Way below minimum

On October 27, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

This article originally appeared in The Somerville News on October 24, 2007.

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

Remember your first job? My first job was delivering newspapers. I used to pick them up at Abe’s office (Davis Square News Agency) on Highland Avenue where the new cupcake place is. I had the “Francesca” route, which included my own street.

Balancing the papers in the basket on the front of the bike took some getting used to, but I mastered it pretty quickly. I didn’t master getting the paper on people’s porches though. I also took out a couple of windows and dented a few screen door panels, which I had to pay for (remember, Mr. Larsen?).

On Sundays we had to fill these huge, old (and yes splintered), wood rolling wagons with the humongous Sunday papers. Pushing those monstrosities through the snow was especially grueling. If I was lucky I cleared about $16.00 a week for all that work, but I developed some pretty strong forearms. My paperboy career ended when I got caught dumping 20 papers down the tracks. I forgot to deliver the Foskett St. papers and I thought they were extras. Instead of pushing them back to Abe’s, I tried to make them disappear. One of the other paperboys ratted me out.

Then I got a job taking tickets at the Dodge’em Cars on Revere Beach. That was a great gig. A buck an hour and all the re-rides I wanted. Clement Hurley hired a bunch of us kids from the Bay State Ave. corner. Because I was the smallest of the group, I used to have to crawl up onto the ceiling and fix the wire mesh that conducted the electricity that made the cars go.

My parents would have been shocked if they knew that. We caught the tail end of a wonderful, gone-by era, and I almost caught 10,000 or so volts.

One of my fondest memories was when Bob Sullivan hired me as stock boy at Woolworth’s in Davis Square. Soon after I was hired I graduated to the weekend luncheonette guy. I made hot dogs, grilled cheeses and frappes. Plus, I was one of the guys whose job it was to put those little slips of paper with different prices for banana splits into the balloons. You would burst a balloon and pay anywhere from 10 to 99 cents for your banana split. Yes, you can thank me for making them all 10 cents on the days I worked. And the best part of that job was eating my mistakes on the grille.

After that, my friend Dave Porzio got me a job working at Lyndell’s Bakery, another place where I got to eat my mistakes. I was a flour and sugar stocker, a floor scrapper and cleaner and a general bakery helper. My favorite job there was filling the jelly donuts until they almost exploded. That job lasted for about a year and a weight gain of nearly 10 pounds.

The great part about our first jobs was that we lived at home and our livelihood didn’t depend on our paychecks. We didn’t have car payments or insurance to worry about and air for our bike tires was free then. I wish I could go back to the days when my parents took care of everything for me, don’t you?

How many of you out there worked at Gorins or Parke Snow? Did anyone bus tables at The Venice? That was a great job. I think the busboys had to clean and feed the fish in the aquarium.

When I played in The Echoes Band at Johnny D’s, to supplement my income I worked on Johnny’s horse farm up in Sudbury. It was the closest to nature I had ever gotten up to that point in my life.

The scariest job I ever had was when I was a substitute teacher at the old Trade High School. The students were using three-foot lengths of pipe as blowguns. The ammunition they used were those little hard plastic twisty things that you put on spliced together wires. That gig lasted half a day.

The Dodge’em cars, Woolworth’s and delivering newspapers gave me a few bucks and a lot of memories. The best part was that I could quit whenever I wanted and sponge off my parents.


5 Responses to “Way below minimum”

  1. A Moore says:

    My first one was delivering TV Guides back in the early 50’s in the Magoun Square area where I lived. The only other thing would be hauling home the groceries with my radioflyer at the A&P on Broadway to anyone who paid me. First real job would have been Kay’s Deli in Central Square. Owner was very pushy and always a nut about things being cleaned and spotless. Didn’t apreciate it then but now I know you could eat there and know things were okay to consume. Such a long time ago.

  2. j. connelly says:

    I got up @ 4:00 a.m. and helped “Jack” the Hood Milkman make his deliveries around the Tufts Campus. Then around 5:20 a.m. we would meet the big refrigerated Hoods truck on Dearborn Rd by Pearson Rd and get another load for Jack for his home deliveries. He’d drop me off at Burkes News on Curtis St @ Teele Square around 6:00 a.m., so I could pick up the papers for my news route before school.

    Then in the afternoons & Saturdays I worked at the Teele Square Supermarket stocking and delivering orders. On Fridays I got to help Maurice the meatcutter and learn how to cut and prepare stuff.

    I delivered orders in a shopping cart in an area from Powderhouse Square to up by the Dairy Queen in Arlington and from Curtis St @ Medford Line to down by Mass. Ave in Cambridge.
    Great in the spring/summer/fall, horrible to do in the winter.

    Those were good times. Never really had a bad customer, they were all very nice and gave decent tips.

  3. A. Moore says:

    That is wierd, I had to get up at 4am also to get to Central Square by 5am. I was 15 then and was not supposed to do certain things or work so many hours so they had to work things so I could get away with it. I do remember Elliots news but never got to work there. We had Musgraves dairy but ended up with Hood when they stopped delivering. I remember we were getting cottage cheese in these round type dishes with a handle free by getting the Hood cottage cheese. Right about the time I got my coonskin hat and Davy Crocket coat. Seems so long ago but not.

  4. David Fitzgerald says:

    I worked for Abe as well. Those Sunday carts were the worst. He was the cheapest son of a gun. He insisted in paying everyone personally in little yellow envelopes. Remember he would lick his fingers between each bill to make sure no one was over paid. What a flashback…..

    David Fitzgerald
    San Diego, California

  5. frankie d says:

    record american, boston globe and herald traveler, and if you remember there was a morning and an afternoon edition for the traveler. those carts had huge steel wheels,at 5 am on sunday mornings they woke up the whole neighborhood. I also delivered the somerville journal on thursdays, it cost 8 cents, when it went to 10 cents i lost my 2 cent tip those were the days

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