First summer jobs: Picking, papers and pools

By Tom Barr -

Editor’s Note: We recently asked some Clinton Countians to tell us about their first summer job. This is the Part 3 of a 4-part News Journal series.

By Randy Riley

Former Mayor/County Commissioner

In the early 1960s, I would mow lawns and shovel snow for neighbors in Germantown. Around 1962, I started delivering newspapers for the old Dayton Journal Herald. That brought in a regular weekly income and also gave me several more lawn and snow customers.

The first time I was paid by the hour was a years later. I added farm-hand to my resume. During the summer, I worked for Mr. Tacke. He was a large man with a large produce farm on the outskirts, west of town.

He raised sweet corn, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers and acres of green beans. I learned how to hoe, weed, water and pick. Dick paid me 60 cents an hour – a penny a minute. I think he did that because it was easier to figure out what he owed me each week.

When it came time to pick beans, I got paid by the pound. I picked beans like a machine. Some pickers used a stool. I’d bend at the waist and keep on moving. By the end of the season, I could lock my knees, bend forward and touch my elbows to the ground. By the end of the summer, I was in the best shape of my life.

When the sun would hide behind a cloud while I was watering the tomatoes, it was heaven to get as wet as the produce. Sometimes I would rinse off a bright red tomato and bite right into it. The juice would run down my chest and I’d immediately rinse it off with the hose.

As long as I didn’t eat my own weight in tomatoes, Mr. Tacke was OK with my sampling the produce. Sometimes, I would also eat an ear of fresh, young sweet corn with my tomato. That was a great lunch.

When it came time to pick or hoe the sweet corn, I would wade into the middle of Mr. Tacke’s million-acre cornfield. At times it seemed like more than a million acres. There I would hoe the weeds and sweat the afternoon away. If I took off my shirt, the corn leaves would slice me like a knife. I used to fantasize about being Daniel Boone running the gauntlet.

There is probably no place, short of hell in the summer, that is hotter than the middle of a sweet corn field. It can only be made more miserable by having your own sweat run into the dozens of corn-leaf cuts on your arms.

Darcy Reynolds


Main Street Wilmington

I was a highway worker. I painted edge lines, center lines, and flagged cars.

I liked riding around in the truck reading for hours on end when we were stopped. They use to hide my books from me and say, “Don’t be a college brat, trying to read.” I said, “Guys, we are doing nothing. We’re just sitting here.” They were funny guys.

I didn’t like the difficulty of bathroom breaks since I was the only female.

I learned on this job the philosophy of day workers. Which I remember to this day. My hair grows on state time, I get it cut on state time. They had a whole collection of these.

Cora Kramer

Social Studies Teacher

Wilmington High School

My first job was working at the visitor center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. My main responsibility was to write visitor passes so people could get on base.

I really liked the flexibility in my schedule. They were willing to work around my college class schedule, and I was even able to come in for a few hours before and after some of my classes.

It’s hard to pick something about the job that I didn’t like because it was a great first job. I would have to say that the worst part was the amount of responsibility I had for my very first job! It was a little bit intimidating. If I messed up, I could have let someone on base that should not have been allowed on!

While I was working, the crew from the show “Ghost Hunters” came to the base to investigate some of the buildings that were said to be haunted. We got to meet everyone from the show. It was a lot of fun!

Kristi Fickert

VP of Marketing,


I was always eager to work and earn my own money and while I held many small jobs at a fairly young age, one of my first real summer jobs was as a certified American Red Cross Lifeguard when I was 16 years old. I worked at the local YMCA here in Wilmington, both as a lifeguard and swim instructor and also at The Beach Waterpark in Mason.

I grew up in and around water and I’ve been boating and enjoying water sports since I was about 6 months old. I really enjoyed sharing that love of the water with others and helping others learn to enjoy it safely, too. Seeing someone, especially a grown adult, learn to swim for the first time and being a part of that success for them was really rewarding. To have played a role in removing their fear of water and giving them such an important life skill was such a great feeling.

Lifeguarding can be a high-stress job, especially for a young teenager. You have to be “always on” and there’s no room to make mistakes or errors. You’ve only got 20-60 seconds to identify a drowning in process, so you’ve got to be focused for every single second you’re on duty. It was definitely not the “sit back and get a nice tan” job that many envision.

I will never forget how challenging the swim test was to become a certified lifeguard. I was in great shape to start with, but it was grueling.

And, the Cincinnati Bengals were still hosting their training camps at Wilmington College at the time I was guarding. They would 0ll visit the pool after their daily workouts and it was fun to get to mingle with them.

By Tom Barr