Editor’s Note: This is the first of a periodic series of stories in which the News Journal asks its readers to share their memories of a particular topic. Below is Part 1 of a 4-day News Journal series as Clinton Countians reflect on their first summer jobs.
With summer in full swing and many youngsters earning money where and when they can before school starts again, the News Journal asked people around Clinton County four questions:
1) What was your first summer job?
2) What did you like about the job?
3) What didn’t you like so much?
4) Could you share a memory of the job?
Here, they tell their summer job stories:
David Beck is currently a Vocal Music Teacher for Wilmington City Schools.
David Beck’s first summer job suited him so well he kept it for five summer seasons. He sang in a barbershop quartet for four summers at Kings Island, and for one season at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Throughout that time span, he said it was pretty much the same group of guys in the quartet.
“I never thought I would be paid to do something I love to do and just have fun. And singing with the same group of young men over the course of years we developed very strong friendships,” said Beck.
The quartet would deliver six 20-minute shows each day, six days a week, in the close harmony barbershop style.
As strolling entertainers, they would sing on the streets or shops of the amusement park, and sometimes go up to individual people.
One time, the tenor had to go on vocal rest for three weeks, but the three remaining vocalists worked up songs as a trio and were allowed to keep entertaining instead of getting docked in pay.
They wore all different sorts of outfits, he remembers. One outfit sported garters on their arms, and completed the distinctive look with a vest, a cane, a top hat and a fancy western-style bow necktie.
At Busch Gardens, they sang in a new section of the park that had an Italian theme. Accordingly, their attire made them look like Italian chefs wearing knickers, big bushy short sleeves and floppy hats.
In terms of a downside to the job, Beck notes that when you work with the same group of people you’re bound to get on one another’s nerves. But, “as we worked through those arguments we became closer friends,” he added.
There were other strolling entertainers in the amusement park, including a band of clowns comprised of students from Xavier. The barbershop quartet would joke around with the clowns who would try to tease the quartet and throw them off course with the songs.
Well, turnabout is fair play, and during the 1984 Summer Olympics Beck’s barbershop quartet prepared signs like those wielded by Olympic judges, rating the clowns on a scale of 1 to 10 like they were gymnasts. But wouldn’t you know it, the joke ended up being on the quartet.
Each member of the quartet also was to hold up a sign bearing one word on it that, when combined, would tell the band of clowns “you guys are great”. Instead, somehow they got it backward and the signs read “great are guys you”.
By Randy Sarvis
Director of Public Relations,
I guess I was a bit of an entrepreneur at 8 years old when I sold sweet cherries door-to-door in my northern Ohio town. I picked them from the two cherry trees we had in our yard and pulled my wagon full of quart containers, which I sold for a quarter apiece.
My first real summer job in which I was expected to be at the workplace at a certain time was picking blueberries, strawberries and black raspberries at local fruit farms when I was 9 or 10 years old.
I worked alongside my friends from school and, while we were essentially diligent workers, occasionally battles would erupt in which we pelted each other with the fruit at hand. Blueberries left the most noticeable stains on white T-shirts and, in spite of that obvious evidence, I don’t recall ever having my pay docked for goofing off.
Also, it was especially nice to get paid — in cash — at the end of the morning when we finished picking after several hours.
The only downside I can recall was being awakened what I considered as too early on summer mornings in order to get to the fruit farm by 7:30 a.m.
I have a lot of good memories but, other than the shared experience with friends and the daily payday, one thing that still sticks in my head is the migrant workers with whom I shared the strawberry fields and witnessed toiling in the area’s more serious agriculture-related jobs.
This part of Ohio along Lake Erie had a lot of fruit and vegetable (truck) farms. Also, the many area tomato fields supplied a nearby Heinz factory in the days before mechanized harvesting of that crop became popular. It attracted a lot of migrant workers of Hispanic heritage who arrived in packed vehicles with Texas or Florida license plates.
These were extremely hard-working persons whose entire families often worked in the fields, from dawn until well into the evening, performing often backbreaking work — no goofing around like my group.
Their children often started school with me in early September, but left when harvest season ended in late October, only to return in April or May in anticipation of a new planting season.
I don’t know whether they were all American citizens or Mexicans eager to work. During the recent debate over the divisive immigration issue, I’ve often thought of these brown-skinned persons from my youth who were decent, good-natured, tireless workers who believed in the dignity of work and providing for their families.
By John W. ‘Tim’ Rudduck
Judge, Common Pleas Court
Former Denver Williams Park czar C.E. “Ebby” Sims hired my good friend, Jeff Taylor, and me when we turned 16 years of age to take care of the baseball diamonds at the park.
We also, managed the first-ever baseball league for 8-year-old boys in the afternoon prior to manicuring the ball diamonds for the evening games. We had three teams in the fledgling league which we managed and played umpire for in the afternoon games.
I still have some folks in the community remind me of their experience that summer as an 8-year-old on their first team.
Having just received our driver’s licenses, my buddy and I matured quite a bit that summer herding the kids, getting the diamonds in shape, and driving around in my new VW stick-shift “Bug.”
Ebby ruled the park with discipline and we knew we had to please him. Sometimes we were not so successful.
But, we got a nice tan in the process as well as some spending money for our evening adventures.