Editor’s Note: This is the Part 4 of a 4-part News Journal series in which area residents reflect on their first summer jobs.
By Carolyn Collier Taubenheim
Native of New Vienna,
Now residing in Wisconsin
I had just graduated from East Clinton High School and was headed to the University of Cincinnati in the fall. I needed my first summer job badly, to provide money for everything a college kid has to have. I scoured the want ads in the Wilmington News Journal and discovered the General Telephone Company of Ohio, located where the Mediterranean Restaurant now resides, was hiring operators. I applied and got the job!
At that time, no one could call long distance by themselves. You had to reach the operator on your rotary dial phone and wait while she placed the call. Learning how to take those calls and run a switchboard correctly was a little mind-boggling, but determination paid off, and I was given my very own headset and a place in the operators’ room.
I enjoyed the job, especially getting to take calls from all sorts of personalities, but what I really didn’t like was working “rate and route”. When an operator had a customer at a pay phone wanting to call a long distance number, she had to first reach another operator seated at a huge book containing the “rate”, how much the first 3 minutes and any additional minutes would cost, and the “route”, the numbers necessary to be routed to that destination. Knowing 2 people were waiting for a prompt answer while I searched for the correct information made me nervous, and being nervous could lead to mistakes.
I was at work when Hurricane Camille made landfall that hot August night in 1969 and ravaged the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Incoming calls from people desperate to make contact with family and friends blinked and flashed so quickly on our switchboards, each one looked like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. We couldn’t handle all the calls because the main trunk lines out of Cincinnati and Columbus were completely filled, as in no more space available for outgoing communications. All we could do was fill out a call card and tell folks they’d hear from us as soon as possible. It was a long time before we got caught up.
General Telephone offered me the chance to say, “Number, please,” every summer until I graduated from college. Knowing a job awaited without an extended search was such a blessing. Life was good!
By Ruth Brindle
Main Street Wilmington Co-Director,
Server at General Denver
My first job was selling books with my mom at church conventions in high school. She was the manager of a religious bookstore and she would get asked to go do book tables at conferences. She would take me instead of another staff member so she wouldn’t have to pay for another hotel room.
I loved going on road trips with my mom. It was super cool. We went to Maine and made a vacation out of it one time and ate lobster.
The conventions were so boring. You would just sit there for hours while people were in secessions and you wouldn’t see a single person. Then there would be this flood of people who needed to buy these things. And they would get grumpy when things cost more than what they thought it should.
I was a teenager in high school, so I was tired all the time and I remember one time I just looked at my mom and was like, “I’m just going to take a nap.” And I crawled under one of the books display tables, which were skirted, and just took a nap.
By Annen Vance
Wilmington Mayor’s Office
I worked at KFC in Hillsboro and as a Weekend Teen Sorter at ABX.
Both jobs were really good learning experiences, I was lucky to work with and be able to carpool with friends. I worked at both jobs for over a year each before going to college. I think it helped a lot with my work ethic and managing my time.
Since I worked every weekend, and sometimes double shifts, one at each job, I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with my friends and family. Also working two jobs, especially ones that kept you on your feet for long hours, can be really tiring.
I don’t have a specific story, but I have always gotten along really well with my co-workers, and I’ve made some wonderful lasting friendships because of those summer jobs.
By Kristen Jeffers
Blanchester Police Department
I worked another job year-round, but my first “summer” job was working for Ohio State Parks. I worked on the beach in a food trailer and filled in at the check-in occasionally.
I liked being able to be outside and interact with the park visitors.
I didn’t like the rainy or gloomy days; we weren’t busy on those days, so the days went by slowly.
They had a huge summer festival … It was non-stop at the food trailer, but it eventually slowed down (or we sold out of everything) and we got to enjoy the fireworks show.
By Brad Reynolds
Ohio Living Cape May
Other than having a paper route (for the WNJ; Mrs. Mills was my “boss”) and mowing grass, my first “real” summer job was with Swindler and Sons Florist at $1/hr.
You were outside most of the time and you also got pretty dirty every day.
Disbudding carnations in the hot greenhouses and painting the glass roofs of the greenhouses. The painting required walking on thin strips of wood and gutters — coordination was not one of my skill sets at that time.
Once I started driving and delivering flowers in one of the trucks, I found out how good I was at quick floral design. This came in handy if you took a corner too fast and dumped an arrangement on the way to delivering it to a customer. I wish I could say this only happened once, but I can’t!
I toiled on the grounds crew at Western Row Golf Course in Mason beginning when I was 16, primarily mowing greens, fairways and grounds, watering greens and manicuring bunkers. I was living well on that $2.10 an hour!
It was great working mostly on my own in the peaceful quiet — except for the occasional cursing golfer, followed by a club flying across the fairway — and under the sun with no shirt and no sunblock. I got a great suntan. Also getting off work at 3:30 p.m. was especially nice for a teenager, as well as playing as much free golf as I wanted after work.
Some downsides were: Starting work at the crack of dawn; trying to get that first green mowed before the first foursome teed off on Sunday; sweltering in the humid days; and, having to get checked for skin cancer every year lately (all’s well so far!).
In three summers I got hit by a golf ball once — I was reaching up doing something to a tree when I felt something hit my wallet. I looked down and someone’s drive was bouncing away from me — and into the fairway (a great break for the golfer).
I worked with some good people and certainly learned the value of hard work.