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Learning Summer Job Dignity for $1 an Hour

Tom Purcell on

They called me "The Trail Blazer," Good Buddy. 

That was my citizens band radio handle in the summer of 1977, when the hit movie “Smokey and the Bandit” created a CB craze and millions of kids like me dreamed of getting one. 

Much to my surprise, my father permitted me to do so — even though I needed to attach a large CB radio antenna to the roof of our house.  

He saw the CB radio as an opportunity for me to learn how to manage my own finances — how to open a bank account, plan ahead, get a job and save money to achieve my goal. 

Too young to work a retail job, I applied for and got the only work available to me: golf-ball picker at a local driving range.  

Until summer arrived, when I could start later in the day and work more hours, I woke at 5:30 a.m. every morning before school and rode my bike two miles to the range.

 

I was handed an aluminum tool that was as long as a golf club and the shape of a tennis-ball cannister. It had three springs on the bottom. By pressing the tool down onto a golf ball, the springs would retract and the ball would be captured.

I was assigned a section of dewy grass the size of a football field and had one hour to complete the job — for which I was paid one dollar (about $4 in today’s money).  

Needless to say, I was going to have to work many unpleasant mornings to save enough for a CB radio, which, if I remember correctly, was about $130 at the time.

This memory came back to me when I read in a Yahoo News report that, after last summer’s horrible scarcity of summer jobs, there are 1.2 million part-time jobs available — more than 2019’s pre-pandemic numbers.  

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Copyright 2021 Tom Purcell, All Rights Reserved. Credit: Cagle.com
 

 

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