Learning Summer Job Dignity for $1 an Hour
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.