Local lifestyle columnists

Tales of paycheck glory: First jobs

By From page A2 | July 18, 2014


That’s what my best friend John Nolan and I repeatedly yelled out the window of his parents’ canary-yellow AMC Matador at pedestrians in 1981 after being hired at Carl’s Jr.

If you are one of those people we yelled at, my apologies. We weren’t trying to startle you; we were just overjoyed at joining the work force.

I had helped my oldest brother Orvis with his paper route in Virginia, my brother Kelvin and I delivered The Advertiser, and I cleaned a doctor’s office, but working for Carl Karcher Enterprises was my first real job.

Even today, when I think about assembling California Roast Beef sandwiches, deep-frying Crispiritos and doing birthday parties so I could crank “Back in Black” for musical chairs in the dining area, I get a lil’ misty.

Other local residents shared about their first jobs:

Jean Taylor Hamilton: At 10, I delivered the Times-Herald in our Waterman Park neighborhood for money to help out the family, and the Daily Republic for 3 cents on every dime paper sold in downtown Fairfield, plus you got free movie passes.

Tonish Jones: My first go at it was when I was about 8 or 9 living on Travis. My friend and I made a mint going door to door in the officer housing area, mowing lawns and washing cars.

Tena Bateman: Babysitting back in the day for 50 cents an hour. It didn’t matter how many kids, 50 cents was the going rate.

Susan Macy Luckenbach: When I was 9, I picked black walnuts in Suisun Valley all weekend. I made $9, my hands were black and I spent the whole amount on doll clothes I purchased from Leonard’s Tot Shop.

Dan Monez: My first job was as a clerk for Darlington’s Shoes on Texas Street. Back in 1967-68, Braniff Airlines ran flights out of Travis Air Force Base for GIs returning from Vietnam. Lots of Braniff stewardesses lived in Fairfield then and Darlington’s was the exclusive provider of Braniff’s unique pink pumps for their uniforms. I looked older than 18 and when I was helping all these gorgeous “stews” with their shoes, they thought I was my 20s. I got invited to crazy parties at places like the Cocoa Palms Apartments. I was living “la vida loca” until one day one of them found out I was a senior at Fairfield High School and it all came to an abrupt end.

Robin McCoy: One of my first jobs was at the Daily Republic, back when articles had to be typed in by hand. After typing we would then proofread them to each other, including punctuation. So when I’d be called on to read something aloud at school, it would sound like this: “Start quote Romeo comma Romeo period. Wherefore art thou comma Romeo question mark end quote.” The class would think I was nuts! But I did learn how to type 105 words per minute.

Debbie Dunbarr: Cutting fruit at German’s in Suisun Valley. We were paid anywhere from 15 cents to 35 cents per box, depending how big the fruit was. That’s how we paid for school clothes.

Steve Murray: First job was K-Mart Christmas help. I went to work at 6 a.m. and stocked the toy department (all those overhead racks . . . ugh) until 10 a.m. My thanks for doing a good job: Christmas Eve at the employee party, I was handed my pay envelope and told I was laid off. Welcome to the working world.

Tracy Vest: My first real job was at McDonald’s – back in the horrible, rust-colored double knit polyester uniform days. I would always bring a change of clothes to go cruising afterwards, but inevitably someone would say “Does anyone else smell onions?”

Elizabeth Nessmith: My first job was as the drive-thru cashier at the Burger King in Cordelia circa 1983. I had to work the afternoon/evening shift on Thanksgiving, which meant missing dinner with the family, right? Nope. My crazy family (mom, dad, baby sister, and my gram) showed up with fine china and silver candlesticks (complete with candles), ordered their Whoppers and French fries and proceeded to sit in the corner booth to eat. Thanksgiving for the Sheldon family at Burger King!

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade

Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Maureen BairdJuly 18, 2014 - 9:12 am

    Very fun to read. thanks

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  • Mr.RJuly 18, 2014 - 1:17 pm

    Great article Tony. Brings back memories of my first job sweeping the parking lot of a locale motel for 2 buck.lol!

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  • KenRJuly 18, 2014 - 10:48 pm

    My first job was delivering the Times-Herald in 66-67, morning and evening paper, when I was in the 7th grade. Hard work. Bought me a Schwinn bicycle.

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  • Kendall WrightSeptember 01, 2014 - 7:43 am

    I was a bagger/carry-out at a Safeway in Denver. Yes, carry-out was part of each and every bagging, and we could be fired for accepting tips. It was a concept not so well-known today, called "customer service." In 1960, I made 64 cents an hour.

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