First Job: 1965 — Steampunked

Well, it’s time to steampunk the time machine again. The one over there. The one in the corner. That’s mine.

Yes. The time has arrived to set its calendar function to a May day in North America — its 1,965th iterations of C.E or A.D. (your choice). My machine, its vacuum tubes warm to the challenge. I click the counter to 2000 + 17. Dial needles slowly sway forward as the tubes warm. I click the destination counter to 1900 + 65.

steampunk.knapsack

Was it…

OK it was McDonalds. My parents dropped me off so I could put in an application while they did journey upon an errand. I shall never disclose the nature of their journey-called-errand because both joined the deceased quite some years before I started writing this account you now read, that is, unless you have already departed from this post.

Dear readers, we are now in that very McDonald parking lot. Do you see the car leaving this lot? Do you see me walking in at the back door?

OK. There was this guy at a corner desk. Did he tilt his head sidelong in my direction? Yes he did. How did you know?

mcdonalds.1965

That guy would utter something of portend the following day. You’ll read about that mere minutes from now. Allow me to repeat his very words, so that you may carefully note them:

“The uniforms are in the basement.”

By gosh there were uniforms in that nether room. And don them I did.

Bill, thank you for recalling the insignificant.

Upon donning the red and yellow vest, upon tilting the paper cap to a jaunty angle, I returned by the same set of stairs.

mcdonalds-ad-1961-cincinnati-enquirer-2

And thus did I learn the milkshake-machine trade. A fellow tradesman was already at our shared station. Few customers demanded shakes that day. We simply stood there and took turns. My associate posed an inquiry:

“Why did they assign two tradesmen to this light-duty trade?”

“Why were we not assigned the task of squeezing mustard and ketchup for the grillsmen?”

Excuse our yawns, Bill. Uh, did you parents return from their quest?

Indeed. They returned. I do not think that they expected to find me in full uniform regalia, jaunty tilt and all. I do not.

steampunk.time.machineDay number two: co-shaker and I are on the job,  waiting for the ever infrequent shake order to arrive. In the mean while the manager and his assistant sat upon a picnic table outside. They watched us as we nervously stood, working hardly at faux cleaning.

Some short minutes thereafter the assistant manager of picnic-table note informed me that my application existed not, one person where only half-ass staffing sufficed.

application-mcDonalds

Fortunately I had a prepared response “uh, yeah. I haven’t done that part yet.” My second day was also my last — pink papers were drawn.

Next job to visit via steampunk: OS&D Clerk at Dance Freight Lines — connecting the north with the industrial south.

 

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Thanks for reading.

 

Meeting Sheffield in Manhattan

TGIF: to my good English friends

This is my cheery thanks for 237 WordPress views from the U.K. Yet, all readers are welcomed to join in the jape — even your homework-eating doggie or moggie is invited.

Right.

A few months ago I wrote a  post to celebrate non sequiturs.  So it certainly follows…

 

manhattan-ks
Kansas State University

The anecdote begins in a basement apartment, one with a bright southern exposure in the Manhattan Kansas of 1970. The landlady is an elderly widow under the name of McLeod. She pronounced this appellation “Mick Lee Odd” to the bloody-helliest consternation of my college roommate from Sheffield.

“She doesn’t even know how to pronounce her bloody name. Jesus F-ing Christ!”

Keith’s very words, excepting the letters k, u and c.

He bore a striking resemblance to Robert Carlyle’s character Gaz in The Full Monty. The marvelous synchronicity of life and art finds me in Sheffield, whether led by Robert Carlyle or by Keith.

robert-carlyle
Robert Carlyle could play Keith

 

We fed a stray moggie who frequented the window wells. Mrs. McLeod disapproved of visiting privileges for this fellow mammal of the feline kind. Of course she ran up the basement steps into the McLeod kitchen to begin her first and last apartment visit. Without hesitation.

A large collection of small glass animalia enjoyed the same southern exposure. Rays of sun pointed to all dust that might alight, only to fall victim daily to Mrs. M’s grey cloth.

She asked us to deduct a dollar from the $60 rent, were we to shovel the snow. No deduction did we make, so she baked us a cake and each snow day left it on the kitchen table next to the tub and in front of the shower’s wooden pallet.

Keith P. introduced me to real football. His mother sent him the pink sports pages by post each week. ’twas his sacred tradition to purchase a bag of chips and to consume all contents of the bag while reading the full contents of the weekly surprise. I learned of George Best in his better days. Mancunians, Liverpudlians. One week I selected Swansea as my team favorite UK team.

“Bloody hell, they’ll be relegated.”

Comes another random memory. A trip by ’63 Käfer from Manhattan (KS) to hometown Cincinnati. Christmas break. My father spent quite a few months in North Africa in 1943, but suffered the youthful certainty we thought real.

kaefer

Britain would have won the war without American help.”

Keith’s words paraphrased.

I sold encyclopedias for a couple months in Cincinnati the following summer. You could lie your ass off in those days. It was the most dishonest job I have ever held. Unfortunately I was good at it. One shred of dignity for my door-to-door robbery —it paid rent to the wonderful Mrs. McLeod. Keith spent that same summer in inner-city Detroit with a radical geographer: William Bunge, Theoretical Geography 1970.  A very different era.

 

draft-lottery
Selective Service Draft Lottery

Every evening we joined with Mrs. M. for the day’s first encounter with the larger world without. Our sole 30 minutes of TV viewing time.

Now the world without intercedes to display the more dismal side that is in the human shadow, I also remember the following:

Always Walter Cronkite and always the loud desperation on grainy black and white film, the black and white blood of teen-age death captured by a war correspondent’s film crew. Choppers measuring cacophony of war uncensored.

Keith was not draftable and September 17 gifted me a random 255 by dint of the document below. September 14 was the first number drawn in the draft lottery of 1969.

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Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad

Me and the Grandmas
Martha Stephens’ New Book

Martha Stephens has presented us a gift: Me and the Grandmas of Baghdad. March 2015 from Peace Works Publishing. I am conflicted when approaching Amazon.com due to their treatment of workers, but I patronize Amazon for their community rewards, and I like their look inside feature. After looking inside you can learn about Martha’s other trail-blazing books and read reviews. The Grandmas includes “a garden of hope and repose.” Here you meet fellow denizens of an old golf path, sapiens and otherwise as the memoir taps wars of the writer’s childhood past and shows her compassion for victims of perpetual war. She gives the victims a voice. We are all complicit in this business, and yes it is a business. Then Martha returns to a regard for magnificent teachers who sustain us.

Kindle tells me that I have now read 40%: 60% remain to read, so I jump back in…”Shelley was returning the next day to Cold Spring, Kentucky, so we caught just that one glimpse…” Part II when Kindle tells me 0% remaining.

(Edited June 27 17:00)