get back. So we went panhandling up and down the beach. I think we finally managed to beg about a buck eight seven or thereabouts which we spent every penny of on 30 cents a gallon gas which was enough to get us home hungry and with the gas gauge on E.
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I might get in trouble for this one, but I think it's hilarious looking back on it. So here goes. This one is called "The P Word" . That's the word that got Trump in trouble back during the campaign.

The "P" word.

When I was about 8 years old we lived across the street from the elementary school that I attended. Back then they didn't close off the grounds after hours. In fact there wasn't even a fence. So kids would go there when school wasn't in and use the ball field or the playground stuff or the basketball courts. One day I was hanging out at the basketball courts watching the older kids play. Usually the game was Horse, or 21 and sometimes they would let us younger kids play too. One day some of the older kids decided to choose up sides and have an actual game. They had several basketballs there and a discussion was going on about which ball they would use for the game. One of the kids started bouncing one of the balls that was obviously low on air. Another kid said to him. Don't use that one. That one is softer than a woman's ("P"word).

My parents never used much rough language around me. In fact back then it wasn't very common. All my dad would ever say would be "Jesus Christ Almighty" He would really drag it out too. It came out more like "GEEE-SUS CA-RICED ALLMITY! " And once in a great while my mother would use "shitin" Like if the car was acting up, it would be "This shitin car!" Or if the dog was misbehaving it would be "That shtin little dog!". But that was the extent of it. I had never heard the "P" word used in that particular context , so the image that popped into my head was an old lady sitting in a rocking chair with a big fluffy cat in her lap. A big fluffy soft cat. That seemed like a pretty cool descriptive way of describing something that was soft.

A short while later, when I was at home something came up where it presented what I thought would be a good opportunity to use my newly learned vocabulary. I forget what it was I was describing, but I said to my mother "that one is softer than a woman's "P"word. And as soon as the word came out of my mouth she went nuclear. She went to screaming at me about where did you get that from!? That's a filthy word! Don't you ever let me hear you say that word again! and some more stuff about washing my mouth out with soap if I ever said that word again! But not one clue as to what the word meant. Nope. So I had no idea what it was I had said but I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with a big fluffy cat. I had to learn that later, in the streets, from the older kids. And only by context. Nobody sat me done and explained the finer points.


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Trade, I remember getting a wince, and a suggestion from my mother once, not to use that word in describing our cat. Must have been about 5-6 years old, 'cause that's when we got our first cat. Why? "Just don't." Good enough for me.


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When I read these stories I had to look at your age. We could swap stories but sure your are told better. I'd say keep on keeping on. I enjoyed the read.
Original Poster
When I read these stories I had to look at your age. We could swap stories but sure your are told better. I'd say keep on keeping on. I enjoyed the read.
Thanks Dude. That was enough of an inspiration for me to put up another one.

Back in High School I had this friend named Jon. I hung out with him because he was a bigger loser dork than I was so I felt like the cool kid next to him. I felt kind of sorry for him because even though he wasn't as poor as I was his parents didn't give a crap about him and so he had it worse than I did. The entire time he was in high school the poor schmuck only owned two shirts. A navy blue one and a burgundy one. And they were both short sleeved which was fine most of the time because this was Florida, but occasionally it would get chilly in the winter and the poor schmuck would have go around shivering all the time because he didn't have a jacket. His room was like a monks cell. I mean the dude didn't have anything. Anyway he didn't get along well with his parents. They just tolerated him by allowing him basic room and board and nothing else.

I take that back. Somehow he did manage to get a set of weights. Working out was his life. He would go home from school and work out for about three hours every single day. A split routine, upper body one day, lower body the next. He got fairly strong but he had this wiry build and he could not put on any weight to speak of no matter how hard he tried. He was about 6 feet tall and he never weighed over 150, usually less.

Anyway, one day Jon showed up at my door and he was obviously agitated. He said "I just had a fight with my old man and I shoved him and knocked him down and I took the keys to his car and left in it, lets go for a ride!". His old man's car was a fairly late model, maybe a 62 or 63 Olds Supper 88. They had let Jon get his license but they had never, ever let him take the car. So anyway off we went up US 19 towards Pasco County. Back in those days you could find some pretty open stretches of highway on US 19, especially to the north of where we lived (Largo). So we were just cruising and blasting the radio like a couple of teen aged dorks that we were.

We got up to New Port Richey which was a pretty small rural place back then and we turned around and headed back towards home and Jon says "Let's see what this baby will do". I'm cool with that so he opens it up and we go flying down US 19 southbound. Jon wanted to see if he could "bury the needle". I think the speedometer went up to 120. We got pretty close but I don't think he quite made it before we ran into some traffic and he had to dial it back to maybe 80 or so.

Not to long after that Jon looks up into the rear view mirror and sees the flashing red lights (they were red back then) of a cop car coming up behind him. And he says "Uh oh Greg (that's my real name) we're in trouble." Now not too long before that I had heard for the first time that classic Lone Ranger and Tonto joke. You know the one where they are surrounded by hostile Indians? And so without skipping a beat I turned to him and said "What do you mean we're in trouble Jon, you're the one that's driving" . It was perfect timing! The look on Jon's face was priceless!.

And sure enough the cop didn't say a word to me. He told Jon that he had clocked him at something like 112 ( the speed limit was 65 back then) and wrote him a ticket. I don't know what kind of trouble Jon was in after he dropped me off and went home. He didn't talk about it. Truth is there wasn't a whole lot more they could do to him then what they already had. The poor schmuck didn't have anything for them to take away.
Original Poster
This Charlottesville stuff is bringing back some memories for me. Back when I was a kid I had a friend named Ed. He was from somewhere up north, Illinois I think. We would go down to McKay Creek which was not far from his house and we would play Civil War. The banks of the creek had this kind of dirt that would clump up and we would throw these dirt clumps at each other and pretend they were cannon fire. Since he was from up north he would always be Grant and since I was born in the south and still bought into the "Noble Southerner" myth I would pretend I was Lee. It was great fun pasting each other with dirt bombs out in the fresh air and sunshine. Probably a lot healthier than today's kids playing games inside on their various internet devices.


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My son says to me.

"How about you tell me again the story of how you had to walk to school in the winter with barbed wire around your shoes so you could climb the icy hills that were never plowed."
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This one I will call "Last Time Drunk"

It was at Waynes retirement party in 2005 or 2006 I forget.

Wayne was a coworker who was retiring from the FDOT(Florida Department of Transportation) He was in his early 50’s but he had started with them right out of High School. And he had worked his way up into a fairly good section head position. Wayne and his wife were DINKS. No, I don’t mean that in the racist context. I mean it in the way that stands for Double Income No Kids. Wayne’s wife had an executive position with the local State Farm Corporate Office in Winter Haven. So they had a really nice house on a lake in Auburndale.

Wayne invited all his neighbors and pretty much all of his coworkers from the FDOT district office where he and I worked. It was quite a party and Wayne went all out with the free booze and fancy ors de orbs and what not. I don’t know how much it cost him. It must have been well up into the thousands of bucks. I’d say that during the night well over 100 people came and went. My wife doesn’t like things like that so I went by myself.

As I said there was all kinds booze there. My favorite kind too. The kind that’s free. I stuck with the stuff that had people’s names on the bottles. Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, J.W. Dant. Etc. You get the picture? Anyway, I seldom drink, but every once in a while, in the past of course, I have been known to really tie one on. And I did that night. Later that night found me sitting in a lawn chair behind Waynes house finishing off a big tumbler of some kind of brown stuff on the rocks and gazing out at the moonlight reflecting off of the lake when I decided to get up and fix myself another round.

But when I stood up and took a step I found that I lost my balance and started to stagger. I was trying to keep myself from doing a face plant on Waynes lawn when somehow I have staggered half fell into one of Waynes back windows and broke it with my forehead. It didn’t shatter or anything. Just made a big spiderweb of cracks in it. It was one of those fancy windows with two panes of glass with space in between them for insulation. I wasn’t hurt much. Just a bruise on my forehead. I’m half Polack and half Dutch so I’ve been blessed with a pretty hard head.

So I made my way inside and sat down in a big chair in his living room and went to sleep. Or passed out, I’m not sure. I woke up a little later and went looking for my keys to go home but Wayne had taken them. So I went back to sleep. I’m not sure for how long but when I got up I managed to talk Wayne into believing that I was now OK to drive and he reluctantly gave me my keys back.

This was on a Saturday night. Or maybe it was Friday, I forget. But anyway I went back to work Monday morning with the bruise on my forehead. And I took a lot of teasing at work because everybody knew what had happened.

I was considering not doing anything about Wayne’s window, because after all the guy was pretty well off. But I got to feeling guilty about it and so by mid morning I wrote out a check to him for $250 bucks and put it in the mail to him. I hoped that would cover it.

The next day Wayne called me at work and asked if I would be willing to pay ½ the cost of the window. I told him that there was a check in the mail for $250 coming his way and I hoped that would cover it. He said it wouldn’t cost that much because he was friends with the contractor that had installed them when he had the house built and he would give him a deal. Wayne was a construction contractor himself on the side so he knew a lot of people in that business. So it ended up with him sending me back $100 bucks because he said the guy only charged him $150.

It took almost two weeks for that bruise on my forehead to go away and that was pretty embarrassing. That was the last time I have been drunk.
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How many of you remember the 50 mile hike frenzy of 1963?

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy unintentionally played an important role that provided the spark to ignite interest for ultrarunning in America and elsewhere. The door was flung open for all who wanted to challenge themselves. An unexpected 50-mile frenzy swept across the U.S. like a raging fire that dominated the newspapers for weeks. Tens of thousands of people attempted to hike 50 miles, both the old and the very young. Virtually unnoticed was a small club event run/hiked by highschool boys in Maryland that evenually became America’s oldest ultra, the JFK 50.

Kennedy’s Push for Physical Fitness
John F. Kennedy had campaigned with a goal to improve the nation’s physical health, and once in office he made that a priority. He feared that the future generations would be spectators of sport rather than participants on the field of play because of their lack of physical fitness. Shortly after he was elected, President-elect Kennedy published an article in Sports Illustrated called, “The Soft American,” in which he wrote, “we can fully restore the physical soundness of our nation only if every American is willing to assume responsibility for his own fitness and the fitness of his children. . . . All of us must consider our own responsibilities for the physical vigor of our children and of the young men and women of our community. We do not want our children to become a generation of spectators. Rather, we want each of them to be a participant in the vigorous life.”

In 1961 a “Fit as a Fiddle” newsreel was produced by Kennedy’s Physical Fitness Program targeting youth to understand the importance of physical fitness. Also that year, 200,000 copies of a song called “Chicken Fat” was distributed to all schools with the lyrics, “Nuts to the flabby guys! Go, you chicken fat, go away!” Detroit officials banned the song, judging the lyrics to be in bad taste for children. There was also resistance to the idea exercising to music.

Fitness Test for Marines
General David M. ShoupBack in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt issued an executive order that every Marine captain and lieutenant should be able to hike 50 miles in 20 hours. If necessary, this could be accomplished over a three-day period. For the final half mile the test required the marines to “double-time” to the finish. In 1962 Kennedy discovered this executive order and asked his Marine Commandant, David M. Shoup (1904-1983), to falsely claim that the discovery was his. Kennedy then then wanted Shoup to find out how well his present-day officers could do with the 50-mile test. Shoup made it an order to his Marines. Twenty Marine officers would be selected, ten captains and ten lieutenants to take the test in mid-February 1963, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
News Article Starts the Frenzy
An Associated Press article was published nationwide on February 5, 1963 that shared the story of the Roosevelt test and Shoup’s order to test 20 of his Marines. It received intense national attention. President Kennedy never directly challenged America to take the 50-mile challenge, and no walks were sponsored by the Fitness Council, but the article inspired many across the country, who were eager to test themselves too. Naïve, untrained, citizens, immediately decided to hit the road without much planning to undertake the challenge in the middle of the cold winter. In response, the government tried to make it clear that they were not encouraging and sponsoring 50-mile hikes conducted by the public.
The Public Starts Hiking 50 Miles
Colonel Tuma during his run/hikeOn the very evening after the article was published, Lt. Colonel James W. Tuma, age 48 (1914-1990) from Michigan, the lone Marine stationed at Fort Huachuca, near Tucson, Arizona, read the article and immediately decided within minutes to start a 50-mile hike through the Sonoran desert. You would think, Tuma, who held a Ph.D. in physical education, would have more sense, but away he went at 9:05 p.m. on February 5, 1963. He said, “I wanted to do this thing for two reasons. To lend credence to the hypothesis that a Marine’s value to the corps is better expressed in terms of physical fitness and mental alertness, rather than chronological age. And to show Shoup that his independent duty Marines are also in shape.” Tuma used a 5 m.p.h. run/walk approched he called the “Apache Shuffle” for the first half and later settled into pace of about 4 m.p.h. He hiked through the night, not sleeping. He said, “Everybody was nice along the way, wanting to give me a ride.” The next morning he finished his 50 miles with a sprint into the RCA plant at about 10:30 a.m., for a time of 13.5 hours and was credited as the very first one to finish 50-miles that the start of the nation-wide craze. He said, “I had a notion I could do it.”
This is the story of my attempt at it.

It was the summer of 1963 between my sophomore and junior year of High School.

My best friend Larry Wood had gotten on his Vespa motor scooter and used the odometer to map out a route. It would be an out and back route starting at the Largo Place Department and going 25 miles over
TampaBay via the Courtney Campbell Causeway to the WTVT Channel 13 studios in Tampa. Then 25 miles back from there.

Four of us started out. My best friend Larry, another friend named Jon Lavine, and this other kid that was a friend of Lavines, I forget his name, I think it might have been Ronnie, and myself. I can't remember what time of day it was, but it was afternoon. You would think we would have started something like that first thing in the morning, but we were just a bunch of dumb teenaged boys and it was summer vacation so we had probably slept till

Anyway Larry had started the route at the Largo Police station because we thought we that would get some kind of fancy send off and notoriety. Hell maybe even a Police escort for the first mile or two. But when we told the cop at the desk that we were planning to go on a Presidential 50 mile hike he just gave us a "So what"? look and went back to what ever he was doing. So we started out without fanfare.

By the way, this was the Largo Florida Police Station back in the day:


Lavine was kind of a physical fitness fanatic. He would lift weights for about 3 hours every day and then put a 25 lbs. weight plate in his back pack and run around the neighborhood. So at the beginning he was showing off by running way ahead of us and then sitting back and waiting for us to catch up. Things were going pretty good at first. We were making good time and we hit the Courtney Campbell Causeway somewhere between the 5 and 10 mile mark. Larry had made a note of where each 5 mile increment would be when he mapped out the course. The plan was to take a rest at each 5 mile point. The 10 and the 15 mile points were both on the causeway. On the way we encountered several other groups of kids doing the hike. It was really quite a fad for a while.

Things were still going pretty good although when I got up from the 15 mile rest stop I noticed my legs were starting to feel like rubber. Somewhere between 15 and 20 miles it got dark. And the 20 mile point was an overpass that we took our break under. Our rest stops had been getting longer and longer. At this one we might have stopped for 20 or maybe even 30 minutes. And when I got up and started to walk I knew I was in trouble. My legs really hurt. My thighs especially. It felt like someone was sticking a knife into them every step I took. But after a few minutes of warming up it eased a bit and I kept going.

We finally go to the WTVT studios. I don't know what time it was, but it was night. We had gone 25 miles and we all looked like hobos by then. But we went inside fully expecting that once we told them what we were doing we would become instant celebrities and they would want to interview us for a news story and maybe even put us on TV. But the people at the front desk had about the same reaction as the cop did earlier that day. "So what kid?" "Get out of here we have work to do".

So we started the long trek back. Both after the 30 and the 35 mile marks my legs felt even worse. All the muscles in my legs were just screaming. And Ronnie started making noises about wanting to quit. After the 40 mile rest stop the pain in my legs when I got up and tried to walk was unbearable. Or at least that's what I told myself. So Ronnie and I decided to hang it up. The rest stop had some concrete picnic tables and benches and we stretch out on them and went to sleep while Jon and Larry went on.

We slept there until day break and then hobbled out to the side of the road and started hitch hiking. Soon enough some Dude stopped and picked us up. He worked as an orderly at
Morton Plant Hospital and he was on his way to work. So he gave us a ride to the Hospital and Ronnie called his mom to pick us up.

Now Jon and Larry were the kind of wiry type, While Ronnie and I leaned more towards endophorism. So that was the excuse I used for why Ronnie and I didn't finish. But Jon and Larry didn't let us live down the fact that we had quit while they had not. They said it was because they were mentally tougher and able to withstand more pain. And when it comes right down to it, they were right. I lacked the mental toughness.

Original Poster
My first real job was as a bag boy at Publix. Publix is a grocery store chain that originated in Florida. I say real job, because it was one that required me to get a Social Security card. Back in those days that's when you got you Social Security Card. For your first job. I was 16. Nowadays I think they sign you up in the Hospital as soon as you are born.

$1.00 buck an hour. It started in June of 1963 at the grand opening of the Publix on Belcher Road and Gulf to Bay blvd, in Clearwater. They hired a whole bunch of us for the grand opening, gave us about a 1/2 hour orientation and then told us to show up in time to clock in before 9:00 am when the doors opened. We had to wear white shirts, black pants, black shoes and a black tie. You could bring your own tie or you could wear one of theirs which were clip on bow ties. I thought the bow ties looked gay, so I brought my own 99 cent clip on regular tie. You had to be all ready to go before you clocked in. One time a couple of us clocked in and then went into the back and put on our ties and then went to work. That probably took two or three minutes. But as soon as we got back up front the assistant manager was there and chewed us a new one. "We're not paying you to get dressed!".

Anyway, back to day one. When those doors opened at 9 am the customers just streamed in. I had never seen a store so busy in my life. It was a baptism under fire. They had given us a few instructions on bagging during the orientation. Cans on the bottom, lighter stuff on top, wet and cold stuff in a separate bag. They were real anal about bag use back then. We were not allowed to double bag anything except for frozen stuff. They used the brown paper bags then. The biggest size were the "50 lbs bags" Next the 25 lbs, the 10, then 5's. We were supposed to economize to the max on the bags. Which was BS because if you put very many cans into a single bag it was gonna tear. But if we double bagged them you would get your butt chewed a new one by one of the assistant managers. There was one exception. If the customer asked for double bags we could do it then. I used to pray for customers that had gotten wise to this and asked for double bags so I wouldn't have to worry about them tearing. Somewhere around the 1980's Publix got wise and quit trying to nickle and dime on the bags and they started to double all bags. But not while I was working there.

But I digress. Back to day one. It was on a Thursday. The Grand Opening was to run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Back then Publix closed on Sundays. They didn't tell us nuthin. So we just started bagging groceries non stop. I was wondering if that was going to be it for my life. Just non stop grocery bagging till the end of time. Back then the average grocery order came to about $25 bucks which would be four of the big 50 lbs bags filling up one grocery cart. That probably represented about a weeks groceries for an average family.

But then around noon they started telling us in shifts that we could take a lunch break now. That was the first time I found out that we would get a break. I can't remember how long we had. I think a half hour, but it might have been more. But you had to clock out of course and then clock back in when you were done. I remember what I got for lunch though. I went back to the cold case and got a cuban sandwich and then a quart of skim milk form the dairy case. The cuban was 25 cents. The milk was the same. So 50 cents plus two cents tax for lunch. I ate it in the back of the store, then clocked back in. We got another break around dinner time. Then it was non stop bagging till closing time. They locked the doors at 9 pm but there were still customers in the store. So a few of us kept bagging while the rest started clean up. First you swept the aisles. Lot of cigarette butts on the floor because smoking was allowed in the stores back then. Then we wet moped, followed that up with a dry mop, then a wax mop, and finally we ran the buffer. And of course some unlucky dude got to do the bathrooms. Scrubbing out commodes and picking cigarette butts out of the urinals was not the greatest job in the world.

I got home but I could not sleep. I would close my eyes and all I could see was an endless stream of groceries coming at me that I had to bag. And I'm wondering if this is going to be it for the summer? Thirteen hours a day six days a week? I kind of complained to my mom that night about how they hadn't given us a clue as to what our schedules were going to be and what if this is it? Thirteen hours a day six days a week? And all she said back to me was "Think of all the money you will make".

Anyway, Saturday was a repeat of the first two days. By now I've got the process down pretty good. I'm just a grocery bagging robot. One of my favorite assignments was if I could be lucky enough to be the guy that the assistant manager picked to go out into the parking lot and round up all the carts and bring them back in. That was a plum assignment to me. Fresh air and freedom from those groceries, even if just for a little while. A lot of the other guys didn’t like that because they wanted to keep bagging so that they could make tips. Publix had a no tipping policy but during our orientation they had told us that it was OK to take them if the customer offered. Being an introvert I didn’t get as many tips as some of the other guys because I was not one to smile or strike up a banter with the customers. I was much happier out by myself rounding up carts in the parking lot.

I still shop at Publix to this day. It’s a nice clean store and they are big on customer service. But it’s a little more casual. Back in the day we were expected to treat customers like they were Gods that had descended from heaven to walk the earth.

And they don’t seem to have as much of a sweatshop atmosphere for their employees. Today you see employees banter among themselves and they get to wear much more casual and comfortable work outfits. Back in the day we were not allowed to talk to one another while we were on the clock unless it was work related. And if it slowed down for even a minute you could not stand and do nothing or the assistant manager or third man would chew you out. If you had any down time you had to grab a feather duster and start dusting shelves.

When 10 o'clock Saturday night rolled around and all the customers were gone and the store cleaned up the big store manager, his name was Irby Long, Mr. Long to us low lifes came and talked to us. It was the first time he had even acknowledged our existence. Up until the then we had taken our orders from either the assistant manager, or the next dude down the chain who was referred to as "The third man". He handed out our schedules for the next week and to my relief they had me down for about 20 hours. That was the first time I found out that it was going to be 13 hours a day every day.

I worked there part time for the rest of the summer but I quit once school started. I just wasn’t into the protestant work ethic.

Gary O'

Well-known member
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Well-known member
Ohio USA
Good story about Publix.
Reminded me of 1966 when I was a teenage check-out girl at Foodland. Wore a red smock and made $1.25/hr. :woohoo: When I went to the restroom the produce mgr
(handsome married guy) would sometimes be in the area where nobody could see him and he wanted a special hug...but that's another story. :wink: